Long time listeners of To The Point will know that we’re discovering more and more that no matter what industry you’re in, there is a right way to grow your business. There are a handful of key elements to growth that come up time and time again with successful companies, and it can’t be a coincidence. In fact, we know it isn’t!
Aaron Christy, Owner and President of Indy Roof Company is a perfect example that if you do the right things and grow your business the right way, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – you’ll succeed. He joins us live from RoofCon, the creation of former guest Hunter Ballew, to share with us what he did to grow a small business into a market leader.
If you would have asked Aaron 5 years ago if he could see himself being a general contractor, he would have called you crazy for even forwarding the notion. He was caught up in the corporate world of a family business, working as a recruiter for a nursing school. For well over a decade, he was traveling plenty, spending a month away, a month at home, rinse, repeat. With a wife and three daughters, Aaron looked towards a path that would reduce that time spent on the road.
So, Aaron decided to open a furniture store, recognizing the large margins on furniture sales. He’s a man willing and capable of selling anything, so why not couches and armoires? In the process of building out his furniture company, one of his friends was handed over the keys to a small roofing business. The owner had decided to move away and chase another career path, and left the business to Aaron’s friend, who owned a tile company. Naturally, his friend asked Aaron if he wanted to work on the roofing company together. As both of them loved selling things, they jumped right in.
Aaron and his friend studied and learned about roofing during the winter of 2017. What they found is that in the roofing industry, there are plenty of great people willing to share information. Through the help of others in the world of roofing and on their own, the two began to forge their path ahead.
As fortune would have it, the owner of the roofing company returned before long to take back control of running the company. Aaron sold a few more roofs, but unfortunately, things didn’t work out between them. So, Aaron went back to running his furniture business. He had developed some strategic relationship with realtors, however, and in July of 2018, he got a call that would change everything.
A realtor contact explained to Aaron that they need a roof done, and Aaron decided to help with the project. He put together a company and crew in short order, did the roof, and made about $4,000 for his efforts. Suddenly, he had another company, and found that he enjoyed roofing quite a bit more than furniture sales! He was able to be out and about instead of being stuck in an office all day.
Later that year, a huge hailstorm hit an upscale part of town. Aaron recognized that this was a golden opportunity to do some guerilla marketing. He began contacting realtors in the area, and let them know that if they had a roof that had been impacted by the storm, he could get things repaired so they wouldn’t have any issues during closing the sale. This turned out to be a highly successful lead generation strategy, and before long, Aaron was so busy with roofing that he closed down the furniture store and began roofing full time. Indy Roof Company was born in July 2018, and by September of the same year, Aaron was all-in on roofing.
For the first year in business, it was basically just Aaron. He was learning everything, going to all of the trade shows, and talking to everyone that he could. One of the big benefits of Aaron not coming directly from the roofing industry was that he knew he didn’t know anything. That, combined with an eagerness to learn the best way to do everything, was a huge competitive advantage.
In 2019, Aaron brough a few more people onto his team. Between himself and two part-time roofers, Indy Roof Company did 1.8 million. He was still studying, learning, and dedicating a ton of time into understanding the industry and the best way to approach growing the business. Aaron was implementing the best system possible, and once he had a system he knew was solid, he felt comfortable bringing on more people. The business was finally scalable.
At the beginning of 2020, Indy Roof Company started with 4 new sales reps. Aaron brought in a great manager as well, and set his sights on growing. He grew fast through storm season, reaching 8 million, and by the end of 2021, his company was at 9 million. Aaron and Indy Roof Company continue to recruit and grow, while focusing on improving their processes. In 2022, they are poised to exceed the 20 million-dollar mark.
One of the more fascinating aspects of Indy Roof Company is that you won’t really find any tenured roofers in their organization. Most of Aaron’s team, like himself, come from outside of the industry. So how do we explain this massive growth year after year? It turns out that, no matter the industry, there are some things that simply provide a solid foundation for success. Aaron has recognized and tapped into the same secrets that many of our previous guests have, and implemented a system and processes that have ensured a positive outcome for himself and the entire team.
Ah, yes. The name of the game. But what is the “right way” to approach lead generation? No matter what industry you’re in, it takes a comprehensive approach. You simply can’t afford to leave leads on the table, and that means considering all avenues. Aaron explains that in roofing, there are three main ways to get leads. First, there’s your social/digital efforts. That can include things like your Google Business Profile, your company’s Facebook page, and your other online presences. Then, there are relationships. That’s your word-of-mouth, referrals, and for Aaron, it is things like his relationship with a network of insurance agents and realtors. Finally, there is door-knocking.
Indy Roof Company is also strategic in when and where they target their lead generation efforts. Aaron makes sure they are first to market during the storm season, hitting his ads and geo-targeting as soon as the storm rolls in.
One of the key focuses Aaron has had is on how Indy Roof Company approaches their branding efforts. While building the company, Aaron has spent time trying to find the best methods, materials, and process for everything. He has invested in using Catch-All systems and Equipters for roofing projects, which help keep the job site clean. Not only will neighbors see the care and attention to detail while Aaron and his team are working on a house, but they’ll also see Indy Roof Company branding! Aaron has wrapped the Equipters and put his company branding on the Catch-All system.
According to Aaron, the single biggest breakthrough that has impacted his growth has been the decision to hire people. It’s a scary proposition as a small business owner. You’re not only committing financial resources, time, and effort into a person, but knowing that that person and their family will be depending on you. But, you just can’t do everything on your own. Getting some help doesn’t have to be expensive, either. To this day, Aaron still uses a virtual assistant just to help answer phone calls and perform some small tasks. This is only a $6/hour spend!
Once Aaron hired more people (and the right people!), he was able to do more, diversify, and focus more on growing the business and less on day-to-day operations.
You aren’t building businesses, you’re building people. Indy Roof Company puts a huge emphasis on training. From traveling to attend training events to renting a big cabin every year for a team training/teambuilder, Aaron stresses the importance of investing fully into your people. This doesn’t just go for new employees or leadership, either. Every industry is constantly evolving, and staying up-to-date as well as consistently improving is key to differentiating yourself from the competition and staying ahead of the curve.
In addition to aforementioned drivers of success that Aaron has honed in on, he’s doing plenty of other things to ensure Indy Roof Company continues on a sustainable trajectory. Documenting processes, strategic partnerships, and being a differentiator in his market are all additional elements that allow him to steer the ship in the right direction. Perhaps most importantly, however, is that Aaron understands that reputation stands above it all.
Your reputation is who you are. If you approach everything with integrity, with time it will become clear to your customers and potential customers that you do things the right way. It can be tempting to jump into something for a quick dollar, but you can’t risk your reputation for any dollar amount. An easy and FREE way that Aaron helped grow his reputation early on is by working hard on his Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). There will always be some customers who you can’t completely satisfy, so negative reviews will happen. In order to balance this, you have to be asking for reviews from those customers who you do earn that 100% satisfaction mark. People look at this profile, so having lots of great reviews, photos, and responses will go a long way.
Aaron may have only been in the roofing industry for 5 years, but he’s showing the signs of a storied veteran already. Through putting processes in place, finding the right people, managing reputation, and taking care of his team, he’s created a scalable business that is already proving that doing things the right way will always lead to great results.