A Roofing Company Refused My Potential Business

This whole business of the new roof is getting tiresome already, and we’re still very far away from getting anything done.

Heck, I can’t even get some companies to come out and give me a quote.  I’ve never had an experience like this.

I called JKM Roofing (of Michigan) that was referred to us by a neighbor who had their roof done last year, and it turns out my parents had used them a few years back as well.

I talked to the guy that answered, who was the owner, and explained that we were in the market for a new roof.  He asked some pretty specific questions about what we were looking for, and I answered the best I could.  He spent some time answering some questions I have about ridge vents, which is something I’m considering.

Apparently, unbeknownst to me, the quiz portion of the conversation was about to start, and I decidedly failed that.

He asked;

  1. What roofing material we were looking to get, including how much ice guard we wanted.  I said that I was just getting information about things that went into making these decisions, and I would look to him for recommendations and discussion.
  2. He asked when we wanted the roof done.  I said sometime during the upcoming spring or summer.  At the time, it was mid-February, around 20 degrees, and there was a good pile of snow everywhere.  While I’ve actually seen a couple of new roofs go on in our subdivision over the last few weeks, I have no interest at all in a new roof until the weather turns.
  3. He asked how many quotes I was planning on getting.  I told him likely between 3-5.

At that point, the guy blew my mind and told me flat out that he didn’t see an opportunity to work with me and advised that I look elsewhere.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and asked him what he was talking about.

He said that he found that he didn’t want to work with customers who didn’t know the specifications of the roof I was looking for, who don’t know the time that they want it done, and that if a customer goves with over three quotes, he doesn’t want to work with them.

So from what I’m hearing, I’m supposed to be an expert on roofs before I talk to him, rather than relying on the expertise that I would expect he is supposed to bring to the table.  I’m also supposed to have given an exact date of when I wanted my roof done, even though we were in the throes of winter.  Furthermore, according to him, trying to get more than three quotes and, oh I don’t know, be an informed customer, is a bad idea.

Now, I get the fact that these guys are out there giving free estimates, and that there are likely costs involved.  They have to come out, take a look around, measure, estimate, spend the time putting together costs, and all that, but to me, that’s part of the job of owning a freaking roofing company!  If you can’t handle the sales portion of it, then I don’t care how great of a roof you install, you still pretty much suck as a company.

We’re nowhere close to getting a new roof, and I already want it to be done with!

35 thoughts on “A Roofing Company Refused My Potential Business”

  1. I went through this ordeal 2 years ago. I would make appointments with roofers and they would fail to show up.

    The first quote I was able to secure was from a roofer I dragged to my house when he was working on a roof on my street. He wrote lots of numbers on a clip board then proceded to punch all the numbers into a calculator that was smaller than his thumg. He wrote some more on the clip board then showed me the quote.

    It was a break down of all the costs and the total was $5,666. He held his pen at the total and drew a line under the 3 6s in the total. “That is the devil’s number” he whispered to me. I did not select him as my roofer.

    • That’s too funny. Good choice on not using him. Maybe he could have just quoted $5,665 and everything would have worked out great.

  2. Well, that company is ballsy. I would have some choice words for that guy. Maybe he has dealt with enough people that he knows how it will turn out. Maybe he charges way too much, so when he hears you are looking around, he knows he will lose.

  3. Ummm…wow.

    I can’t believe that a ROOFING company would turn down any business. All the roofing companies in our area are always beating down doors to get business. God forbid you want to get a few quotes. Sheesh.

  4. **shakes head in shame** and they wonder why this country is loosing jobs…

    I good business answers your questions, offers you friendly expert advice, and tries to win your business…

    Not what they were trying to offer you… Hope they loose some business on that one.

  5. Been in business my whole life and more specifically in RE over 30. IMHO….here’s what happened….everything went well until you disclosed you would be getting 3-5 bids. With gas going for $4 a gallon and material going thru the roof this guy is looking for customers not shoppers, What he wants to avoid is coming out and working up a serious estimate that he will stand behind and you “shopping it” . When it comes to a major repair like roofing that has a life of over 20 years one should worry more about the quality of work and the compaies willingness to address problems versus pricing. Good way to approach this….find out what is “per square price”, that’s how much per 100 square feet ….warranty of the material….how he would approach the job (he’s the professional). Lastly…get him on sight…that way he can see how the job will unfold…easy access?…steep pitch?….and your flexability in scheduling. Remember roofing is tough back breaking work which needs to be done correctly….especially in Michigan…Hope this helps!

    • What you say makes sense but at some point the shoppers have to turn into customers especially when the roof in question is deteriorating at the clip that ours is. My point is that his approach may weed out some of the people that will not end up using him anyways, but he could also be shutting the door on potential customers. I think that because I came in off of a referral, he was mistaken in classifying me as just an ordinary guy flipping through the Yellow Pages (does anybody actually do that anymore?). I had someone that he worked with in the past (two someones as it turns out) AND i knew the price that they paid. I had told him both of those things up front, so he should have weighed that in and determined that I was ‘worth’ talking to in spite of his criteria. Whatever, now I just laugh about it.

  6. Horrible! My father owns a hardwood flooring / construction business and will always come to the house to make a bid. He explains everything, goes over every detail, and shows his love of the job and is always excited. The only time he turns down a job is when the customer is horrible with all kinds of crazy expectations that would make it a job from hell.

    If the company didn’t want to take the time for you, be glad you didn’t take them, because I wouldn’t doubt they would want you to serve them breakfast and be OK with an open roof for 6 months while it rained. OK, exaggerating, but still they sound unruly and not worth your time.

    • Exactly. As crazy as it was to hear that, he did save me the time as he isn’t likely someone I’d want to work with anyways.

  7. Wow, well at least they helped you rule one company out! JEEZ. He’s probably right, you can’t work well together.

  8. The guy probably has a ton of work and is getting arrogant. I’ve had contractors pull the same thing with me. Some of them just have a very short view. If they are booked for the next 2 months, who cares about thinking beyond that? I’d bet that if you called him in the Fall, he’d be more cooperative.

  9. Wow, that doesn’t seem like a good way to run a business.

    We put a new roof on our house last year. I think we got about 6 quotes and didn’t have any problems like this. (some were certainly more thorough in their quoting process, however) At least he made your decision easy for you, I just can’t imagine being successful in a business like that if you’re turning away customers for not knowing enough or actually doing their due diligence.

  10. The owner was qualifying you! Apparently, this particular roofer has been burnt over the years educating buyers and the perspective buyer going with a cheaper bid. Estimates are free, but he doesn’t want to waste his time. I went through something similar when I tried to find a real estate broker when I bought my first investment property. I needed more than an experienced buyer, but very few were willing to invest the time. I called a lot of brokers and I started to learn from my conversation. By the time, I found my broker I knew a lot more. I think you may have to do the same. In my case I was investing much more than the cost of roof replacement.

    • Yes, he basically said that he vets his customers just as customers do with him against other companies. I guess I was just surprised that I didn’t pass his ‘test’ given that I came in from a qualified referral.

  11. That’s crazy! Business must be so good for that roofer that informed consumers aren’t worth the time and effort. Heck, if I was an unscrupulous roofer, I’d only go after potential clients that don’t know what’s up so I could charge them double… Who knows?

  12. It’s almost springtime, so I’m sure there are some Home Shows coming up near you. These are good places to arrange for estimate appointments because you’re seeing the people face to face, who are “competing” to get your business, you can ask some serious questions and get a little educated (and see samples), and arrange several estimate appointments.

    Our Home Show in Lansing is in a couple weekends (14th – 17th), and we’re planning on going. We need new insulation in our attic and plan on arranging estimate appointments while there. We already received one quote earlier in the year, but just wanted to get more quotes to decide. But at least we know a little bit about what to expect now, including the different types of insulation. On a side note, we always go as a family to these things cuz Wes loves to look at all the booths – and there’s some good freebies to be had, and sweeps/contest entries too. 🙂

    – lists all the upcoming shows in SE Michigan!!

    Good luck!

    • For now, I’m sticking with referrals. The first quote I got was on a whim with someone doing door to door. I had another quote off of a referral just the other day, and have another one next week. There’s a third company I may bring in from a neighbor’s referral. That would give me three (plus the walk-up) which would be a pretty good start.

  13. Ohhhh boy, there’s a winner.

    By disqualifying you because you said you intended to get several bids, the guy effectively told you that he intended to overcharge. I can understand jestjack’s point that the guy would be reluctant to spend the gasoline to traipse to your place knowing he had a one in three or one in five chance of getting the job. But you know, it wouldn’t cost anything to say “for premium quality shingles, the cost would be about $XXXX, unless we have to replace plywood, which could drive up the price significantly. For mid-level shingles you should expect to pay about $YYYY, and for cheap stuff, around $ZZZZ. Building in ventilation on a house the size of yours could cost from $AAA to $BBBB. I can explain the difference in roofing materials and venting systems if you’d like to drop by my shop to see the products we use.”

    Good riddance to bad rubbish, I’d say.

  14. Haha, I love this post. I have had several similar situations with plumbers, electricians, etc. I just don’t understand how places that try so hard not to get your business stay open!

  15. When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast Trees fell on power lines and roofs galore. First, we saw utility trucks pour in from all over the country to get the power lines back up – many drove in from Michigan. Then we saw the tree surgeons, along with the insurance adjusters.

    Now that the claim checks are trickling in and weather is improving, the roofing business is kicking into high gear. Perhaps Michigan roofers are following in the footsteps of the utility guys and going where the business is booming – leaving those that remain to work only with those ready to buy.

    I had a similar experience with a basement water proofing company. I called a competitor in the middle of a drought, got a low ball quote, and they started within days.

    • Interesting. So far most of the reputable companies (or I guess ones that have been in business for 15+ years) are all still around, but you have to wonder if their crews have all stuck in the area or have left for more opportunity.

  16. I used a great guy out of Clarkston this summer. Email me if you’d like me to set you up with him. I find the only way to go with roofs especially is only through referral. Most of these people are self employed because they can’t get a good job….because they’re incompetent.

  17. I’m honestly a little stunned – I don’t know what to say! That’s the sign of a poorly-run business, that’s for sure. It sounds like he’s not confident enough in the services he provides to take on your business. Good riddance!

  18. Perhaps there was soe little misunderstanding involved but the roofing company was still at fault because they should be nice to customers. They surely don’t want to lose a potential customer just because he doesn’t know the details about roof repairs.

  19. I think that his decision was completely reasonable. I respect a guy who knows what kind of customers he wants to work with and is willing to stick to his target demographic. In the long run it is better for his business and probably reduces a lot of stress and frustration both for him and for the clients that he doesn’t work with since they are probably looking for a level of consultation and flexibility that he is probably not willing to engage in.

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