For Joel Patzke, owner of TrueWorks Roofing, work life began at a very early age.
“When I was 11 or 12, I started my first company. My buddy and I printed out the stencils for address signs. We would go knocking door to door painting new address signs on people’s curbs. We had a whole pitch. Then we started doing mailboxes too. We’d do two for one; we started giving them deals and everything. We’d come home with sixty bucks in my pocket. We mowed lawns. Then a snow cone stand when I was 15.”
In his early career, Joel went into restaurant service, eventually becoming the general manager of several restaurants and bars in the Houston area. His team transformed customer care standards through out-of-the-box, proactive service. At the bars, crews learned to note visitor names and their drinks during their very first visit. By their second visit, greeters would be ready with visitor names and their favorite beverages, blowing minds and winning serious brand loyalty.
Over time, Joel found that these premium customer service skills and strategies translate very well into the roofing industry.
Above and Beyond Customer Service
“When we’re looking for employees now at TrueWorks, once I see that they’ve had server or bartender experience, they really go to the top of the list for me. Because they’ve had years of training that they don’t really know the value of yet. It’s just about relating to people, looking them in the eye, laughin at their dumb joke, being witty on the spot, all those kind of things…Everybody likes to be VIP, especially blue collar guys and gals.”
Working in roofing can be a very challenging occupation, especially with frantic homeowners worried about their property’s future.
“We always joke ‘Nobody ever wants to call a roofer.’ But they call us in their most stressed out state. We do get a lot of people that call; they are upset and a little hysterical. It is rewarding to be able to go in there and take that burden off of them, deliver that great quality job, then get to see them through to the other side smiling. As many people as we meet, we meet so many good ones too that are just great human beings that were in a stressed out state. They really appreciate what we do, the efforts that we go through to go above and beyond. It’s fun getting invited to barbecues. We make friends with these people. That is rewarding and really fun.”
Forging Relationships through Unusual Acts of Service
At TrueWorks Roofing, Joel founded a culture of creative customer care to consistently break the mold. Employees are encouraged to explore new and insightful ways of blessing their customers after each job.
“We call it our ‘Thoughtful Cherry on Top’. We just try to do fun creative things. It’s really about listening to the client, observing their needs. Maybe it’s a dog toy for their dog. We had a client say ‘There’s a lot of mosquitoes.’ We sprayed their yard. We’ve mowed the lawn. We’ve done a mobile car detail. We’ve painted a mailbox – going back to my old roots – putting an address on it.”
Inspiration might come from Joel’s past or particularly inventive professionals in other industries. Real estate agents are just one class of professional who are really good at paying attention and providing that over-the-top finish to their service. Those are the types of moments that really stand out in a customer’s mind. Home owners have so many options when it comes to roofing contractors, but it’s the little things that often rise to the top of the pack.
It’s not necessarily the monetary value either that captures a homeowner’s loyalty. It’s the thought behind the extra service or gift that really hits home. When that mentality is baked into the culture of a company in fun, practical ways, it’s amazing the level of innovation that naturally comes out of it.
Networking and Growth Opportunities
Constant innovation is a struggle! Even with all sorts of brain power packed into his staff, Joel can’t manage the task alone. Thankfully, there’s plenty of like-minded professionals out there pushing the service envelope and making new strides in customer care.
“When I first started, I would share a lot. I was real active on LinkedIn. Then you got on one podcast, then another. You started meeting people and started networking. Then you join a mastermind, and you meet different leaders. You go to their company and see how they do things. You let other people come to you. Again, it goes back to that… We’re on a mission to elevate the roofing industry. We’re all in this together. Everybody who shares that same mission, we are on a team. There’s plenty of work for all of us. The ones of us who are trying to do things the right way, we’re not gonna run out of work. We’re not gonna run out of roofs that need to be roofed.”
Exposure to other professionals and their programs has certainly helped Joel refine his own processes at TrueWorks Roofing, especially with employee training.
“People doing training well in roofing I find are typically cramming it all into 2 or 3 days. The ones who are doing it good are doing 2 to 3 days of classroom training like 9-5. They’re throwing 6 months of training at this person – deer in the headlights – who’s not gonna retain any of that.
We take a different approach. We basically have a 3 month training program. By the time they get out of that, they really are experts at roofing systems (residential, commercial, insurance, retail, etc.) and the way we do things. Your roof’s just so important; I don’t want somebody not being knowledgeable and being unable to educate the client out there representing our brand. We take training very seriously.”
It turns out that effectively teaching company culture takes time. That’s especially true for many hard labor professionals and salesmen, who often struggle unlearning the old ways of doing business.
“I think the roofing industry is 5-6 years behind other industries when it comes to marketing. When it comes to customer service, some technologies, some processes… things like that. Some of the other companies that I’ve been in have no CRM, and still use a vanilla folder and filing cabinet.”
Hop on the Roofer’s Paradise Podcast!
In an industry that’s so frequently behind the times though, a little extra customer care and marketing initiative really pays off. If you’ve been looking to break free of the weekly grind and start making headway towards growing your roofing business, then now is the time to get out of the old “I just do roofs” box.
To find more inspiration and updates on some of the hottest industry trends, be sure to subscribe to the Roofer’s Paradise podcast!
We’d love to hear your story too. Join the ever-growing tide of innovative business owners like Joel Patzke, who are making waves in the industry. Call our team today and hop on a podcast with Nolen!