Starting a Roofing Company in a Small Market, With Curt Visser of Property Revolution

Curt Visser founded Property Revolution to provide the impeccable, time-conscientious contracting service that was missing from his local community. Curt grew up in Michigan working in his family’s dairy farming business. He often credits the rough hours and more-than-occasional equipment struggles with sharpening his problem solving and stress management skills. 

Starting a roofing company was never Curt’s long-term plan. The business that would eventually become Property Revolution actually spawned out his experience as a property developer. As he purchased and cultivated new properties, Curt often struggled with finding dependable contractors who could meet their due dates and bids. He decided to found his own contracting company in 2017, only to be set back by a horrific personal injury on his family’s dairy farm. A scary encounter with an angry bull left Curt with severe spine and abdominal injuries, forcing him to work from a chair for almost the entire year. 

Even as he recovered from these injuries, Curt took the plunge into independent contracting and launched his full-service company.

Excellence in Specialization

While his business began as a one-stop-shop for meeting the needs of real estate developers, it quickly became clear that over-extension would severely hamper Curt’s team. 

“One of our company values is efficiency. We found that unless we were just going to be general contractors and be general everything and sub it all out, it was really hard to be efficient doing that because you would have a team of guys or a crew leader who was really skilled at one thing. You’re asking him to do what he’s good at and things he’s not quite as good at. We would always get it done and make sure the quality was there, but we’d find that we just spent too much time doing things that weren’t in our ideal route.” 

Even though the company produced excellent results (and happy clients), Curt realized that offering so many services was costing his team valuable time and revenue opportunities. That’s why he ultimately decided to scale back his solutions. 

“Over time, we found that home exteriors is what worked best for us, so we just kept eliminating services until we got down to what we offer currently.” Ever since he made the switch in 2020, Curt has noticed a profound impact in his company’s growth and efficiency

Overcoming Seasonal Slowdowns

As with many northern states, Michigan experiences seasonal cold periods that bring most roofing projects to a close. This would be bad news for most roofing contractors, but Property Revolution seizes the opportunity to provide other critical exterior services like siding repair. In fact, Curt maintains specialized teams for roofing, siding, deck building, and fence installation. 

Not only do the extra solutions – still under the exterior service umbrella – offer continued activity during the cold season, but they also allow his team to capitalize on relationships built from his roofing client portfolio. When Curt isn’t busy managing the exteriors business, Curt takes time to further cultivate his rental properties throughout the area. 

Where other contractors regularly drop off the map due to over-expansion, Property Revolution’s moderate 35 mile service radius also allows them to maintain their “local contractor” status in Google Search. Curt has found that a small cluster of exterior services makes this modest service area much more sustainable for long-term profitability. 

Key Lessons for Starting a Roofing Company

#1: Build Your Company on Outstanding Company Hires. 

Like many of our podcast guests, Curt takes time every month to consult with industry experts and mentors. Starting a roofing company is a big task, after all, so he takes every bit of advice you can get. One lesson he’s learned: There’s no investment that quite impacts your company growth like quality hiring. Curt maintains multiple specialized teams for roofing, siding, decks, and fencing. None of these divisions would be profitable without the exceptional management talent that keeps them focused, on-time, and motivated. 

“The most critical thing you can ever do is make good hires.” 

Once you find dependable managers and crews however, it’s crucial that your company works to equip and motivate them towards personal growth. Every employee at Property Revolution is encouraged to plot their own growth path and seek opportunities for promotion. While some employees may leave to continue their careers in other businesses, this dedication to personal growth ultimately results in longer average retention and greater company productivity. 

This employee empowerment allows Curt to spend his time where he’s needed most. 

“Don’t be afraid to let go of the reins where you can. As business owners, it can be difficult to micro-manage and try to be in everything all the time, but good people will step up if you give them the opportunity to.”

#2: Take Control of Your Inventory for More Efficient Project Fulfillment.

So many roofers and exterior service providers struggle with unnecessary project woes brought on by inventory mistakes. Whether it’s damaged siding materials or late metal paneling, contractors have to deal with a lot of problems caused by their suppliers. 

Curt’s solution has been to maintain a local storage facility to store materials and build in extra process control. His team purchases materials immediately after each client signs their contract, then has them shipped to their warehouse for sorting. Not only does this prevent material pricing shifts (which would impact the reliability of their quotes), but it allows Curt’s team to spot any manufacturer defects or supply damages weeks ahead of each construction project. 

While one might expect these additional quality assurances to cost extra man hours, Curt’s team actually saves time and money by eliminating job delays and re-ordering setbacks. This strategy may be challenging to implement in more populated areas with high property costs. If you’re planning on starting a roofing company in a small city or moderately sized-area however, consider an investment in your own material storage space!

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