IN DEPTH: Roofing Systems

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Roofing products more often are being joined using a system approach to selling that provides better quality and protection while boosting dealers’ sales.


Homeowners are looking to update their roofs as the economy improves, hoping to pre-empt a concern and improve aesthetics. But today’s roofing projects require more than selecting a shingle color. An understanding of the entire roof system has led to more opportunities to sell the associated products— underlayment, sheathing, ventilation, flashing, etc. This concept can boost dealers’ sales while better serving customers.

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“‘System’ is a key word in the residential roofing business today,” says Jeff Avitabile, product manager for steep-slope accessory products at GAF. The concept has been in use for many years, mostly with certified contractors connected to manufacturers’ programs. “Now, more people are talking about a systems approach for contractors of any type.”

That’s good news for dealers, he notes. “It does offer the possibility for more revenue, since the contractor is using more products—in most cases, premium accessory products. But more importantly, the contractor can do a more comprehensive job that addresses the entire need, not just selling a product. It differentiates them.”

Explaining the value of the system is critical, adds Sue Burkett, marketing leader at Owens Corning. “Homeowners intuitively understand that the roof is a ‘system,’ so they’re not surprised to see us or contractors talking about it,” she says. “If not educated about a system, some can be wary that the contractor is just bolting on extra products that don’t add value. So we understand the importance of helping to educate the homeowner so the contractor can approach the system sale systematically and confidently.”

Other projects’ system approach is aiding this acceptance, says Brent Flotkoetter, product director for Huber Engineered Woods. “The roof is being looked at in the same way as a wall in terms of air sealing, insulation, wind protection and moisture interaction. It’s adding new products and new processes into the mix.”

Accessory manufacturers are seeing the impact of this approach, says Tara Murray, marketing manager for Benjamin Obdyke. “Homeowners are more involved with selecting our products, and that indicates they’re seeing the roofing project as a system project,” she says. “They’re considering longevity and accessories that should work with the shingles.”

It also creates challenges for accessory makers, she notes. “It makes it tougher for us to compete with the big companies that sell their entire system. We need to explain who we’re compatible with and how we work with their warranty. We have to up our game and be more customer-focused at the contractor level and provide resources and answers to their questions, so they’re confident using our products.”

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