When you are driving to perform a roof inspection, you are really about to inspect two things.
Inspection #1: The Roof
Inspection #2: The Building Owner's Mindset, Motivations, and Financial Means
90% of the commercial roofing contractors I speak with simply do not ask enough of the right questions.
Asking the right questions is a skill that must be learned and rarely comes naturally.
It's crucial to developing rapport and being able to fully understand the big picture.
If a building owner meets with 3 contractors to get 3 estimates, and you ask the most thoughtful and thorough questions...
You are likely to be viewed as more of an ally to the building owner than the contractors who ask less questions.
Here are just some questions you may want to consider asking:
"How long have you owned this building?"
"How long do you plan on keeping it?"
"Why do something about the roof now and not later?"
"What's the liability or risk of leaving the roof as it is?"
"What does the perfect outcome of this project look like to you?"
"Do you have the funds for the project ready or will you be needing to secure a loan?"
If you’re asking the right questions, you may get some pushback.
That’s perfectly OK and to be expected.
You’re prodding and digging deeper than a typical contractor.
Here is how you can get the conversation back on track if you receive some form of pushback from the building owner.
Building Owner: "You're asking a lot of personal questions..."
You: “Mr. Building Owner, I’m assuming that you’ve been to the doctor before with an ailment that bothered you, correct?”
Building Owner: "Of course/sure/yes”
You: “Now when the doctor sat with you, did he just take a glance at you and start writing a prescription right away?”
Building Owner: “No, I guess not”
You: “He probably asked you a few questions to learn more about your problem, right?”
Building Owner: “Yes, good point”
You: “Mr. Building Owner, I’m just trying to learn as much as I can about your situation so I can make sure I do not commit roofing malpractice. I simply want to make sure my solution and expert recommendation is based on accurate information and facts rather than my assumptions.”
Then move on with your line of questioning…
Make sure to take notes and actively listen when the building owner speaks.
A technique called “Mirroring” is very effective for this.
You simply repeat the last two or three words of the building owner’s sentence after he’s finished, which will show him you are listening and typically urge him to share more information with you.
This process may seem uncomfortable at first if you're not used to asking layers of questions.
That’s perfectly normal, don't worry.
Do your best to push through the discomfort and understand that the answers you receive will help you provide the building owner with a proposal he's more likely to resonate with.
Ask enough of the right questions with the right intentions, and the building owner will help you sell himself.
(There's a reason why we have 2 ears and just one mouth)
In the next section, we will discuss using Drones and a FLIR camera to set yourself apart.