Every Tuesday night, I attempt (and I use the term loosely) to run with much younger guys on the basketball court. Every time I play, the owner of a very prominent local roofing company brings several of his young — much larger guys — to play with us. Suffice it to say: I stay out of their way.
It got me thinking about what makes his company successful in our local market. Sure, they run ads, sponsor a local little league team, likely canvass neighborhoods and other lead gen activities, align with a major manufacturer for greater exposure, wrap their trucks in logos, etc. You get the idea.
Does all that outreach make them successful? Probably not, because they'd be wasting their money if they can’t back up all that “branding” with great service and high customer satisfaction.
Core Values Make for Success
This owner recently put out a question on Facebook asking if homeowners really read online reviews. As a homeowner, I responded that I don’t put much stock in reviews since, at best, it’s just a snapshot of the issue.
I told him I prefer word-of-mouth referrals: “Who’d you use? Were they good? Did they clean up? Were they priced fairly? Did they follow up on any issues?"
Don’t get me wrong, sifting through online reviews should be part of a homeowner’s due diligence, but I’m suggesting that word-of-mouth is likely far more effective; don’t discount it; neighbors talk. For example, one neighbor recently asked me to recommend a roofing company. I offered the company we’re discussing now because they are very good. While not the least expensive, that’s ok because the service component of its business is what sets them apart.
Is my friend’s company perfect? No. Were there issues with my neighbor’s install? Yes.
There were a few items to address, and, you know what? The company listened, had a crew back at this neighbor’s house, and, most critically, stayed there until the homeowner was pleased with the resolution. That is the key to its success: the company listened to its customer and followed up.
Whether you are a roofing supply distributor, roofing materials manufacturer, or a roofing contractor, take heed of that story's lesson. The bottom line is listen to your customers. It’s that simple. It’s not only about doing the job perfectly the first time (nirvana!).
It’s about listening to your customers' needs and concerns, acknowledging them, and acting on their feedback.
And that mantra is applicable throughout the entire supply chain: Manufacturers should listen to their distributor partners; distributors should listen to their contractors, and; contractors should listen to their homeowners.
It’s not rocket science: everybody wants to be heard, acknowledged and supported.
For supply distributors looking to make inroads with vendors, manufacturers and contractors, make an effort to establish a reliable communications channel — which requires action on your part. Offer to buy them breakfast or lunch, ask about any pain points, and what you can do to create more seamless transactions as a supplier.
Caution: be prepared to hear things that may not all be positive. If you listen — not in a defensive posture —and offer support, they’ll keep coming back to you.
Reciprocity is a Two-Way Street
The above advice works across all channels. If your network of roofing contractors listens to the feedback from their homeowner customers and can provide solutions to satisfy their concerns, they win, too. It’s “customer for life” and “referral city” from then on!