A colleague of ours recently went through the lengthy process of collecting bids for a roof replacement. For most homeowners, this is a stressful process. Like most people in his situation, our colleague wanted to get a quality replacement at a reasonable price. No run-around, no B.S. Just a reasonable rate, a lasting roof, and a labor and material warranty. What he found was that it’s not quite as easy as it sounds.
The Problem with Collecting Bids
Our colleague quickly realized that not all bids are the same. Each contractor has a similar approach to the inspection, which usually involves an estimator climbing up a roof, determining the materials, and writing down measurements. The trouble is that roofers often didn’t share a lot of information about the current state of the roof, which made it more difficult for him to decide who to choose.
According to the contractors, our colleague just needed a new TPO membrane installed on top of his existing roof. They each had the same suggestion, but the estimates they sent varied. Some simply sent a price in an email. E.g.:
Looks like it will cost $_______ to replace your roof with TPO. Let us know.
Not too informational is it? It’s certainly not very friendly, either.
Other estimators sent a PDF version of an invoice. While these were in a more formal format, many of these also didn’t help our colleague understand the current state of his roof, and why something should or shouldn’t be repaired. He also had questions like: How do I really know if the whole roof needs replacing or just part of it? What do they mean, exactly, when they say there’s damage to this part of the roof?
While in many cases, an estimate won’t include line-by-line specifics about a repair (depending on the roofing company), what’s clearly missing from this approach is a conversation about the roof with photo documentation. Of the five bids our colleague received, not one of them included a single photo.
Without detailed photos, how would a homeowner know whether she needs a replacement or just a repair? She’d need to trust the word of a contractor she may have just met. A customer would feel much better about deciding if he or she was empowered with more information.
More Info for More Informed Customers
People like to make informed decisions. If they receive a bid that’s simply a number and nothing more, they could be unsure about what they’re getting. But if an estimate includes detailed imagery of damage and measurements, it’s much easier for an estimator to walk them through what’s going on with the roof, and why they’ve made certain recommendations. Taking a more hands-on approach to this process not only gives a homeowner more confidence in a roofing company, it also gives them more confidence in their decision. They’ll have more trust in you just because you took the time to fully educate them and arm them with information they need to make a choice. If you can create an estimate that allows for these kinds of conversations, you’ll look much more professional than your competition, you’ll be able to demonstrate more expertise, and customers will see that you care more about helping them make a decision. People don’t want to feel like just another job, they want to know you can take care of them, and a better estimate is one way you can do it.
How to Improve Estimates the Easy Way
Drones have become a major force in many industries, including construction. These days, a roofer can use an automated drone to literally do an inspection for them. With tools like IMGING, they can do it in as little as five minutes. Here’s how your new estimating process could work with a tool like IMGING:
- Create a flight plan for your drone.
- Send the drone to inspect a roof and gather dozens of detailed images.
- Use the IMGING app to automatically measure the roof, including specific facets.
- Let the IMGING app add up material costs, labor, and your add-ons.
- Send an estimate to customers include detailed roof images, a diagram of all the measurements, as well as the costs to fix or replace the roof.
With a process like this, you can see how quickly you can create an estimate for a roof repair, but you can also see how much information you can gather and provide your customers. When homeowners are left with so many options for roofers, they’ll often go with one they can trust. If you’re hoping to gain that trust, you can do it by educating them about the state of the roof as you walk them through detailed imagery. They’ll be better empowered to make a choice, and they’ll know they got accurate information to because you took the time to show them. In this way, a more detailed bid can result in more customer trust, more new jobs, and more referrals – plus you can complete more bids each day.
How’s that for better estimating?