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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been working in the roofing industry for a few years as a salesman. I enjoy the money, and freedom that comes with the job. I've recently finished my BS in Economics from a good university, and I'm torn between pursuing a regular job or starting my own roofing company.

I have the capital, knowledge, and resources to do it. I guess my real question is who out there is making a good income($100k+) running their own company and how much do you enjoy it?
 

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It really depends on your market in your area. Are you going to sub everything out or hire employees? Can you afford not to have any income for a few months?

There are a lot of things to think about as I'm sure you know. I know in our area now is not a great time to start a new company, but yet people still do.

Ours was started in the early 80's not a great time to start either, but it survived and did well but the first few years were very lean, like seriously roman noodles and mac and cheese every day lean.

As with any business there will be a lot of sacrifice. Long hours and low pay at the beginning, Long hours and better pay at the end.

If you can start out at a job right now for $100,000 a year honestly I would do that.

Of course this is just my opinion.
 

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You are NOT going to start making $100k in roofing then again you are not going to start making $100k right out of college in 99% of the cases either.

$100k is not really a lot, I know some salesmen earning in excess of $100k on a regular annual basis. But roofing is very much fast and famine, and forget what the business gurus say the boss gets paid last not first. I lost nearly a quarter of a million dollars the first few years running my business. I have begun to operate in the fiscal black 3 years ago, and this year cumulatively broke even. That's 8-9 years shelling out alot of cash paying mostly for other people's (employees) mistakes. While no doubt if you make less mistakes your upfront investment will be less, regardless I thought I had the starting capital as well... I thought I anticipated everything and operational mistakes aside I only had accounted for a fraction of upfront expenses. My advice is what ever you think you need, double it. I thought I accounted for everything down to the last ream of paper, the last ball point pen, and I found out I was really clueless.



There are ALOT of things for you to consider when writing your business plan. Roofing has very many business models, and those with the least quality control seem to make the most profit.


I can talk on for hours and hours and hours at the subject. You are either a business owner at heart or you are not. When things got tough a few years ago I thought hard about quitting. I did not for primarily one reason, I am a serial entrepreneur. I'd have gone off to work for someone else then started my own business again after a few years. I know this because I know myself.

You can make ALOT of money being the #2 man in a successful business. Don't be the #1 man unless you have a gigantic ego. I think the #2 man is often smarter than the #1 man anyways, the earning gap usually isn't that much different and at the end of the day the #2 man has alot less responsibility and stress because chit rolls UPHILL in business. All the cliches (like chit rolls down hill) you have heard the business gurus say are all wrong!


What ever you do if you build a business, don't build a business that revolves around one person (you). This is a chronic mistake of nearly all business owner that all they end up doing is building themselves a job. It is my opinion you should build a business that you can be removed from the equation. A business that operates without the day to day manipulation of the business owner. I equate it to McDonalds, the guy who owns the store isn't flipping the burgers. If the guy who owns the store is sick or on vacation the store continues to operate without him and continues to generate income for him. Your business should be a money machine, not a job. If you intend to build yourself a job don't even start.



And dude, keep your overhead extremely low. Don't put the cart in front of the horse, don't buy stuff until it'll pay for it's self. START SLOW. That's the biggest mistake I made, growing too quickly. GROW SLOW. Hire 1, make sure he's worthy of retention, then hire another if/as necessary. Don't hire 1, 2, 3 then decide 1 is a loser. You'll be spread way too thin and are setting them all up for failure without proper training.


Last thing I will mention, all business owners... it is essential checks and balances are in place to ensure nobody (employees and customers) is screwing you. Like our government should operate where each branch has check over the other. No one branch has sole (or should have) sole authority. The root of most of your problems are going to come from sales, so keep your sales department on an extremely short leash and very well supervised by the production department. Checks and balances; measure, remeasure, install, inspect. Have sales double check all invoices your financial department sends out to ensure accuracy. Lord knows I've screwed myself out of thousands (which I was able to recoup most of it) with invoice mistakes. Like I said one department checks the other.


Oh and you may be thinking I am a colossal idiot, and there are scores of people will agree with you, you're gonna make a metric ton of mistakes just like me. I'm just one of the few people willing to share my mistakes with the general public. Most people like to sweep their mistakes under the rug and ignore or forget.
 

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Wow! Great article Grumpy-You've given me a lot to think about. The part about the business being a money machine and not a job was an interesting reminder. There is a Great book on the subject: The E-Myth Revisited. Whether being the boss is what one wants or not is a good thing to consider. "Know thyself."

__________________________________
Roofing Madison
Siding Madison
 

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Michael Gerber, the author of Emyth, and myself are kindred spirits. I had never heard of emyth, well I had heard of it but thought it was something other than what it is. A friend on the forums once called me a student of emyth because of some things I was saying. After a short conversation I got the first emyth. Then the revisited version. They also have a contractor version which I haven't looked at yet. What emyth has done for me is not so much change my way of thinking, because I was already there, but has allowed me to better verbalize and given me some details I was missing. Some other training by the late Richard Kaller play very well into the organizational approach to business. His words were "if I die tomorrow everyone else involved needs to be able to pick up where I left off with no down time." That can only be done with systems, training, and organization.... All this becomes the money machine.

Organize and systematize, the keys to a successful business.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's good advice Grumpy. Starting slow would be the best approach. Growing fast is good, but growing too fast is not. I also have an entrepreneurial mindset. I really do believe I would find it difficult to work a regular 9-5, in a cubicle at that.

I have Army training coming up for a few months. After, that I'll start my company. It will be during the winter so I'll have no choice, but to start slow. Hopefully by the time spring rolls around I'll be ready to kick some ass.
 

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Capital depends on what your business model will be. If you plan to sub everything out you can start with minimal capital. If you are going to hire one employees, you will need more for equipment, trucks etc...

You are gong to need:
At least 1 truck, even if just for estimates.
Ladder
Computer
cell phone
business cards
website
stationary, paper, ink, envelopes, file cabinets, etc...

You may likely have all that. Though above described is about $3,000 not counting the truck, which could vary from $1,000-$30,000.

I would suggest a PO box if you are going to work from home so people don't come ringing your door bell. $350 a year.

Signage on your truck is something you should get once the money starts rolling in.

Yard signs also you should get after you sell a few jobs.

Advertising to really get going is going to be your biggest overhead in the first few years until the referrals start rolling in. Unless of coarse you are going to be a storm chaser in which case you don't need referrals.



If you are going to use employees, you may need more ladders, saws, compressor, generator, nail guns assuming shingles, maybe table saw if you plan to do the roof right and fix substrate issues, hoses, extension cords, scaffolding, ladder jacks... All of which I would say let your customers finance. Take down payments and buy equipment only as necessary. You can also rent if really necessary but if it is something you will use often it's cheaper to buy. You'll also need secure storage for all these new toys, and a security system for the truck. Above described could easily be $5k plus storage.
 

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Capital depends on what your business model will be. If you plan to sub everything out you can start with minimal capital. If you are going to hire one employees, you will need more for equipment, trucks etc...

You are gong to need:
At least 1 truck, even if just for estimates.
Ladder
Computer
cell phone
business cards
website
stationary, paper, ink, envelopes, file cabinets, etc...

You may likely have all that. Though above described is about $3,000 not counting the truck, which could vary from $1,000-$30,000.

I would suggest a PO box if you are going to work from home so people don't come ringing your door bell. $350 a year.

Signage on your truck is something you should get once the money starts rolling in.

Yard signs also you should get after you sell a few jobs.

Advertising to really get going is going to be your biggest overhead in the first few years until the referrals start rolling in. Unless of coarse you are going to be a storm chaser in which case you don't need referrals.



If you are going to use employees, you may need more ladders, saws, compressor, generator, nail guns assuming shingles, maybe table saw if you plan to do the roof right and fix substrate issues, hoses, extension cords, scaffolding, ladder jacks... All of which I would say let your customers finance. Take down payments and buy equipment only as necessary. You can also rent if really necessary but if it is something you will use often it's cheaper to buy. You'll also need secure storage for all these new toys, and a security system for the truck. Above described could easily be $5k plus storage.
Ouch...$350 for a PO box? I pay 60 or 100 a year, can't remember which.
 

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Except mine shows as an actual mailing address and isn't a PO BOX 123, Chicago, IL 60630 With with the UPS store in a very affluent neighborhood. They have smaller boxes too, but since I only check my mail once or twice a week I opt for this, and since I get lots of gun parts heavy boxes of ammunition also mailed and the guys keep that stuff on the racks in the back of the store, I figured pay the little bit extra. Great guys to work with, not like at the US Post office, where they go postal.
 
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grumpy

grumpy im taking in everything u said. Im wanting to start my own roofing business. I have good friends that are roofers and need a good job but dont have the money or avenues to start there own business. So that where i come in. I want to get the equipment and box truck so everything is self contained. My ? is in illinois u have to be licensed will i have to get license being the owner or can i have an employee do this and still get my license in iland do u think this can be done with me having no experience in roofing
 

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If you have no experience in roofing, you won't get a license easily. You'll have to study the books videos etc... Most people fail their first time even people with roofing experience.

Whom ever is the qualifying party, the person who passed the exam, must be a partial owner of the company in order to apply their qualifying credential to the company. This is a new law passed last year I believe to combat the out of town storm chasers. You know the shananigans they play.


Why do you NEED a box truck? Start with a van or something less expensive, crawl before you walk before you run. Generally speaking you can start a shingle roofing business for much much less than $10k with all necessary equipment and 1 used vehicle. If you are charging right (lol what new businesses actually charge right) you can have that $10k paid off in the first month. That's why there is sooooooooooooo much competition.

BTW if you've got $250k laying around I know a roofing company for sale.
 

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Starting Your Own Roofing Company

Starting your own roofing company can be very difficult at first because people often want references and testimonials from past customers. If you don't have some jobs lined up, then you are going to have a difficult time getting started in the roofing industry.

If you have been in the industry that long, perhaps you have some friends with their own businesses that would be willing to take you on as a partner. Or, you can setup as a subsidiary of another roofing company owned by a friend. This way you have a reputable roofing company to back you and you can use their references, resources, and testimonials to get started.

However, once you get started there is a lot of room to make a very good income. You need some great online marketing, my business MCAS Roofing & Contracting found a local marketing company to help with our website and search engine optimization (if you want to check them out their site is www.innovativeadsolutions.com). Having a good roofing business requires that you are great at what you do, but also requires getting your name out there. Internet marketing is the first step. If you have anymore questions, please feel free to contact myself, Michael Casolaro, owner of MCAS Roofing & Contracting Inc at www.westchesternyroofers.com. I have recently started my own roofing company also so I have a lot of information to offer you. Where are you located? We are in Westchester, NY which has a wide range of income levels and diverse demographics. It offers a lot of opportunity for roofers.
 

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Starting your own roofing company can be very difficult at first because people often want references and testimonials from past customers. If you don't have some jobs lined up, then you are going to have a difficult time getting started in the roofing industry.
When I started I didn't have a single job lined up. But I knew how to get work, and get it quick, since that's what I had been doing at my previous company. I hit the floor running and within a couple weeks had work rolling in.

If you have been in the industry that long, perhaps you have some friends with their own businesses that would be willing to take you on as a partner. Or, you can setup as a subsidiary of another roofing company owned by a friend. This way you have a reputable roofing company to back you and you can use their references, resources, and testimonials to get started.
Personally I wouldn't take on a partner unless they brought something great to the table. There is also very few I would open up liability to being a true legal subsidiary of my company.

I'd sell my company before I would partner, most partnerships end out badly. But buying an established business is another option, and something I looked at when I started my business but most business owners over value their business. Good will is real, but only goes so far. If I were to buy another business, I would buy it's assets, it's website, it's phone number, etc... but not it's liabilities, not it's corporation. [/QUOTE]
 

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Can't even begin to wrap my head around losing gobs of money. I'm down $23k but I'm not a conglomerate. I started small with NO CAPITAL and 1 truck. Started in the middle of this eco-mess so we're still small, been in survival mode. Things are getting better now so it might be a good time to jump in. I've gotten much more aggressive in the last year.
To me the most important things are
Marketing - Getting the jobs
Pricing - Gotta' make money or stay home . . .
Crew - Putting together that first crew may be the toughest.
On marketing - As a growing roofing company in Miami, FL we have taken an organic as possible approach to marketing. We’re not on PPC(Google Adwords) or lead generators(Service Magic) as they’re expensive and results are short term. We are investing in http://www.roofermikeinc.com, which I wrote myself and took the pics for and paid a computer geek friend $100 at a time to build ($2K to date). After a year and a half it looks and ranks pretty good. This investment will pay off in the long term as we perfect the site and the domain ages.
To get leads NOW we do pay a few directories including eLocal Roofers, A’s List and BBB. These sites get good results with great quality backlinks to our site. We are increasing our Facebook and Google Plus presence (Free!) In a smaller market I think eLocal, with the targeting it offers, along with a good website and listings in the free directories (Yelp) might be enough. There are about 10-15 good local directories for roofing contractors. In a very tough market like Miami, roofers need more and our “almost all of the above” approach is a sound strategy to build on.
You, with some working capital behind you, can fast-track this and find a good SEO to build a website. In 2-3 months you could see dramatic results.
Like Roofer Mike (Inc) @ www.Facebook/RooferMikeInc
 

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I would say it depends on the market and the competition. Some parts of the country (south for example) had so many years of heavy hail damage that people used insurance money to reroof, which threw off the natural pace of roof replacement projects.

If you think roofing, think of other services that you can provide as well. Good luck with this. Owning your own company can be very rewarding, but also very stressful at times.
 

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Online marketing will always be more expensive and less rewarding. Online presence has importance, however every site looks the same. Every company is the self proclaimed best and I don't excuse myself from this comment.
I will say this, experience and consistent effort doubles and has doubled my gross rev and profit every year for the last 4 years even in a down economy. I know, I'm great.
 

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Online marketing will always be more expensive and less rewarding. Online presence has importance, however every site looks the same. Every company is the self proclaimed best and I don't excuse myself from this comment.
I will say this, experience and consistent effort doubles and has doubled my gross rev and profit every year for the last 4 years even in a down economy. I know, I'm great.
Expensive? Please explain. If you think online marketing is expensive (when compared to traditional print media) you may be doing somethign wrong. I was able to cut my cost per lead down to 1/10th what I was paying on print media when I moved ALL my advertising to online. Currently 99.99% of my online is FREE which means my advertising budget has dropped to almost nothing other than my investment of time. I get most of my leads from the internet.
 
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