It's a struggle for many property owners to address the repair and maintenance needs of their buildings. There is often too much to know and too little time to get to know it. What they do know is that a failing roof compromises the well-being of their assets, putting them in jeopardy of irreparable damage - from equipment and computers to furnishings and even employees. It’s conceptually similar to a person with a medical need. Does that individual really have the time and ability to learn the medical industry to such an extent so as to have the ability to self-diagnose and treat themselves? Hardly! Well, it's really no different when it comes to roof repair and maintenance. A property owner has to put his faith and trust in someone else, less he becomes paralyzed by indecision or is forced into making a decision that s/he is just not qualified to make, leading to unwanted consequences.
Enter the roofing contractor, right? Woah!!! Not so fast. With some roofing contractors more focused on profits than truly being a source of legitimate help, how is a property owner to choose which roofing contractor he can trust? Let's face it, some roofing contractors are down-right dishonest and completely lacking in integrity. A mistake in one's choice of roofing contractor can have severe and costly consequences. So, what should you look for when choosing your roofing contractor?
Comparing Apples to Oranges
Before a property owner is ever going to make the right decision regarding which roofing contractor to use, it is imperative that he understands this very simple truth: It is always the owner's responsibility to make the right decision. If the right choice is made the owner basks in the glory of a job well done. But if the wrong choice is made, even before the contractor is condemned, the owner must recognize he shares the full extent and responsibility of that decision. Granted, the contractor may be at fault for failing to live up to their end of the bargain. But since it is the owner that bears the consequences, it must be the owner who takes the responsibility for the contractor they choose to use. This is even the case when an owner hires a property or facility manager to address this important task, because ultimately the buck still stops with the owner. It may not be fair, but it is reality. So how does a property owner arm himself with the knowledge needed to make sure they are choosing the right roofing contractor?
Do your homework. There are so many roofing contractors from which to choose that it may seem like a daunting task to verify the quality and credibility of any particular one. So when you are reviewing a contractor, what specifically should you look for? When you're comparing one roofing contractor to another, be sure to be consistent. Comparing apples to oranges often ends up giving you lemons. Instead, compare apples to apples and you'll be in a better position to make a fair and balanced decision.
Do They Have a Website?
In this day and age, a website can help demonstrate that a roofing contractor is here to stay. You gain some insights into whether they care about their reputation or if they are simply online for the sake of being online. Websites can be very difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to create. You, as the property owner, need to be able to read between the lines as you review a roofing contractor's website. For example, maybe a contractor pays thousands and thousands of dollars to have a website designed and developed that just blows your socks off when you first view it; it's pretty, has integrated moving images, and "looks" very professional. But when you 'read between the lines' you realize that the site doesn't tell you much about the contractor or what they do. It's mostly fluff and tells you nothing about how they can help you.
On the other hand, you may find a roofing contractor's website that isn't as pretty and doesn't have the bells and whistles of their competition. But again, as you 'read between the lines' you realize that they take great care to inform you about who they are and how they can help you address your roofing needs. Maybe they go a step further and provide you with an education into the roofing industry, allowing you to have more insight into what questions to ask. In such a case, the content itself can tell you much more about the quality of that roofing contractor than the website's design. Of course, a sloppy design, outdated information, and the like also tell you something about the contractor. Having a well-designed website with usable content can be a big help in weeding out the good from the bad. So it needs to be taken into consideration. But it's just a piece of the overall puzzle, and the puzzle has lots of pieces.
Are They Members of the Better Business Bureau?
In full disclosure, we are not currently a part of the Better Business Bureau (BBB). We used to be. In fact, at the time we opted against renewing our BBB accreditation – and instead decided to spend our marketing dollars differently – we had an A+ rating. Funny thing is, despite such a perfect rating, we never once could trace that A+ rating to a sale. Thousands and thousands of marketing dollars spent without any direct result to our business’ profit margin. Not an effective business strategy. The sad reality was that we had to charge our customers more than we otherwise would have in order to cover the costs of all the marketing we were doing, including our BBB accreditation. So, we decided to do things differently, especially during COVID. We decided to cut costs and focus on person-to-person interactions instead of letting the Internet and its massive competition dictate our success. After all, we’re roofers not marketers.
But many contractors do have a BBB accreditation. If they do, don’t ignore it. Just keep in mind that while a high BBB rating is a good sign, it may not tell the whole story. Some property owners may not know how to inform the BBB of problems that they've had with a particular contractor. Or maybe they simply seek other solutions. For example, how many times have you had trouble with your Internet or cable provider? How many times did you go through all the trouble of leaving a bad review or using the services of the BBB to resolve a problem? Most property owners are simply too busy to mess with that stuff. They just want a problem fixed and move on. They may never use the contractor again, but they seldom use Internet review sites to warn the public with the intent to damage the contractor. (Sadly, disgruntled former employees are far more likely to do that.)
Therefore, it is possible to be a poor contractor and still have a high BBB rating. A contractor may have all kinds of problems with their customers but end up negotiating settlements to appease the owners so that no negative feedback is presented to the Bureau or other review sites.
So while a low BBB rating should alert you to potential issues, a high rating does not necessarily mean you’re in the clear. A shrewd owner will take the BBB accreditation and rating into consideration, and from that determine whether it adds to an overall positive perception of the roofing contractor or not.
But if a roofing contractor does have a BBB accreditation, don't ignore it. It can give you some legitimate and usable information that forms another piece of the overall puzzle. On the other hand, if a contractor does not have a BBB accreditation, understand that there are real reasons that is the case, and those reasons may have nothing to do with the quality of the contractor. Fortunately, there are other pieces of the puzzle to consider.
Part II coming soon!