In this video, I’m going to share with you my seven best tips on how to start and grow your roofing business fast. These are the same tips I use for all my businesses. The flooring business I sold in 2012 in Atlanta, my ice dam removal business, my seasonal business in Minnesota, and also, of course, my roofing business. It’s also the same fundamental tips that I know works for all my clients, whoever hired me for consulting deals or come to my classes. The most popular question I have from my audience, roofer’s startup companies, is, “Dmitry, how did you grow so fast in the first year?” And for me, it’s common sense, but I understand for a lot of people it’s not. So that’s why I’ve never done a video like this before. But because I’ve been getting so many questions, I decided to share because for me it’s obvious and the first year in business is the easiest in business. I usually struggle a little bit later on, but the first year is hype, it’s excitement. I just know how to put it all together. So here are my seven tips.
1) Start with a solid name
Guys, you cannot start with a bad name. Stay away from your initials. I understand that my initials, your initials, or any abbreviation might mean something to you, but they probably don’t mean anything for your potential customers. So I would never name my company like GL Construction or something. So the name of my companies is Storm Group Roofing, Ice Dam Liquidators, Gutter King of Twin Cities, Omni Floors. The reason I always pay huge attention to the name because it will help you save marketing dollars. Like Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, one of the richest men in China said that name saved him millions of marketing dollars and I agree with that. If you have a really good name, you will want to promote it. You will want to have it on your shirts, you will want to spend marketing dollars.
People will remember it. People will be referring to you without hesitation like, “Yeah, yeah, that guy with that company.” So, for example, when I named my company Storm Group, it just sounded bigger. I loved it. I wanted to promote it and I remember the first year in business, people had been asking me if it’s a franchise. I remember the second year in business when I asked my customers why did they choose me? Because we already have couple hundred reviews online, but I still was getting feedback, people were answering something like this, like, “Dmitry, we didn’t want to choose you because we didn’t want to deal with a big company. We wanted to go with a, you know, somebody smaller but the reviews were great, you were great, so we gave you our business,” and I’m like “Big company? There’s like three of us.” But when you have a solid name, like Storm Group for example, or Ice Dam Liquidators, right?
So Ice Dam Liquidators is another business of mine. Last winter we’ve done over 300 jobs. I mean, we have a lot of competition. Every roofing company in business probably offers Ice Dam services by now, but when you have a solid name like that, people searched for ice dams, they see Ice Dam Liquidators, boom, those guys legit, that’s what they do, it’s their service. We have tons of organic traffic. It’s a very profitable business and we’re killing it, and to be honest with you, all credit or a majority of the credit just goes to that branding name that I’ve picked. So you have to start with a name. It’s not going to make you millions at first, but it’ll help you for sure start and grow super fast, even in the first year and not to mention that once you grow, it’s pain in the ass to go back and change the name. So you want to do your research, spend a couple of weeks on it, slipping it, and make sure you have a name that you want to promote.
2) Get your business out there
This one is probably the weakest tip I can give you, but I believe it’s also one of the strongest. Don’t be shy and go all in. I see these mistakes all the time. When small business owners come to me, they just started maybe a year or two ago and they’re just shy. They are afraid to change their title on their Facebook what they do now. They are afraid to tell their friends they’ve started a business. They are afraid. They kind of always have a Plan B. If you want to have success right there in the beginning, you have to jump all in. Your closest friends, your closest family are not going to give you a lot of business, but when you make a statement that that’s what you do, people will start noticing.
We want to do business with somebody who is very hungry, very motivated. I don’t want anybody to work on my car who is doing it at night at his garage and not very serious about it and have a day job after that. If you go all in, people will want to support you. They want to give you more business and when you start making those statements, people probably going to start mocking you. I remember when I went all in, I wrapped my vehicles first, I, you know, came up with the Storm Group name and I remember my relatives laughing at me. I remember my peers… I started doing these YouTube videos, like my kids would laugh at me because I don’t speak proper English. And people are like, “What? Are you a roofer now?” People will start making fun of you maybe, but when you’re going to start making statements, sooner or later you’re going to start getting the right audience.
For example, we have a really big Russian community in Minneapolis. I have a lot of realtors who work with me and there is a lot of Russian guys who can install siding and the roofing. But somehow I’ve been connecting with them and they started giving me a lot of business. Why? Because I went all in. I make public statements and everybody knows me as a roofer now. If I would be shy, I would not grow fast in the first year. You have to tell people your story, why you do what you do, and it’s very, very important. If you have a Plan B, Plan A is not going to happen.
3) Don’t be afraid of small ticket items
Small-ticket items are amazing. Everybody thinks about competition and I agree that roofing very competitive, but what’s happening is in the roofing business and almost in any business, big players, they start being picky very soon. So once people start doing really big jobs, commercial jobs, they don’t care about small-tickets, especially repairs. But guess what? That’s where you come in and you save the day because for you right now, you just started and the more small jobs you’ll have, the more clientele you’re going to have, the faster you’re going to build your clientele. The more referrals you’re going to get, the more you reviews you’re going to have and also it’s less competitive. Nobody wants a goal where you don’t have a lot of competition. You don’t have to be the cheapest guy, you still can charge a good rate.
I would not recommend doing anything for a hundred or 200 bucks. Charge $300, or $400. It’s going to be enough for you to support your family and your business because if you are going to be doing the repairs too cheap, you’re just going to have a lot of risk and a lot of liabilities. But if you charge 400 or 500 bucks and you do something every day and nobody else wants it, people are going to love you. They’re going to promote you. It’s going to start snowballing and big jobs are going to start coming in. Taking a lot of small jobs, in the beginning, is going to set you apart if you’re going to follow my tip number four.
4) Return phone calls and emails quickly
You have to produce everything super fast. And when I mean to produce, I don’t just mean production like installation. I’m talking about returning your phone calls and emails. Guys, you will be amazed at how bad contractors are at returning phone calls. Recently I was trying to reach a concrete guy. I found four companies on the internet, all with great reviews. Only one out of four returned my phone call the same day because the other three didn’t want my business.
So the same thing was happening to me in almost all my businesses. When you return a phone call right away or answer right away, schedule the appointment right away. I remember five or six years ago when I was going in and meeting the homeowner to the day I installed the full job. Ten thousand dollar jobs were less than two weeks long and I remember at the final day of work people would say, “Dmitry, can I share some of that with you? I’m still just returning phone calls from the time I was looking for you.” People appreciate the feedback. Contractors lose tons of business because they’re not responsive. So that’s why your first employee has to be a receptionist. That receptionist will make enough money for you, and if you don’t have receptionist, if you don’t return the phone calls or emails within five minutes, you don’t have a marketing problem, you don’t have a business problem, you have receptionist problem. Fix it, produce everything fast, be fast, be responsive. You’re going to be way ahead of the competition. People are going to start talking about you online and you’ll start growing super fast.
5) Sign up with CRM right away
CRM is a customer relationship management platform. You have to have it. Why? To avoid situations like this. “Hey, what’s up man?” “Hey Dan, did you order that special order we talk about two weeks ago?” “What order? I thought, yeah we talked about it, but I didn’t realize you wanted me to order it.” “What do you mean I didn’t tell you. We were sitting right there at the bar and I told you to order it. You said you were going to do it tomorrow. What do you mean you don’t remember?” “No, no, no, no, no, no. Listen, listen, listen. If you told me to order it, I would order it. We’d been drinking and I mean we discussed it, I remember talking about it, but I didn’t understand you wanted me to order it, okay?” “So what am I supposed to tell my customer now?” “I’ll order it right now. Okay, bye.”
There are a lot of CRMs for roofing companies on the market and this is where I want to talk about my friends at JobNimbus, they’re also the sponsor of this video. I recently called them and said, “Hey guys, I’m doing this series of videos for roofing contractors to help them to start and scale their business,” and JobNimbus was like, “Absolutely, we would love to partner up with you guys.” Long story short, they’re sponsoring this video, and are probably going to do a few more in the future. For years I’ve been using JobNimbus. I burned myself with the other two CRMs. JobNimbus is one of the cheapest CRMs on the market. I don’t know anything the platform cannot do. It’s only $25 per user.
You can go sign up, check it out, and try it for yourself. I want to show you what we do and how it helped my business and I highly recommend it. Don’t wait for your company to grow too big for too long. You have to start tracking your numbers, understanding customer service, and also understanding how your team operates and JobNimbus does all of that. It’s your internal process. Take a look. Let me just show you this one for example. So this is one of my customers, George Haikel. We’re inside of my JobNimbus right now and you can see when people call us. Right away we take the lead source, tell them everything, put all the information in, and assign it to the sales rep. Then you can kind of understand how we’re using it.
So, for example, this appointment was created on 6/15 at 6:30 with one of my sales reps. We changed it to me right away because he could not do it, and we changed the date. Too bad because it was like $80,000 job that my sales rep, unfortunately, could not run. So you can see they called George to confirm Dmitry will be meeting at 6:20. So I called him on 7/11/2017 at 8:26 AM. I wrote an estimate for the insurance claim I need to visit the site before scope. This comes from my supplementer, my production manager at the time. I needed some pictures and he started sending work orders. Called about Dish Network, which was not in use and can be disconnected. Called George, asked if we picked out a siding collar. Pretty much a lot of communication between the sales manager, production manager, office, and supplementer, but what’s unique about it is it’s all in one place.
So I can be in Florida enjoying my vacation and if I have any questions about the job, who talked to who, all I have to do, I just have to open my CRM, open the client, ask a question, or text somebody. I have a rule in my company. Even if I’m sitting with you like face-to-face and I’m asking you to do something, maybe to call the customer or the materialist or do anything, my rule is even if you agree and even if I see you doing it or I know you’re going to do it in the next five minutes, I’m still going to go into my CRM and create a task for you and say, “Hey Dan, please go and do this.” Right? So later, Dan is not going to tell me that he forgot or didn’t see I sent him a text message or email. All of that gets birthed. This is your track record. Customers love it and it helps you make everybody accountable.
Call the insurance company to resolve stuff. They’re going to have an adjuster call me about work orders going on. So pretty much, you can tell what’s been happening with this job. You can tell who’s been doing the work. Look at this $84,000 in new total, you know, supplement, balance due, final check. So my accountant can look at where the numbers are and what to expect. The homeowner has been addressed, collected and paid in full. Talk to George. He wants the deck replaced now, right? So this customer is still in the system. He kept calling us for some future jobs and we still have the same file and if he calls me today and say, “Dmitry, I want a siding quote or I want a deck quote or, you know, build me a garage,” I’m going to create a note for my sales managers. Say, “Hey, go take care of this customer.”
And if he forgets, guess what? Hey, the note was there. “How could you forget?” This is how you make people accountable and this is how you grow your business from the first year and forever after to be honest with you and it’s only $25 per user. It can connect to your QuickBooks, you can manage all your notes, all your communication within the company and also your numbers if you choose to. I don’t use it for numbers. I use numbers in the QuickBooks. I have different reasons for that but anything customer service is JobNimbus. I don’t know what you guys using, but if you are in the market to find CRM, I highly recommend JobNimbus, give them a call. You will not be sorry.
6) Get reviews early on and fast
You’re small jobs, it’s perfect for that. You’re only as big as you’re big on the internet. If you have a hundred reviews on the internet and 67 of them came from smaller repair jobs, people don’t care how big or small jobs are. A lot of people like that you do a small service. It tells them this story about you that you’re not there just hunting for the big jobs, but you are also taking care of the small needs. Say it how it is. If they have a repair, they hope you will offer them the repair and they also will see that you have bigger jobs and then you can help with either/or, just saying. A lot of my competition kind of ruins their reputations because if you read the biggest companies in towns, their reviews have a lot of negative comments and a lot of one-star reviews coming from pissed homeowners who are accusing brands of not wanting their business. Like I wasn’t important and my job was too small.
You don’t want that. You go in, you please the customer, charge him thousand bucks, fix his roof, grow your online presence fast and I know a lot of people, so many roofers have told me this and it drives me nuts. People saying, “I build my business on referrals.” Hey, dummy. You live with the dinosaurs in a cave. Your referrals are online. Online referrals are like… I mean, we’re in NASA era now we’re about to go to Mars. This is online reviews and old word of mouth is… I mean it’s pretty much dead. People don’t talk to each other anymore. Everything’s happening on Facebook. Everything is happening on Google. Everything happening on YouTube. Reviews are a modern word of mouth.
“Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?”
See, if you tell me you have, you’ve been in business for 30 years and everybody knows about you. I’m sorry to break your heart it’s simply not the case. I’ve met so many business owners who… I mean after 30 years in business, if you ask them how many customers they have and how many jobs they get from referrals, I beat them all the time and I’ve been in business for two years. People move way too much. You know, five years is average time a homeowner owns the house. So when you have a lot of referrals, you exist for the majority of people around you. When you don’t, and it’s just your ego who is thinking that everybody knows how good and great you are. I’m sorry to break your heart, you are not that great. Get those reviews. You’re only as big as you are on the internet and it’s not rocket science, but I’ll teach you how to do it if you let me.
7) Look at numbers and business reports
You have to start tracking your numbers early on, right away. I say it all the time. Numbers don’t lie, people do. Sometimes you will come home Friday night and you feel exhausted or maybe not productive. If you look at your numbers, which you have done, maybe you’re a door knocker, how many doors you knocked? You have to track your average ticket, how much you’re spending per job, how much you’re spending on marketing to get a job. You have to understand every single number in your business. If you ask me, I can guide you five or six years ago. I use QuickBooks online. You can use any CRM will do it for you these days. It doesn’t matter how you track your numbers, but you have to track your numbers. You have to look at a P&L reports. You have to manage your company like Warren Buffett manages his financials.
You have to understand your average ticket, how many leads you get, how many jobs you close, what’s your percentage rate. Without numbers, you will never, ever grow. You will never scale. You will never understand what’s happening and what you should be canceling, or what you should be doing more of. Only looking at numbers and legitimate reports about your business will help you understand that.
So you can do it with JobNimbus. If you want to use JobNimbus to check your numbers, you can do something like QuickBooks online. I mean, I don’t care how you do it, but start tracking your numbers with the first and second jobs that you’re going to do. It’s crucial if you want to make big bucks in the first year of business.
Those are my top seven tips to grow your business fast in the first year. Let me know what you guys think in comments below. If you want to learn more, come to one of our classes. I’ll see you guys in the next video.
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