It’s no secret that 2020 and 2021 were full of unexpected challenges. From continuing to navigate the pandemic to overcoming material delays and labor shortages, roofing contractors have faced a lot all while continuing to meet customer expectations.
AccuLynx Director of Operations, Lynn Foster, recently sat down with Roofing Contractor Magazine to discuss these challenges and the state of the roofing industry as we move into the New Year. Read a portion of the interview below:
How would you sum up AccuLynx’s 2021, from pandemic recovery to product development, etc..?
“For us, 2021 was really a continuation of 2020. We continued to face many of the challenges of 2020 throughout this year; our lives continued to be dominated by the coronavirus pandemic.
And for AccuLynx, that meant that we continued to find ways to support roofing contractors while they worked remotely, or in a limited contact capacity.
With that, we saw a large amount of adoption in AccuLynx features that support remote work. SmartDocs is one of those products, for example. With SmartDocs, contractors can deliver estimates, proposals, contracts, change orders, lien waivers, and even customer surveys digitally via email.
We also saw roofers looking for new ways to sell. Unemployment rates were still high at the start of 2021, meaning that money was tight for many homeowners. Features like AccuFi, take an expensive re-roofing project and allow roofing contractors to offer homeowners financing options that fit into their monthly budget. Similarly, we saw many contractors take advantage of AccuPay or online payment processing tools that allow homeowners to pay by credit card, debit card, and e-check.
Overall, in 2020, we saw more roofing contractors turn to technology, and this remained true throughout 2021. It’s really become a necessity as opposed to something that’s nice to have.”
How would you characterize the state of the roofing industry in 2022?
“In 2021, we saw a continued reliance on technology. I think this is something that’s here to stay through 2022 and beyond. With coronavirus, homeowners have gotten used to a certain way of doing business – digital signatures, credit card payments & financing, text reminders – are all things that customers have come to expect as a baseline for doing business.
I think that as we head into our third year of the pandemic, roofers – and people in general – are pushing for ‘normal’. We’ve seen this in the roofing industry with the resurgence of in-person events and companies returning to the office. As we move into the busy season of 2022, I think we’ll continue to aim to return to a pre-pandemic life.”
For roofing contractors, 2021 was dominated by supply shortages and volatile pricing. How was AccuLynx impacted by the global supply-chain crisis, and where/how did you find some stability?
“As a company, AccuLynx wasn’t impacted by the global supply chain crisis in the same way our customers have been. Instead, we fielded a lot of questions and concerns from our customer base and focused on supporting them with key integrations that allowed them to have the most up to date product lists.
So, for us, a big thing was our direct integrations with ABC Supply and SRS Distribution. We’re able to show our customers real-time pricing and availability at each of these retailers so that they can create accurate estimates. These integrations also allow our customers to directly place orders through AccuLynx eliminating the need to manually pick up the phone and place an order with their local branch.”
Were there any tangible ways AccuLynx was able to help roofing contractors navigate the crisis? (i.e.: through specific products, training, technology, logistical support)?
“Back in March 2020, we really jumped into action to help roofing contractors. None of us really knew what was to come, but we knew that our technology could support the needs of a remote, or limited-contact environment.
Moving into 2021, we continued to see roofing contractors turn to roofing technology, but we saw them further explore specific features that supported what homeowners wanted. We saw more roofing contractors turn to automations to save time and effort. We’ve all heard about the struggles of finding employees. Automations can’t create additional headcount, but they can help optimize the time you have.
Texting is another example of a product we saw roofers adopt. I’m sure we’ve all seen the uptick in marketing and general email that emerged with COVID. And because of that, there’s a good chance that important communication can get buried in a homeowners inbox. Texting within AccuLynx allows roofing contractors to find an alternative way to communicate with their customers.”
What do you think was learned and how will that impact the industry moving forward?
“I think one of the biggest things we’ve learned over the past two years is that we can conduct business remotely even in the contracting world – and that’s something we never thought was possible back in 2019. And while face to face interactions are ideal, not every customer interaction needs to be. We’ve actually even found that roofing contractors can create more time and drive efficiency by taking some of these interactions digital. Roofing contractors don’t need to drive all the way across town to collect a payment, they don’t need to be on a job site to know what’s happening with their crews, and they don’t need to be climbing on roofs to take measurements. Instead, roofing software like AccuLynx can help provide these insights and data points.”
Have you seen any progress in the workforce shortage in roofing, and what encourages/discourages you about the current approach?
“I wish that I could be more optimistic, but I can’t predict the future of these workforce shortages. Instead of looking into a crystal ball, I prefer to focus on the tools that we have in front of us right now. So, that includes things like our mobile Crew App, that gives roofers the ability to accept and reject jobs, see job details, update check lists, and check in and out of the job site.
With AccuLynx, roofing contractors can schedule their crews and easily update production calendars so that the crews that roofers do have are maximized.
We’re also able to eliminate the need for crews to come into the office with these digital tools, meaning they’re able to move from one job site to another without wasting valuable time on the clock.”
What are you proudest of AccuLynx as a company having come through the challenges of 2021?
“For me, I’m really proud of the fact that AccuLynx has created a phenomenal suite of products that allows contractors to grow and operate their businesses in a changing world. When I first joined AccuLynx 9 years ago, I never would have thought that we’d become so reliant on technology in the face of a global pandemic. We’ve created these easy-to-use tools that can help any roofing business get organized and find efficiencies leading to an increase in their own sales.”
What about the roofing industry has you worried? Optimistic?
“Looking ahead, I can say that I continue to worry about material and labor shortages. We’ve seen how these things affected our customers and the industry as a whole, and I am concerned that this will remain a trend in 2022. We’ve continued to see suppliers sending out notifications of price hikes. For example, CertainTeed noted a 7% increase recently. On the more positive side of things, I think we’ve learned to navigate living with Coronavirus. So, moving into 2022, I’m looking forward to returning to an environment that more closely resembles normal.
We’ve already seen in-person industry events pop back up. We just had IRE and Win the Storm in February of this year. So that definitely gives me hope.”