Roofing can be an intense project. When something happens and you need to repair or replace your roof, people often want to get the job over with and forget about it. That often makes it tempting to go with the cheapest roofing contractor available on the market. This way, you can save yourself money and time comparing estimates.
However, the SBA (Small Business Administration) reports that 80% of roofing contractors fail within the first 2 years. In 5 years, 96% are completely out of business.
Why does this matter? Because many roofing contractors go out of business for good reason. If you know what to look for when comparing estimates, those reasons are usually evident before you hire. Things like bad customer service, poor quality work, and even toxic company culture can all signal a contractor’s imminent failure. If this is the way a contractor chooses to do business, your roofing job is likely to suffer in their hands.
On the contrary, roofing contractors that stick around past the five year threshold also achieve their longevity for a good reason—they do great work and serve their customers well.
Let’s look at a few reasons why most roofing contractors go out of business and why it’s important to look for a company that will stick around.
If there’s one scam the roofing industry is known for, it’s storm chasers. We’re not talking about the people on the weather channel who get close footage of tornadoes. In the roofing industry, storm chasers are contractors who amp up their selling game right after a major storm or other natural disaster.
These “contractors” are usually here one day and gone the next. Sometimes they come into a city after a storm to prey on innocent homeowners who are in desperate need of roof repair. While they may offer a low price at an opportune time, they often perform low quality work that doesn’t last—if they don’t just run off with your money first.
Even if you’re not dealing with storm chasers, some roofing contractors will try to pull similar tricks. They may sell roof replacements on false pretenses, provide dishonest advice about repairs, or simply provide a bad experience. In fact, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), roofing contractors were ranked 46 out of 4,510 industries for complaints in 2020, receiving 3,392 total complaints for that year. That’s about 9 complaints each day. This doesn’t even include the past 50 years of complaints in which home improvement contractors were ranked number 1 on the list for the most complaints out of any industry.
This is frustrating not just for homeowners but other roofing companies as well. Your roof is an essential part of your home, and it should be completed with the highest quality of service possible. While many contractors give the roofing industry a bad name, there are ways to distinguish between trustworthy roofing companies and the contractors who won’t be around in a few years.
One of the main reasons that roofing contractors go out of business is failure to provide good customer service. Often, if you look at a contractor’s reviews you’ll find plenty of feedback about the quality of work and the way they treat their customers. One of the main complaints you may see is sloppy work. In addition to poor quality on the roofing job itself, these contractors may leave a job site strewn with debris. Nails, shingles, plywood, and other leftovers from a roofing job may be left in the grass to destroy lawn mowers or damage the property.
You may also see reviews about inefficiency. Many times, failing roofing contractors will be disorganized. A team of workers may show up to your home without any leadership and have to wait around for a long time for a job to start.
Both low-quality work and inefficiency are major red flags, but pay attention to any reviews about service after the job is finished. If a contractor isn’t invested in their market, they will often move on from a job too soon without any regard to customer satisfaction. But what happens if there are unexpected issues with the project afterward? Do the reviews say the company handles warranty claims quickly? Are they available for support or to answer questions later on?
WARNING SIGN: Bad Reviews. Check reviews of the business on Google or the BBB first before making a decision.
A long-lasting roofing company places high value in their customers. After all, customers are the lifeblood of any successful business. If a roofing company is worth hiring, their reviews will demonstrate dedication to serving their target market.
A lot of roofing contractors go out of business because their finances are out of control. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with a small company that struggles to compete in the market. Times are hard and materials are expensive. As long as that company does great work and takes care of customers, there is opportunity for growth over time.
However, the reality is that many roofing contractors are only in the business for profit. Every business wants to make money, but roofing contractors often have an attitude that roofing is easy to sell. For these failing contractors, it’s a path to getting rich. Instead of doing careful and honest work, contractors will sell as many jobs as they can, do them all extremely quickly (and poorly), then spend that profit on whatever they want.
On the contrary, responsible roofing companies will pour that money back into the business by training their employees, hiring experts, or investing in better equipment.
WARNING SIGN: Poor investment. If a company seems to be working with poor equipment or materials or doesn’t pay its employees well, this is a sign they’ll be gone soon.
The one thing worse than dealing with a poor-quality roofing job is re-doing that roofing job. Many times, the reason contractors are able to charge so little is because they aren’t charging enough to do the job well. Instead of showcasing the quality of their work, some contractors try to win the job by offering the lowest bid.
It’s tempting to take the lowest offer, especially when roof repair or replacement projects are urgent. However, studies have shown that 80% of homeowners who take the lowest bid on a project have trouble getting it done at all.
The bottom line is that you get what you pay for. Good quality work takes money for materials and good craftsmanship. If a company isn’t charging enough to do a job well, it’s because they are making up for that cost by cutting corners in other areas. These can include:
WARNING SIGN: Ask to provide insurance. Make sure that you are added as an additional insured. Also ask how the workers are trained and how long they’ve been with the company.
In virtually any business, a bad company culture will discourage hard work or good performance. Naturally, these employees won’t be motivated to do good work and will often slack off or cut corners because they aren’t incentivized to do any better.
What’s more, a toxic work environment causes a high turnover rate. In these cases, employers are forced to hire low-tier talent to keep up with work demand.
Poor company culture is usually a sure sign of bad leadership. The attitude of the leader or head position at a company determines the attitude of the rest of the team. If the team leader is acting rude or irresponsible, the quality of work will suffer and the business will likely fail in the end.
WARNING SIGN: Inter-company conflict. If a contractor or small company shows frequent conflict, bad attitudes, or other displays of poor leadership, this is a sign they will be out of business in a few years.
Many roofing contractors and businesses offer incredible warranty policies. Some even cover a lifetime of repairs. To some, this might seem like enough assurance to cover any bad experiences or poor quality work you might encounter, but consider how it might play out in reality with a small contractor.
Offering a warranty is certainly a good business practice, however keep in mind that most roofing contractors are bound to go out of business within the next few years. If that’s true, then who will you call about your lifetime warranty 20 years later?
In addition to that, if these contractors are failing for the reasons listed above, why would you want to do business with them anyway? Even if you manage to get a decent quality roofing job, the experience and assurance afterward will likely be subpar.
That’s why it’s important to hire a trusted roofing company that will do the job well.
When choosing a roofing company for your repair or replacement job, you don’t want to hire one that will be out of business in a few years. Instead, look for a company that strives for longevity and will be around to support you after the job is complete. How do you find a company like this? Appearances can be deceiving, so the trick is to dig in and start researching your options as closely as you can. Here are a few key indicators of a good match.
In the same way that a cheap contractor will likely have bad reviews, a trustworthy roofing company will have mostly good reviews on Google, Facebook, GuildQuality, Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor and other directories. Check specifically for customer service ratings. If this is rated high, it is often a good indicator of the entire experience. Then look at how customers specifically describe the quality of work and honesty. If you see many poor reviews in these areas, you may want to consider hiring a different company.
In addition to reading customer reviews, make sure that the company is a legitimate business. A trustworthy roofing company will not do business without being bonded (legally committed to finishing the job), well-insured against damages, and properly licensed to do roofing in your area. To verify this, ask for a copy of the license and proof of insurance. You can then reach out to your city directory and the insurance carrier with that information to verify the company’s good standing.
Beyond that, a company that is committed to doing good business will also show signs of investing in a lasting brand. When looking for a roofing contractor, check to see if they have well-defined branding and a solid website. These are signs that a company has invested in the business itself and intends to stick around to serve their target market.
You should also see how long the company has been doing business in the first place. Chances are if they’ve passed the 5 year mark, they might be here to stay.
Finally, one of the most revealing aspects of a business is the people who run it. Try contacting the company directly to speak with a representative. Remember that low quality roofing contractors often present signs of poor leadership and a bad attitude. Contact a prospective roofing company for a roof inspection or simply to discuss prices. You can get a better idea for how they do business after meeting them in one form or another.
Another sure sign of a trustworthy company is quality work. While it can be difficult to find an honest picture of a company’s roofing quality (most only post the best pictures of their work online), take a close look at what is available on their website anyway. If they look like high quality jobs, that’s a good sign. But you can also assure yourself of the quality of the work in other ways.
Start by reading the customer reviews again. See what people are saying about the quality of the jobs themselves. If you know anyone in the area that recently hired this company, go check out the roof work. Looking at the finished job in person will give you an idea of what it may look like on your own home.
Finally, look at the company’s online blog or knowledge base. Any roofing company that has invested in their brand will likely have a well-designed website with content relevant to its customers. Read through the company’s written and video content to see what they say about roof repair and replacement. If they present deep understanding and industry expertise, this is a good sign that this company takes their work seriously.
Remember that when it comes to any home improvement project, you usually get what you pay for. Quality work requires more money, and you can see that play out in just about every industry. For instance, handmade, sturdy furniture is much more expensive than the factory-made stuff. It’s the same with roofing jobs. High quality materials and skilled workers cost money. That’s why it’s important to take a look at a company’s price during your decision process.
Call the company first to get an estimate. If they’re the lowest bid, it’s probably because they aren’t charging enough for materials or skilled workers. Any long-lasting and trustworthy company will certainly charge enough to get the job done right.
That said, a roofing job isn’t really about the expense. It’s about the return on investment. A new roof should be able to add value to your home in terms of resale or long-term protection. If a legitimate company presents high quality work and stellar customer service to back up the price, that’s likely the company you’re looking for.
When you’re looking for a trusted roofing company to do a high quality job, there are only a few clear choices. At Baltic Roofing, our previous work and customer testimonials prove that we can do better than small-time contractors out there. While we may not be the cheapest estimate on your list, we will certainly charge enough to do the job well.
When we’re done, our first goal after our own quality inspection is to make sure you’re satisfied with how it turned out. After that, we strive to leave the job site cleaner than it was when we got there. That way, you can rest easy with your roof repair or replacement job and go back to enjoying your home.
Just in case something unexpected happens, we offer a 10-Year No-Leak Guarantee on all roof replacements that will transfer to any new owners.
While we have plenty of great packages to offer, we’ll also be honest and upfront about what we think from a professional perspective. After our preliminary roof inspection, we’ll only recommend roof, gutter, or skylight options we think will add the most value to your home. Why? Because we know that a roof system is a long-term investment. A new roof offers incredible value whether you’re re-selling or simply trying to keep your home safe for years to come.
That said, you may not be ready to replace your roof just yet. While it’s usually better to take action sooner than later, you may feel like waiting a few years before doing the job. That’s okay. Whenever you’re ready to contact us, we’ll be around.
Roofing is a dangerous job that is best left to the professionals, particularly with steep or high roofs. The cost of a catastrophic injury is not worth the money you’re trying to save.