Volume based roofing companies AKA "Sticker Companies" started to form in the late 60's in the roofing industry. They were formed by well educated business people that had success in other industries, but decided to focus in residential roofing at first. None of them really grew up in the roofing industry where the whole family worked as a team in a local small roofing business; They mostly consisted of one or two individuals at the top, and worked in a pyramid format. They have been quite successful at keeping people employed all year round, but to do this they have to sometimes offer rock bottom pricing.
One of the big issues with offering bottom line pricing in the roofing industry, is you have to get deals on supplies from roofing manufacturers. The problem here is that almost every roofing manufacturer in our world can only give away their cheapest shingle, or cheapest made materials when a roofing company wants to purchase in volume. The cheapest roofing products can also be called seconds, but if your not a roofing contractor or roof consultant, you will not be able to recognize
Basically in 95% of
sold jobs by a volume based roofing company, the home-owner will receive an industry standardized roof which is of a lesser quality product. An industry standard roof is OK, and will keep your insurance company happy, but they are also pro-rated from an insurance company's perspective. What this means is that an insurance company will start to up a home-owners rates after the 15-20yr mark sometimes without even an explanation other then common inflation.
Many consumers, and people in general think that there's a lot of brains behind a volume based business, but the fact is that's really far and in-between the real out-looked facts. The main principle "MO" (Method of Operation) is to buy jobs to put up signs when business is slow, and when everybody gets busy then up the rates. It's actually kind of stupid, but simple. Not many people realize that volume roofing companies lose tens of thousands of dollars per year to anywhere from buying jobs, to people that don't pay on time, to general contractors that screw them around for months without payment. Again in a volume companies mindset, its all about keeping busy, and looking busy?
They are also always worried about the competition, so they figure with cheap priced crews, the owners hope they can one day, choke out the competition as-well. When the competition is gone, then they can up the rates in some areas? They also think that keeping their staff employed in the bad times, will enable them to have them around when the competition isn't a problem, and they can again "Raise their rates" It's sort of a 1960s mindset. Outdated, and a bit ridiculous.
Today volume based roofing companies are struggling, because of the power of the Internet and the new economy that is growing around them. Many people use search engines like Google or Bing to find a business in their area or use their own voice, and go with a word of mouth reference scenario. If you can find your local yellow-pages paperback directory, you'll notice companies with panoramic ads. Most of these are volume based roofing companies in your area. They still depend on the power of an older generation that still uses these books to find professionals, but lately they have also been spending thousands of dollars on Google ads to SEO companies that can offer their name to appear at the top spot for a consumer search based upon key roofing words that consumers use for a search on roofing related info. The problem here is that on the first same page, that small local roofer also appears for the consumer. This is actually tearing away at the inner guts of a volume based company.
A volume based roofing company needs so many calls in a day, and so many paid calls in a day to continue to pay it's large massive overheads. Most panoramic ads in your local yellow-pages directory start at $1500.00, and can go up to $2500.00 per month depending on which area and book the ad is going in, so you can just imagine the overheads that some of these volume based companies have if they're in multiple books? One has to remember that they're not drug dealers, so at the end of the day somebody has to pay for those ads.
What recently has been happening for these types of businesses, is that they have to put more pressure on their sales people, and their staff. The staff will have to drop their wages or the owners will threaten them with being replaced by cheaper help. What internally happens here is that the sales people of a volume based business will get more aggressive in nature. They will slander other roofing companies or they will hound and hound a customer until they can sign them up for a new roof.
Volume roofing companies are famous for hiring street people, druggies, silent to hidden drug users, and people that cant hold a dime to their name. They have also been known for hiring X-Roofing contractors that had a bankrupt or failed roofing company prior. These particular contractors had trouble running their own independent business cause of a variety of issues besides drugs etc., so they join a volume based company hoping it will be easier on them.
Once the owner of a volume based roofing company acquires these types of individuals, they will usually treat them every year to something special. It could be a special hunting or fishing trip to a remote area, or just a free trip somewhere? It has been known in psychology that this type of behavior really does stimulate certain people, and make them believe that they are appreciated? They will usually end up losing any negative thoughts towards the volume based company or it's owners when anything negative arises throughout the work year.
This category of staff represent about 85% of a volume companies structure. The last 15% is the owners, foremen, estimators, and managers or secretaries. These people are often good hard working people except for the owners whom usually blame them if anything goes wrong. The funny thing with these people is that they can work for 20+ years for a volume based company and be fired just the same as one of the druggies tomorrow? It's the sad part of a volume based business structure. It's hard to believe, but sometimes it takes 20+ years for some people to realize that they're not respected, and the only loyalty given means nothing. Again volume based companies are all about the bottom line.
The other more bigger issue is that a roof is not something you can purchase off a shelf at a box store. It's not a blender, toaster, or a frying pan that one could compare prices from other box stores. A roofing system is not something you look at with a Walmart or Target approach. It's sole purpose is to keep mold, and water moisture out of your home or building. It cant be systematically changed into something that you can have installed by robots either. It is always going to need the services of a human professional to have it assembled properly for your designed building or residence.
At the roofing groups perspective, is that volume based roofing companies will slowly fade away in time due to the power of the top 5 paragraphs.
The four (4) reason's why a consumer or a building owner chooses a volume based company over the smaller local other business to do their roofing job is as follows below:
1) They feel safe when they see that large pricey ad in their local yellow pages paperback publication directory?
2) They feel that they are safe and protected by this guarantee or warrantee when or if something goes wrong down the road?
3) They believe without a doubt in their minds that they have gotten the biggest bang for their dollars, and that no one else could beat that factor?
4) The fourth and final reason is that they believe that seeing various signs around town that the company must be great otherwise why would they be getting so many jobs?
The truth is that if your roof is installed to a manufacturers specifications then you ultimately have a warrantee by that manufacturer. A major manufacturer has a warrantee on their products. It doesn't matter how big or small the roofing company is. As long as the roof is installed to the manufacturers specs then you have a warrantee above the roofing company by the manufacturer. This protects the consumer or building owner if the roofing company goes out of business or wont come back and solve a problem with their finished roof system.
The final issue is that a volume roofing company only gives an industry standard (5) years guarantee on the roof anyway. In this guarantee, it is full of conditions. If you got a 25 or 30 year shingle then that means that you have that style. It is what we call the product for product stock, and inventory reasons. It doesn't mean that you as a building or home owner have a 25 or 30 year guarantee on the roof if it were to leak. Check it out.
Also if you do engage in a contract with a volume based company, and lets say after two years passes, and there is a leak or a problem with the roof, it takes weeks to sometimes months before anyone comes out to check the roof site out. Here's the thing with volume companies; They don't realistically have a problem solver in their business. The reason for this is why and how they stay cheap. The owners wont come to work on your home. They wont even be there when the roof gets started or when its completed? They're busy with marketing, and they will not spend money to have a full blown roofing contractor available to supervise or to intervene in problem solving. What ends up happening is you the building or home-owner will have to contract out to another contractor for repairs or inspections if needed.
If your a home-owner or building-owner and you are thinking of hiring a volume based roofing company, you should ask to view a job in progress first and foremost. The estimator should be able to give that to you. When you visit the site, try an talk to one of the roofers, and ask them how long they have been working for the company? Don't feel shocked if the roofer says he just started today or last week, cause it's quite normal for a volume based roofing company to go through 100-150 men in just one year. Also ask them if they have any certifications? While your there have a look at how they place their materials.
If you've given them a 50-100K torch-on job, then its important for that roof to be installed with precision. If they've got the materials on the roof without any tarps in the fall then that's not a good sign. You don't want trapped moisture inside a torch-on roof. This will give you problems down the road. Torch on roofs should be done when there is no rain in the forecast during the application. Another important note is that a volume roofing company will push it's crews in bad weather, so if they're going to tear your roof off with a forecast calling for anything more then a 80% chance for rain or precipitation, then ask them this question; "Does your insurance cover employee accidents or interior damages when negligence can be foreseen"?
Also ask them about their safety plans on the job.
If they're up on your roof with an open flame, then there's always concerns. Also look in their trucks to see how they keep their tools, and have a look inside their trucks. If they look like slobs then they probably are. Having an unorganized truck doesn't put the roof on, but it does show you the types of people who are! Below is a simple explanation of how you are labeled in the eyes of a volume based roofing company.
Will you be customer "A" or customer "B" of a Volume Based Roofing Company?
In the operations of a volume based roofing company, customer "A" is a customer calling when the roofing company is slow, hungry for work, and needs to keep it's staff working so they will be available to the roofing company when times get better. Customer "A" calls and gets sold on a price that beats all other competitors out. Customer "A" called at the right time, but doesn't even know it. Customer "A" gets his, her, or their industry standardized roof at a rock bottom price.
Customer "B" calls up, and the roofing company is swamped with work. At this time the owners and estimators have probably had their recent meetings, and are ready to sell at their high costs. Customer "B" will be paying a premium to hire the roofing company now. Customer "B" will be paying a percentage of the roofing companies office, yard, fleet upkeep, insurance, ads, and the lost money that was lost on the sale of customer "A". Customer "B" will also be paying a percentage of even the roofing owners lifestyle.
Here's the thing; Our roofing company operates and conducts business from Vancouver to Hope BC, and there's not too many residential homes under 500K in these areas. The cheapest home in Vancouver is 1M. In Chilliwack, the cheapest one is half of that, and climbing everyday. The bottom line is that if you own a home in this area, you should be able to have that roof installed by a local reputable company for a realistic profitable price.
We don't feel like we have to buy any jobs in this area. At the roofing groups perspective is that all jobs are profitable, otherwise it's just pure stupidity to buy any job so that our guys have work. The roofing group does not have staff, employees, or hot headed foremen screaming and yelling at the cavalry everyday. We work with contractors that are set-up inside our industry for the types of roofing that is sold by our company.
They end up flooding the industry with shingler's, and roofing laborers that only have a few years experience in one or two areas of the roofing industry. When these guys get sick of working for a local volume based roofing company, they leave and try and start their own business. This causes the rates in the industry to fall to a point where in many cases the jobs aren't worth doing in the first place? This is one of the biggest reasons why the roofing group does not install many laminated asphalt shingle roofs anymore.
We realize that people have to work to make a living, but in the roofing industry it is very serious. Its not a joke. This picture shows a crew of a volume roofing business that wears no harnesses. You only see air hoses for their air guns. If they can get away with not wearing a harness, then they will. If they fall, and there is a serious accident, you the home-owner or building owner can be held liable. Check to see if their insurance covers negligence? Also if they're smoking weed on the job, then that can be a problem too. Many pitched roofers love being stoned out of their minds on the job, and this can be great for them, but guess what? If it is found that they were doing drugs, and an accident happens, then no insurance company with cover costs associated with that.
Here's another small crew with no harnesses resting on a roof jack with a 2X6 up on a very high steep pitched residential new construction roof. One guy has no shirt, and others are wearing shorts giving a high 5 for a picture? To them theres nothing wrong with this, but in the eyes of legal liability, it's very concerning. This is one of the reasons why volume companies have to have a safety person on hand. The only problem with that is they could be just one of the staff, and can be very lenient in many cases depending on where the job is or how high pitched the roof is? Volume based roofing companies are a true menace in the roofing industry. They cut rates to land certain jobs, but never worry about any consequences.
The other issue or thing about volume companies is that their salesman have been known for going out to a leak call where the roof is only twelve (12) years old or less, and instead of solving a simple repair, they will immediately push for a new roof, instead of a simple fix? The reason is that a salesman for a volume company makes no money on selling a repair, so brainwashing the customer into a full replacement is what they will push for. We've actually witnessed these sorts of companies doing this while we ourselves are out in the field, and we just shake are heads? A twelve year roof that was originally consisting of a 25-30 year laminated fiberglass shingle can easily go 25 years with a repair or two, no problem. The other thing is that the leak could have been as simple as a flashing detail or just a skylight issue, nothing to do with the actual shingle anyway?
Did you know that McDonalds has a plain jane cheeseburger without cheese or anything other then a grade D hamburger in it? Check it out. They have it. Go buy one, and then make a Grade A cheeseburger with homemade sliced cooked mushrooms, imitation crab meat, red onions, Greenleaf lettuce, fresh ripe lush red tomatoes, bacon on a whole wheat ciabatta bun, and then compare the tastes of the two? The thing is that if your starving to death out in the desert then the basic one will keep you alive for a few hours, but you maybe starving your body of quality where you don't operate the same as if you ate something healthy. It's the same for your roof.
If you knew that your roofer would work for weed, a case of beer, and a homemade dinner, would you just hire him? Do you care if he has a criminal record? Do you care if he brings his favorite friends to help him on your roof? Do you care if he or his helpers are also staking out your home for theft? Do you want a pot smoking, know it all stiff working on your roof? We know weed is now legal, but does that mean we should all be using it behind the wheel or on a roof?
Think about 3AM now. Think of having a good nights sleep while there's 3' feet of snow on your roof, and ask yourself if you've actually achieved peace of mind when it comes to the people that installed your roof? Wouldn't it feel better knowing that the roofer on your roof was a family man, clean from drugs, and installed your roof while he wasn't stoned out of his mind?
Quantity or volume can never replace quality, and no one can ever tell you that you can get quality for less, because anyone knows that you simply cant. Quality costs money for a reason. Quality will always trump quantity. While quantity in all its known forms can simply cut corners, shave ends, bend the rules, and embrace itself as a contender; It cant ever totally replace quality. The only thing that is measured the same is that quantity, and quality do speak for themselves individually.