Contractor Marketing: Artificial Intelligence Finds Roofing

Effective Ways to Use AI to Help the Roofing Industry

by Heidi J. Ellsworth, owner, HJE Consulting

(Editor’s Note: Heidi J. Ellsworth, a graduate of the University of Portland, has been working in the roofing industry since 1993. Having held positions with EagleView® Technology Corporation, Carlisle® Construction Materials, Eco-Star™, and Malarkey Roofing Products®, Ellsworth is now the founder of the roofing-focused marketing firm, HJE Consulting Group. She is also the author of “Sales and Marketing for Roofing Contractors,” a guide for small businesses in the roofing industry.)

As we have talked about before, technology is here to stay. How we deal with it and utilize its power is the key to success in today’s world. Every day I look at what is happening and say to myself, “Don’t be left behind in a society that wants everything at their fingertips.”

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technology that is changing our world whether we like it or not. The genie is out of the bottle, and we all need to figure out how to control and use this tool and not let it control us. I was recently at the Roofing Contractors Association of Washington 2023 fall annual membership dinner and listened to a presentation from Travis Harvego of ROOFLE on AI and ecommerce.

Drones and AI can now detect damage without needing a person to perform a physical inspection on the roof. In a pre-covid society, in-home appointments are increasingly virtual. Although in person visits build relationships, virtual communication is growing in demand and desire. Owners are doing their research and then they want to have an easy and fast buying experience. ROOFLE saw this trend and jumped to make it happen.

Harvego explained, “In 2019 we went out and asked what the next greatest thing to come from the roofing industry would be. We decided that it is e-commerce. We then took that technology, put it into a website where the homeowner was allowed to come to our website and purchase their roof 100% online.” It is revolutionary but now is happening nationwide with over 600 subscribers using the ROOFLE technology on the homepage of their websites.

“Everyone should want to sell online. While it forces your company to be more transparent about pricing and improve your numbers or processes, it has great potential,” Harvego noted. “Transparency will build greater trust. From there, you’ll increase your lead opportunities, and you can target the younger generation. When you streamline your sales with e-commerce, you’ll have more time to focus on other aspects of your business, and you’ll be growing even bigger in no time.”

The ROOFLE example of using machine learning to make the buying experience fast and easy is just one of the ways that AI is becoming part of our everyday life. Another company that I have worked with is Rilla. This revolutionary technology allows roofing companies to record sales calls and analyze what is working and what is not working during the in-home or virtual sales call.

Rilla uses AI to analyze the sales transcripts to see what the customers want and if the salespeople are delivering. To some this may seem a little too close to invading consumer privacy, but it has shown that it actually delivers results that help the roofing company and their customers. The software analyzes speech for field sales, which helps sales management coach sales representatives while understanding customers. By analyzing the thousands of face-to-face conversations, Rilla can now take that data and extrapolate the best of the best presentations and then deliver not only analysis but advice.

According to Spencer Fennel of Garcia Roofing from the Rilla website, “I am a team lead and manage five sales representatives. Before Rilla, it was impossible for me to coach them properly while focusing on my own sales. Now, I can listen to them on the road, while I am driving. I’ve gotten to know my reps better, and understand their strengths and weaknesses. What I like about Rilla is I can skip to the part where I know they are struggling.”

Programs like Rilla are helping us improve business and listen to the customer. We often see AI as only a tool to create word documents but looking at ROOFLE and Rilla you can see that it is helping to analyze data to make our businesses, employees, and customers happier.

The last part of AI I want to share is very simple. I have started to use our Microsoft Teams for all of our meetings and have discovered the ability for their AI function to analyze transcripts and provide notes. These notes are not perfect, but I have found that it helps us share important customer communications with the rest of our team at RoofersCoffeeShop. This service is also available with Zoom, and you have probably seen other technologies like Fireflies AI offer these meeting notes. It is a simple use of AI that is helping us to communicate better.

As we look at the future of AI, as I said in the beginning, it is a tool. Too often with modern technologies like social media, we let it control us instead of controlling the technology. I would recommend getting together with your team and talking about technologies that utilize AI. The goal should be to make your business function better, increase communications and hopefully help with the ongoing labor shortage. AI did not write this article, but I am looking at it to use as a tool when needed.