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How to Start a Roofing Company With No Experience (or Money)

March 16, 2023 12 min. read
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Starting a roofing company can be profitable and rewarding—especially if you want to be your own boss, set your own schedule, and don’t mind heights or hard work. 

Getting started might feel intimidating, especially if you haven’t worked as a roofer before, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll show you how to start your own roofing company with no experience or money.

1. Write a roofing business plan

Planning for your first year of business and beyond will set you up for success. In fact, if you need a business loan to get started, your lender may need to see a business plan before approving the loan.

Your roofing business plan should include:

  • Cover page and table of contents to help the reader move through the document
  • Executive summary to give the reader a quick summary of your roofing company planning, including the funding you need and your competitive advantage
  • Business overview introducing your new business and explaining what you’ll provide, why, and for which customers (e.g., residential roofing, commercial roofing)
  • Services list showing which roofing services you’ll provide to customers (e.g., roof inspection, roof replacement), as well as any seasonal services that’ll keep you earning income during the off-season
  • Pricing strategy, including prices for your roofing installation and roof repair services
  • Market analysis showing what the income potential is for a roofer in your service area
  • Competitive analysis outlining competing roofing companies in your neighborhood and what makes you stand out
  • Marketing plan explaining how you’ll reach ideal customers, including tactics and costs
  • Employee planning showing what each employee will be responsible for and when you’ll hire new roofers
  • Financial plans, including startup costs, operating costs, and expected revenue

READ MORE: How to create a small business budget (with free template)

2. Learn the trade and get your roofing license

Before you climb up on your first house as a roofing business owner, you’ll need on-the-job experience—and possibly a roofing contractor’s license. Here’s how to get started.

Roofing experience

Starting a roofing company with no experience? Learn to do the job through a training program or apprenticeship through your local trades school.

You can also work for a local roofing business owner to get the experience you need. They’ll show you firsthand how to run a successful roofing business, including scheduling jobs, ordering materials, and working with clients.

READ MORE: 11 roofing apps every roofing contractor needs

Roofing contractor’s license

You may or may not need a roofing contractor’s license to run a roofing business, depending on where you live, the types of projects you plan to take on, and how much you’ll charge.

For example, the U.S. doesn’t have national licensing requirements to become a roofer. Some states require you to have a roofing or general contractor’s license, while other states don’t require a license at all.

Your license will only be valid in the state where you got it. If you plan to expand into new markets in different states, you’ll need a different roofing contractor’s license for each location.

Check your state government’s website to see what the licensing requirements are in your area.

3. Brand your roofing company

You need a recognizable roofing service business brand to stand out from competitors, attract customers, and build up trust within your community. Here’s how to start creating one:

  • Pick a name. Come up with a roofing business name that is catchy, is memorable, and says something important about your business.
  • Choose colors. Pick a set of colors that will make your customers think or feel a certain way about your business. For example, yellow suggests happiness and creativity, while green suggests nature and growth.
  • Design a logo. Hire a designer to create a logo for your roofing company, or design one yourself using an online logo builder like Looka. Your business’s logo could look something like this:
Roofing company names with logo design

You can apply all of these brand elements to your uniform, vehicle, and marketing materials.

READ MORE: How to name a business and protect your brand

4. Register your roofing company

To run your business legally, you’ll need to register it with the proper authorities. This can vary depending on regulations in your city, state, and country.

Learn about your area’s business structures and registration process by googling “AREA + business registration.” Check with your local government’s business registration division, too.

Register the business

Register your roofing company by heading down to your local registry. Here’s what the process involves in different countries:

Choose a business structure

You’ll need to choose a business structure as part of the registration process. This affects how much you’ll pay in annual income tax and may allow for more small business tax deductions.

Your business entity options include:

  • Operating solo as a sole proprietor (U.S., CA) or sole trader (UK, AU). Sole proprietorship is a common business entity choice for entrepreneurs working alone.
  • Partnering with another person to share leadership responsibilities. This is called a partnership (U.S., CA, UK), or a joint venture or co-operative (AU).
  • Incorporating as a limited liability company or LLC (U.S.), corporation (CA), limited company or limited partnership (UK), or company (AU) to reduce risk and protect your personal assets.

READ MORE: Why and when should I incorporate my business?

Apply for a business license

You’ll likely need a business license to legally run a business in your area. Be prepared to go through the application process and pay the licensing fee before you start working on your first roof.

There are different types of licenses available, depending on your services and where your business operates. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce or the Small Business Administration (SBA) to see what type of license you need.

Get your EIN

You’ll need an employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service if you have a partner or plan to hire employees in the United States. Apply for one early on so you can accurately file taxes.

This number is also called a business number (CA), company registration number (U.K.), or Australian business number (AU).

5. Price your roofing services

Figure out how much you’ll charge for your roofing services to stay profitable. Here’s how to price and bid a roofing job:

  1. Understand the scope of work by meeting with the client to discuss budget and expectations. You’ll also need to look up building codes and survey the roof.
  2. Measure the roof to determine how much material you’ll need, based on the home’s square footage and roof pitch.
  3. Estimate material costs based on your roof measurements and the price per square foot of shingles, tiling, or metal roofing materials. Factor in nails, flashing, underlay, and vents, too.
  4. Estimate labor costs by adding up labor hours and multiplying that number by your hourly wage as a roofer.
  5. Calculate overhead costs per week, then break that down into hourly overhead costs. Multiply your hourly overhead by the number of labor hours the project will need.
  6. Add up your costs for materials, labor, and overhead. You can do this using our free service price calculator.
  7. Add markup by multiplying your project costs by your markup percentage. Use our free profit margin calculator to make sure your jobs will always be profitable.
  8. Create an estimate using our free roofing estimate template and send it to potential customers for approval. This is an easy way to impress clients and win more jobs.

6. Set up banking, accounting, and financing

Get your business banking, accounting, and financing all set up before you start accepting or making payments as a roofer. This will be a big help when tax season rolls around.

Open a business bank account

A small business bank account helps you look professional and keep your roofing business’s finances organized. Shop around to find a trusted bank with low fees and interest rates.

Think about getting a business credit card, too. This can help you improve cash flow and manage business expenses during slow months, and it builds up your business’s credit rating.

Get a bookkeeper or accountant

It’s a good idea to get a bookkeeper or accountant to help track your income and expenses, pay bills, create and send invoices, manage payroll, and maintain your business’s finances.

You may also want an accountant to help you monitor your roofing company’s big-picture financial health, make strategic recommendations, and help you file your taxes.

Get business financing

Once you have your banking and accounting in order, you’ll need financing to get your roofing company up and running. Here’s how to start a roofing company with no money, using funding from outside sources:

  • Get government funding through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Government of Canada, or other national government
  • Apply for a small business loan or line of credit from your local bank, or a friend or family member who wants to support your roofing business
  • Open a credit card to help with cash flow during the startup process
  • Apply for the Jobber Grants program, which offers $150,000 in available funding to recognize excellence in small home services businesses

READ MORE: 6 steps to take before you apply for a small business loan

7. Buy roofing contractor’s insurance

Roofing can be dangerous—you’re several stories in the air, working on top of someone’s home. Business insurance reduces the risk to yourself and your company in case of an incident.

Get a small business insurance policy that includes at least:

  • General liability insurance for property damage and personal harm
  • Commercial property insurance for damage to your office or equipment
  • Business income insurance to keep you up and running after an incident or disaster
  • Workers’ compensation insurance in case an employee is injured at work
  • Professional liability for claims and lawsuits over professional mistakes
  • Commercial auto insurance for company vehicles

You may also want added roofing insurance coverage for different situations, like employment practices liability, cyber liability, and crime insurance.

8. Get roofing equipment and secure suppliers

Plan to spend at least $1,000–3,600+ (USD) on roofing equipment when you’re starting out. The cost may be different if you plan to offer slate, tile, or other roofing services apart from asphalt shingles.

This amount might feel high, but you can spread it out over time with equipment financing on larger purchases. You can also buy used equipment instead of new to further cut down on costs.

Next, talk to local roofing suppliers to see what materials they offer and how much they charge. Pick the company that has what you need, like payment plans, product bundles, or special discounts.

9. Market your roofing business

Your business is legal and your truck is packed full of equipment—all you need is your first roofing contract. Try these marketing ideas to start getting roofing jobs:

  • Print business cards with your business name, logo, and contact information, then pass them out to people in the community.
  • Vehicle decals are easy to apply, make your work vehicle look more professional, and serve as a large mobile billboard for your services as you drive around town. If you have room in the budget, take your vehicle to the next level with a custom wrap.
  • Social media is a common place for roofing contractors to find new customers. Set up a Facebook business page, Twitter profile, or Instagram account to reach potential customers on the platforms where they spend time.
  • Create a website where a potential customer can learn about your roofing business, see photos of completed roofing jobs, and book a consultation online.
  • List your company on Google Business, Yelp for Business, Bing Places, Angi, Thumbtack, and other online directories and lead generation sites where homeowners look for roofing companies.
  • Network with other contractors in the home service and roofing industry. You can also reach new customers by attending and sponsoring events, joining your local business association, and promoting your roofing company wherever you can.
  • Send direct mail to homes in the areas where you want to work. This could include postcards, flyers, and door hangers. Just make sure you aren’t breaking any local rules around junk mail and soliciting.
  • Advertise online using digital marketing platforms like Google search, Local Services Ads, or Facebook ads. You can choose the audiences you advertise to and when, which makes your budget go further.
  • Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to market your roofing company. After you’ve landed a few jobs, start a customer referral program and ask happy customers to leave you an online review.

10. Create a sales strategy

When you’re just starting a roofing company, you may not have a dedicated salesperson to help sell your services to potential customers. That means you’ll have to do it yourself—and you’ll need a strategy to win new roofing work.

Start by reading books, taking courses, or working with a sales coach to learn how to close a sale. Take notes or record sales calls to see what approaches work best for you.

Then put together a book of sales that includes roofing material samples, photos of past work, and anything else that homeowners will want to see when choosing a new roof.

You may not have photos of past work when you’re starting out. That’s okay—focus on promoting your roofing process, material warranties, and service guarantee, and the work will come in due time.

READ MORE: Professional development resources for service entrepreneurs

11. Grow your roofing business

Roofing is a big job, and you’ll need a hand to work quickly and efficiently. Plan to hire roofers who have roofing or construction experience, have a good attitude, and can handle hard labor.

READ MORE: Roofer job description: how to write your own (with free template)

You can train your employees to work the way you prefer, all by learning on the job. Don’t forget to create a health and safety plan as you hire more roofers.

At some point, you may also want to hire an office manager or virtual assistant to help you schedule work, manage your marketing, and handle the admin side of the business.

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