How to Make Money with Your Drone in Roofing

How Do Drones Help Roofing Companies?

How do you convince roofing companies that your drone services are well worth their money?

As you may know, drones are revolutionizing the roofing industry and roofing companies can really benefit from drone services.

To convince roofing contractors that they should use your services, however, you must be familiar with the problems they face and be able to explain how your drone services can solve those problems. It is especially important to demonstrate how the money the roofing contractors are paying you ends up saving them money in the long term.

Below, we pulled some of the numbers for you to help you make that argument.

In short, we believe that using drone services can help roofing contractors in two main ways:

  • It helps them stand out vs. competitors.
  • It saves them money by reducing safety risks and inspection time.

Competition in the Roofing Industry

In the United States alone, there are over 100,000 different roofing contractors.  Depending on where you are, there’s a strong chance that roofing companies have a good deal of competition.

FMI, which is a management consulting group that focuses on the construction industry, conducted an extremely detailed study to determine exactly why some contractors and construction firms end up failing and going bankrupt.  In their report, they explain the competitiveness of the industry:

“The construction industry is hyper-competitive, especially in the United States, with tight, low-margin business. Why is the industry so competitive? Construction is an easy business to get into; low barriers-to-entry and price-driven competition lead to a very competitive industry.”

And right now in 2020, the economy is relatively strong.  But when the economy starts to slow or turn, one of the first things to take a hit is the construction industry.

Just take a look at this graph from the great recession which happened around 2007.  Residential construction work plummeted, which put many contractors out of business.

 

The FMI report lists several contributing factors as to why construction firms and contractors go out of business.  Here are a few from that list…

  • Bad estimates
  • Project losses
  • Lack of business knowledge
  • Poor sales skills
  • Inadequate marketing

In other words, roofing contractors are looking for ways to improve their businesses.

Insurance Requirements

Another thing to know about the roofing industry is that most of them are required to carry expensive workers’ compensation insurance.  To give you an idea of how expensive their insurance is compared to a normal company, listen to this…

According to insurancejournal.com, the average workers’ compensation rate in the United States was around $1.88 per $100 of payroll.  That means that for someone making $40,000 per year, it would cost their employer about $752 annually for workers’ compensation insurance.

Now, to compare that to the roofing industry… a report by The Center for Construction Research and Training said that the nationwide average for workers’ comp insurance for roofing contractors was $25 per $100 in payroll!  So that means for a roofing contractor employee making $40,000 per year, it would cost their employer $10,000 for workers comp insurance each year. That’s over 12 times more expensive than the cost for the average business.  In that study, the rate for workers’ compensation in the roofing industry was the most expensive out of ALL construction categories.

That’s not even considering a scenario in which the roofer has to file a workers’ compensation insurance claim. According to , a workers’ compensation claim can negatively impact an employer in the following 10 ways…

  1. Workers’ compensation premiums will likely increase (on top of the already outrageous prices).
  2. The company may owe wages to injured workers for any absences not covered by workers’ compensation.
  3. The company will need to cover the expense of work stoppage associated with the worker’s injury.
  4. The company may incur overtime costs due to the injury.
  5. The company will need to cover the cost of administrative time spent by supervisors, safety personnel, and clerical workers after an injury.
  6. The company will need to pay to train a replacement worker.
  7. The company may lose productivity related to work rescheduling, new employee learning curves, and/or accommodation of injured employees.
  8. The company will have to cover clean-up, repair, and replacement costs of damaged material, machinery, and property.
  9. The company may have to pay OSHA fines and complete any associated legal action.
  10. The company may have a loss of goodwill if the incident was publicized.

Under the Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) collects documentation and reports of workplace injuries.  Here are a few (of the many) that we found for roofing related injuries…

“An employee was ascending a ladder to go onto a roof for a roof estimate when the ladder shifted. The employee fell from the ladder to the ground, resulting in multiple rib fractures.”   – Miramar, FL

“An employee was measuring a parapet wall on the front portico of a hotel building when he lost his balance and fell approximately 18 feet, breaking both legs, his knee, and his ankle. He was hospitalized.”   – West Plains, MO

“An employee was measuring the corner of a roof. When he adjusted his lanyard to get to the other side of the roof, he tripped and fell 21 feet to the ground. He broke his L1 vertebra and was hospitalized.”   – Lake Butler, FL

Now, let’s dig in a little bit to the fines that some of these companies face when these workplace injury events happen.  These aren’t little trivial fines like speeding tickets.  These can be very costly.  Here are a few examples from the OSHA website

An employee at a Texas roofing company fell off a roof from only 13 feet up and suffered fatal injuries.  The company was fined $10,798 by OSHA.  And remember, that is separate from and above any of the workers comp insurance costs we’ve been talking about previously.

In another instance, a roofer fell from a two-story roof in Florida and was killed.  That company was initially fined a penalty of $13,494, which was later negotiated down to $12,145.

Another one… a roofer in Oklahoma state fell from a two-story residential roof and was killed.  That company was fined $21,879.   And it looked like this was not their first OHSA fine.

There are literally THOUSANDS of these types of cases.  We went on the OSHA website where you can search for investigations and fines and there were 4,124 roof related cases.

You are getting the point now that the roofing business is dangerous and, if people get hurt, it’s incredibly expensive.

So How Can Drones Help?

Let’s reflect back on what we learned earlier about why construction and roofing companies fail… two of the reasons were bad estimates and project losses.

With a drone you can reduce the amount of times you need to get up on the roof. Unless you’re actually up there installing or repairing roofing material, you can use a drone.  So, if you’re going to do an estimate and you need to take a look at the roof, it’s condition, and get measurements, you can use a drone.  If you need to document your work after the job is done, you can use a drone.  Unless you’re up there swinging a hammer, you can use a drone.

The less time you’re actually up on a roof, the more you reduce your risk of injury and ultimately reduce the risk:

  1. large fines
  2. increased insurance premiums
  3. injury to your employees

On top of that, the drone can actually get more accurate and faster estimates than manual measurements or the use of satellite imagery.  The data you get from the drone is current (unlike a lot of satellite imagery), high resolution – so you can identify any issues or zoom in on trouble areas, and can be processed to be accurate within a few centimeters.  When you can get more accurate measurements, you reduce your risk of quoting incorrectly and suffering the consequences. If you underbid, you’ll end up eating a lot of cost.  If you overbid, you’ll likely lose the job.  Accuracy is so important.

Drones as Marketing Tools

If we once again revisit the study we discussed earlier about why construction contractors fail, you may remember that two of the factors were poor sales skills and inadequate marketing.

And, as strange as it may sound, the drone can be a GREAT marketing tool.

Imagine you’re a customer trying to decide between two roofing companies.  The estimates were similar in price, both have pretty good reviews online, and you think each could probably do a satisfactory job.

Company #1 gives you the price on a sheet of paper with a handwritten number and price.

On the other hand, company #2 hands you a beautiful estimate presentation with aerial photos of your house, every angle of your roof, and specific measurements of each section of your roof. This company also says that they will use the drone to repeat the same documentation process when the job is done so you can have an accurate record of roof condition when the roof replacement/repairs are finished.  That way, if you ever need to provide measurements to another contractor, you have them. Or if you ever you need to prove the roof condition as of a certain date to your insurance company, you have all of the documentation you need.

Which company do you think you’d chose… company #1 or company #2?

The answer seems pretty obvious, huh?

Overall, it’s clear that drones can be a great tool for roofing industry professionals. They:

  • offer a safer way to inspect roofs (which leads to cost savings)
  • provide a higher level of accuracy (which also leads to cost savings)
  • and even prove to be an excellent marketing tools (which leads to landing more jobs).

Want to learn more about using drones for roof inspections?

If you want to learn more about inspecting roofs in a safer, more accurate way, be sure to check out our FREE, hour-long webinar: How Drones Are Changing the Roofing and Solar Industries (And How You Can Profit From It).

The webinar covers:

  • How drones can help solar sales skyrocket
  • Why a roofing or solar company would want to use a drone
  • The 3 things you need to master to make money in this area

Be sure to check it out!

Audrey Snow-Brine

Audrey Snow-Brine

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