Material Shortage

We know it is not news to tell you that our industry is facing a crisis with the inability to get needed materials in a reasonable amount of time. Today, we’re going to do a deep dive into this dilemma.

What is Causing the Material Shortage?

You are probably as tired of these words as we are, but the primary answer is Covid-19. The pandemic, regardless of how you may personally stand politically, caused a widespread shut-down of our economy. Unfortunately, that shut-down included not only the manufacture of the materials we utilize daily in our industry, but also the production and distribution of the raw materials necessary to manufacture them. This double-whammy is the root of our existing situation.

Another side-effect of the pandemic is the pent-up demand. During the 2020 shutdown, many businesses, as well as citizens, chose to let their roof situation wait, rather than address it immediately. No doubt your bottom line reflected that decision. Now, with things getting back to a more normal level, there is a huge pent-up demand for roofing services. Again, we doubt this is any surprise to you. However, when you couple increased demand with decreased supply availability, we are seeing unprecedented price increases and wait times industry-wide.

A secondary issue is the unusual level of storms in certain regions of the country. Whether your region is facing more rain than usual or stronger storm intensity, usual weather patterns have increased roofing service demand beyond the norm.

Another, less recognized issue, is labor. We are all familiar with the shortage of applicants (qualified or not) we are facing for our own industry. However, we are not alone. Labor shortages are rampant in many of the industries we rely on. Distribution, for example, has been hard hit by a lack of laborers, truck drivers, delivery personnel and so forth. All of the labor shortage compounds an already bad situation.

What To Do?

Well, unless you have the ability to manufacture your own materials, your company is stuck with having the manage

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    the situation. If there is a positive side, your competition is facing the exact same situation. However, there are steps you can take to mitigate some of the resulting problems.

    Management of Expectations. As Americans, we aren’t very good at waiting. Unfortunately, that is what we have to teach our customers to expect at this time. Clear communication of wait times, with an explanation that those are also subject to change, will at least keep your customer from feeling lied to or betrayed when that roof project takes longer than anticipated.

    Research. Perhaps you don’t care for the concept but doing some research into alternative options may help reduce the wait. At the very least, knowing the available options and providing more information to your customers shows you are on top of the situation and underscores your level of professionalism in their eyes.

    Plan Ahead. If you frequently use the same basic materials on jobs, such as specific fasteners or a preferred type of adhesive, order a little extra with each job and try to keep them on hand. We aren’t advocating hoarding but having a few extras could be the difference between finishing the job on-time or not.

    Cooperation. Working together with your “competition” may be key to saving you both. Try to develop a team mentality with some of your colleagues and, should either of you be in a situation where material help is needed, perhaps the opportunity to share resources will arise.

    This “team” mentality is what Choice Roof Contractor Group is all about. Sharing knowledge, experience, strengths and resources in an effort to improve our industry and provide building owners with noteworthy professionalism and quality.

    If that is the sort of organization you want your company involved with, or if you would like more information on joining us, please call 800-670-5583 or reach out to us on the contact page.

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    Written by: Diana Warwick
    Diana Warwick
    Diana Warwick grew up in a construction family. Over the decades, she has watched the industry change and evolve. Now, a recently retired RN, Diana is living her dream as a professional researcher and online author. Her strong research background, coupled with years of construction knowledge and innate curiosity, has led to her development as an integral part of a full-service marketing company that specializes in commercial roofing.