The International Code Council (ICC), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and ASHRAE all have set standards for roof ventilation. Why? Simply, because there is a consensus that proper attic ventilation provides year-round benefits for all types of roofing systems. In other words, a healthy home needs a healthy roof. And a healthy roof needs an attic that can breathe. Fortunately, the use of high-efficiency ventilation systems can help achieve this, create cooler attics in the summer, drier attics in the winter, protect roofs against damage to materials and structure, prevent ice damming, and even reduce overall energy consumption.
The above information looks and sounds great. However, if you are a roofing professional, you more than likely already know the standards and benefits of a properly ventilated attic. If you do not, let us be the first to say this: You need to get up to speed—for the sake of your existing roofing customers and your overall roofing business. With that being said, we would be wasting your time, if we sat here and re-wrote the book on attic ventilation standards and benefits. Mostly because the information is so widely available on the web. If you are looking for a crash course, EnergyStar provides a nice introduction on the importance of attic ventilation on their website, here: About Attic Ventilation.
For this post, we would rather focus on some things that might not be so obvious. In particular, we would like to focus on some findings that were shared in Roofing Contractor’s “State of the Industry Survey” and “Shaping the Future of Your Business”, a letter written by Robert Tafaro, President and CEO at GAF. Our goal in sharing and analyzing this information is to help roofing professionals rethink attic ventilation, attract more customers, and ultimately increase their overall sales.
Ventilation Products Make Up Less Than 1% of Residential Roofing Product Sales
When yellowblue first started developing partnerships with roofing companies, contractors and industry professionals, we wanted to first gauge what type of demand there was for ventilation systems from the industry. Being a manufacturer, distributor, and installer of high-efficiency solar attic fans we asked roofers: Do you sell and install attic fans? The feedback we received was somewhat unbalanced. We found many roofing professionals excited and willing to talk to us about our solar attic fans. They were almost always anxious to learn more. Many asked for brochures and other forms of literature on our solar attic fans. However, we also received responses like: “I am familiar with fans…I have had a couple customers in the past that asked me to install them…If they ask for one, I just buy whatever is at Lowes or Home Depot…” We even received more closed responses like: “No. I don’t want to be bothered with the extra work.”
These types of lukewarm responses led us to dig around a little more. What was the product makeup for the residential roofing industry? And where did ventilation products fit in exactly? As luck would have it, we didn’t have to look very far thanks to Roofing Contractor, BNP Media Research and GAF. Below is a snapshot of total sales by product type in 2014 for the residential roofing industry:
The first thing that really jumped off the charts for us was that solar only made up 1% of total product sales. SEIA predicts that roughly 20,000 MW of solar capacity is forecasted to come online over the next two years, doubling the country’s existing solar capacity. The recent congressional action and extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) over the next five years is huge for the industry, and roofing companies and contractors would be wise to consider adding renewable products.
We could spend all day looking at the survey data from Roofing Contractor’s survey, analyzing each product type included on the chart. But we think what’s more striking is what’s not on the chart: ventilation products. If attic ventilation is so widely accepted and regulated, how come ventilation products, including attic fans, don’t make the list of top products sold? Does something so essential to the health of a roof really deserve to be lumped into the category of “other”? In reality, we understand that there are many outside factors that influence these percentages. Obviously, there are more shingles on a roof than fans. New construction and housing markets likely play a role in the total product sales makeup as well. But as complex as the makeup is, we do have one simple idea that we keep coming back to:
We are looking at ventilation products the wrong way. Instead of being thought of as a recommendation, attic ventilation should be seen as a significant earnings opportunity.
It appears that ventilating an attic properly might be a classic example of the “chore complex”. Here’s an analogy to break it down: We know we have to exercise to maintain our appearance and improve our overall health. Exercise is essentially a requirement (unless you have ridiculously good genes). When we don’t exercise we run the risk of adverse effects. Literally, our bodies can begin to break down over time. Someone who is forced to exercise may work out once or twice, just to make whoever is telling them do it happy. But once the outside influence clears out, it’s pretty likely that they’ll revert back to not exercising overtime. Why? Because people don’t like being told what to do. Attic ventilation is like exercise. We know we have to do it and we’re told by outsiders to do it. But are we doing it consistently and properly, where we can see the results?
Consistently add attic ventilation products (exercise) into your sales pitch. After all, it’s what your customer needs and wants.
So, why do we ultimately end up exercising? Well, because the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of not exercising. We exercise to look good and feel good and this inner sense of pride and work ethic speaks outwardly.
Your roofing customers respond to this outward influence. In fact, they want you to go above and beyond. Robert Tafaro, CEO and PResident, GAF, wrote: “In residential roofing, upselling and a focus on quality become even more important when demand is less than anticipated.” In addition, “repeated consumer studies have shown that homeowners show a preference for contractors who take the time to expose them to more than just the standard fare in shingles. As a result, more and more contractors are reviewing and reengineering their in-home selling process and placing more emphasis on influencing all decision makers.” (Roofing Contractor, Shaping the Future of Your Business)
Here’s what it comes down to. You might know the importance of attic ventilation, but not all of your customers do. Educating your customers on the importance of attic ventilation will solidify you and your company as a valued source. Instead of waiting for the customer to tell you what to do, ask them what they know, and show them what they need to be doing to properly ventilate their attic. Not only will this give you added credibility, but it will differentiate you from your competition. Just like exercise, implement a program for attic ventilation products and consistently implement it. Overtime, it will become less of a chore, and more of a habit. You, your customers, and your bottom line will see the results.
Ready to Rethink Attic Ventilation and Grow Your Roofing Business?
Let’s help attic ventilation products climb the charts. By utilizing Yellowblue’s proven upsell system and high-efficiency Roof Mount Solar Fans, we can teach you how to add $500-$1500 OR MORE per roof job, PLUS:
- Provide better roof systems and extend roof life
- Improve overall home performance
- Lower your customer’s energy bills
- Solve ventilation issues
To date, our roofer and distribution partners have completed approximately 20,000 solar fan installations throughout North America. That number is growing every day. Working with roofing companies and contractors is a HUGE part of that growth. We are moving fast and on-boarding new partners at a pace to meet our goals for 2016. We are only making this opportunity available to a limited amount of roofing companies and contractors. The reason we are doing this is because we don’t want to create competition within our partner network. If you’re interested in distributing our Roof Mount Solar Fans, please sign up here.