My First Year in the Roofing Industry
My First Year in the Roofing Industry

In my first post I discussed meeting an acquaintence who owned a small roofing company in Denver, CO.  I bumped into him while checking into a yoga class and it was the strangest thing because I had just been thinking about him on the drive to the class.  When I think back on those moments I know that I was meant to be a part of this industry.  Once we discussed working together he quickly brought me on board and got me connected with his sales manager.

His sales manager was an extremely aggressive roofing salesman.  He was a veteran door to door salesman and had overcome many personal hardships including being in prison.  I was reluctant to work with him but my acquaintance who was the owner and quickly becoming my friend was a person that I trusted.  I was also on my last chance to find a decent career opportunity so I really wanted this to work out.

I remember going out into the field with the sales manager and checking on jobs and I thought to myself that this was a pretty cool job.  I had never been around construction work in this intimate way and I found it enjoyable.  The sales manager explained to me the different roofing types while driving around in his vehicle and when he told me about a roof called a “T-Lock,” I became quite fascinated. He explained to me that a T-Lock is a discontinued shingle and no longer exists. He explained that we only need a small amount of wind or hail damage on a T-Lock and the customer’s homeowners insurance will pay for a new roof replacement with no problem.  As it turns out there are many discontinued roofs out there, not just T-Locks.  I have made it my personal passion to find them and get them replaced.

As we drove around I looked for nothing but T-Locks. We pulled up to one of his jobs and the neighbor had a T-Lock.  The second we parked I swung the door open and practically sprinted to their door.  The sales manager was even a bit stunned by my initiative.  I wanted that deal and I didn’t want my aggressive boss to beat me to the punch. The homeowners liked me and they allowed us to inspect the roof.  The roof did have a small amount of hail damage and the customer was willing to sign up with me and call in the claim. This was my first customer as a roofing salesman.  That job ended up having two layers of asphalt roofing and one layer of wood shake.  It needed a new wood surface and it was about a 3000sqft roof.   It was a good job for me and the customer was delighted that the insurance paid of for it. I began to feel that I was on my way to accomplishing my goals.

After selling that roof my first day on the job I went out and canvassed the neighborhood going door to door with nothing but a yellow notepad and a pen. I had no business cards, no fancy vehicle, no nice shirt.  I was simply an honest and ambitious guy wanting to provide a useful service.  I started selling roofs in late February which meant days knocking on doors in the snow but by the end of March I had signed up about twenty customers with verifiable hail damage. They weren’t all T-Locks but they were roofs that had hail damage.  Sometimes roofing sales people in this industry will push homeowners into doing a claim even though there is no hail damage. The representative may just be inexperienced or they hope that an insurance adjuster will approve the roof out of incompetence or some other chance encounter.  Although my boss was rough around the edges, he did teach me to only recommend a claim if there was real damage.

Things went well with that company for about six months.  It was fun getting a sense of comradery with other reps and being a part of team.  However, I began having disagreements with my sales manager and the owner.  I had entered this industry because I wanted flexibility in my schedule and the freedom to make my own hours.  It was frustrating getting called at 9am on a Saturday morning and being pressured to hit sales numbers.  One evening the sales manager called me and asked why I was at yet another Rockies baseball game instead of knocking on doors.  He asked if I realized that I had attended three baseball games in the last three weeks.  I simply told him that I didn’t keep count.

I could sense that I was probably on my way out because our relationship was feeling very strained, so I began to look for other places to work.  However, this industry can be challenging in many ways and sometimes I couldn’t help but think that I wanted out of this business.  One challenge is having to wait for the insurance company to issue payments.  A roofing salesman usually gets paid once the entire job is paid in full so having to wait for the insurance company to issue payments can get painful.  In addition, once the job was paid in full my commissions were not what I was expecting because I was on an entry level commission split.  I was also feeling frustrated going out day after day canvassing neighborhoods and being told by the homeowner that they were not interested.

Despite my doubts and struggles with the business, I decided to give the job one more chance so I began calling every roofing company on Craigslist advertising for roofing salesmen.  I interviewed with a dozen companies or so and I even went out and met with company managers and owners at their office.  Unfortunately, none inspired much confidence.  Some of the companies seemed good but not a good fit for me.  The companies either wanted me to commit to a schedule or having a quota, or the company owner did not sound professional to me. I couldn’t understand why the roofing industry seem to be fraught with people that I simply did not trust.  The only one that did inspire some trust was the owner of the company I worked for now: Rocky Mountain Roofing and Restoration. He was a young guy with a lot of ambition and he took the time to address all of my concerns and made me feel comfortable.

As luck would have it, as soon as I found the new roofing company, the owner of the old company let me go.  It was a disappointing experience because I had grown to be friends with the owner but ultimately his loyalty was to his sales manager.  The sales manager drove the sales for the business and I was a thorn in his side.  He did end up paying me my final commissions as they came in (rare thing in this business) and I quickly began ramping up my sales pipeline with the new company.