What is the biggest and most overlooked key to growing a roofing business?
Join our special guest Rae Boyce, Director of Operations at Integrity Pro Roofing, as she breaks it down in this month's blog post!
Have you ever looked at a sales professional, or a colleague, or another business, and wondered exactly what they know that you don’t? Are they successful because of training, marketing, product line, staff, demographics, location?
Are they using specific software that’s driving revenue and retaining customers? Are they leveraging reviews to build brand trust in innovative ways? Do they have magically developed carrier pigeons who are trained to sprinkle pixie dust over customers’ heads and hypnotize them to sign contracts immediately?
The truth is, there are a wide number of variables that go into a thriving business, as you know. There’s no secret sauce for “overnight success.” But there is a widely overlooked, vastly underappreciated skill that can take your roofing business to the next level.
And guess what? It doesn’t require a line item in your budget, more highly adept staff, or new tech.
What can transform your business, both internally and externally, whether you’re a team of 1 or a team of 1,000?
If you’re rolling your eyes, I get it. It’s a lot easier to talk about other business strategy – risk prevention, job costing ROI, the everyday operations that suck up your time and make you lose hair (and sleep).
Isn’t empathy just a word reserved for other people doing other things – like therapists or counselors or people who are born that way? Is it really for roofers and business owners?
Empathy is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” In other words, it’s listening to another human being and understanding how they’re feeling, what they’re feeling, why they’re feeling it.
If you’re familiar with Simon Sinek’s work, you may know that he really hates the term “soft skills.” Skills like empathy, listening, communication, time management have often been referred to as “soft skills” and overlooked in lieu of other business skills such as data analysis, project management, or revenue generating activities like marketing, copywriting, and lead gen.
What we’ve seen and come to learn is that all these skills are crucial business skills – powerful tools that your business needs at its core. We’ve also come to learn that these so called “soft skills” are the very basis of human interaction. Emotional intelligence is the beating heart of your organization, just as intellect is the brain that drives it. You need both to be strong in order to stay healthy.
Let’s talk about why empathy in your company, or lack thereof, is either growing your business or destroying it, as we speak.
It’s a widely regarded fact that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. Millions of books have been written about sales and sales psychology but what hasn’t often been said is that demonstrating empathy to a potential customer builds trust. And trust closes deals.
You’ve had bad experiences in the sales process at some point in your life. Maybe it was retail, or work on your property, or your car, or an online transaction. How did you feel in that moment? Furious? Disappointed? Worried? Overwhelmed? Ignored? Anxious?
We work in an industry that unfortunately is full of property owners disillusioned by our trade. They’ve had roofers take off with their money, perform subpar work, or just not even show up. Time to show some empathy.
Lead with questions: “Mr. Property Owner, what’s the biggest concern you have about getting this project done?”
Listen with curiosity: It might take some prompting, but most property owners will be happy to share bad experiences, poor communication, inflated budgets, dishonest quotes, etc. Be curious – “what happened? What did you do? How did you respond? What would have made this better for you?”
Relate with feeling: And here’s the part that can’t be faked. Anyone can ask questions, or even be curious. But if you fake relating to someone’s feelings, they will spot it a mile away. They will label you as just another sales rep who is disingenuous, untrustworthy, and will say anything to make a sale.
I cannot emphasize this enough: in order to truly empathize, you HAVE to identify and understand what your customer is feeling. This isn’t about you, it’s about them. It’s a moment in their shoes.
“I’m really sorry that happened to you, Mr. Property Owner. It sounds like that really made you angry and even caused some problems with your CEO. I’ve had something similar happen to me and I never want someone else to go through something like that. How can we help you feel more comfortable that we’re the right contractor for you?”
Is lack of empathy costing your business thousands or even millions of dollars a year?
Lead with questions. Listen with curiosity. Relate with feeling.
Empathy can also make or break your internal team. It’s likely that you’ve had some bad work experiences in your past – negative interactions with managers, colleagues, or direct reports that gave you a huge amount of stress, anger, frustration, and maybe some sleepless nights.
That memory that just popped in your head? It likely could have been avoided entirely with a small dose of empathy. On both sides.
Lead with questions: “Hey Bob, you were really late for the team meeting this week. What’s going on?”
Here’s the thing about empathy – it doesn’t thrive in environments where strong assumptions are being held. If you’re not assuming the best about Bob, it’s going to be really hard to get to a place of empathy when you think he’s a lazy bum with terrible time management.
Listen with curiosity: And here’s where curiosity matters once again. Bob mumbles, “yeah, sorry about that.” You reply, “It’s really important to the team that we respect everyone’s time. And it’s also important to me that I’m helping you with any problems you’re having. Is everything ok?” Bob then tells you about a huge family emergency that had him at the hospital the night before.
Relate with feeling: Empathy does not mean sacrificing accountability. It’s realizing that they can, and should, both co-exist. “Man, Bob, I’m really sorry about your daughter. You must be exhausted and worried about her. I want to talk about how we can help you and support your family right now, and I also want to let you know that we always need to know if you’re not going to meet a work commitment. I’m a text, email, or phone call away – and next time I need you to make sure that happens.”
Here’s the great news – empathy, like any other business skill, can grow and evolve and be strengthened over time. You can learn to communicate better, sell more, run projects better, and also to practice empathy more in your relationships (which will in turn strengthen every other area.)
Externally, you will close more deals with customers who feel they can trust you. You listen to them, are curious about their pain points, and identify with past experiences with an eye to problem solve and over-communicate. Happy customers means more referrals, building your sales pipeline organically without adding to your marketing budget. Happy customers also mean more reviews, which solidify your presence online and are arguably the biggest trust factor businesses have.
Internally, your team will feel more comfortable discussing hard things, bringing you suggestions, problems, and even critiques. They will know that when you’re in a conversation, you have the ability to truly hear and understand what they’re saying even if you have a different perspective. Empathy makes people feel valued. This will help your retention, save you recruiting costs, and keep the people who are truly impacting your business in positive ways as part of your team.
Lead with questions. Listen with curiosity. Relate with feeling.
Written By: Rae Boyce, Director of Operations, Integrity Pro Roofing
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Castagra is a roof coating manufacturer dedicated to providing sustainable and high-performance coating solutions. Learn more about our products here, or contact our team today to learn more about what we do and how we can help you!