Residential retrofit ’08: Central States Manufacturing

If selling a metal roof were easy, we would see metal roofs on every home in America. But while the percentage of metal roofs is narrowing the gap with conventional roofing materials, metal roofs still make up a small portion of the market. With every sales pitch there are obstacles to overcome. Whether it is price, aesthetics, improper perceptions or simply indifference, each of us must help the homeowner understand the value a metal roof can bring to their home.

Miller Metals of Lowell, Ark., has success in simply helping the customer understand the key advantages of metal as a roofing material.

Matt Miller founded Miller Metals in 2002 and quickly became a leading metal roof installer in the booming Northwest Arkansas region. Miller Metals stresses simplicity in its presentation. “People are smart. Usually they have researched options and they want someone to verify the information that they have,” Miller says. “They are looking for a person that has experience and speaks confidently. When I am selling the homeowner on a metal roof, I bring every topic back to two main selling points: product-life and energy savings.”

Because metal roofs can cost up to three times more than conventional roofs, Miller believes selling value is the key to getting the job. Today’s metal roofs can last from 30-40 years, with some manufacturers offering lifetime warranties on their products. “When you compare the lifespan of metal to the lifespan of shingles, metal always comes out being more valuable. But people do not always connect the dots,” says Miller. “My job is to help them see that buying a metal roof is like buying 2-3 asphalt shingle roofs. But I can do it all at once, without them having to constantly worry about their roof every 10-12 years.”

Most of Miller’s residential re-roofing projects call for the Horizon Loc 16-inch concealed fastener panel from Central States Manufacturing. Customers are sold on the combination of durability and beauty of the panels.

One point to always bring up when talking about the lifespan of metal is the “storm-resistance” of a metal roof. This is the reason many insurance companies offer discounts to homes with metal roofs. “Homeowners like to know a strong wind is not going to blow off sections of a properly installed metal roof. It’s always good to bring out pictures of hurricane areas, where shingle roofs are gone and the only roofs for miles are metal roofs,” Miller continues. “It’s hard to argue with that.”

With “green” products being advertised everywhere, homeowners are more aware of the ecological benefits of a metal roof. Miller says, “People want to help the environment, but the environment won’t convince people to install a metal roof — but energy savings can.” When you convince people installing a metal roof will lower their electric bill by as much as 30 percent, they begin to listen to you. “With some people, you can talk reflectivity and emissivity, but with most homeowners I simply tell them that certain metals reflect more heat than shingles. I keep it simple,” says Miller. Miller directs his prospects to various websites where they can learn more if they desire.

In the end, selling a metal roof is like selling any product. You have to show the customers the value of the product is worth more than the cost. “Bring every topic back to value,” says Miller. “A metal roof will save a homeowner more than it cost to install. Convince them of the product-life and the energy savings and your business will flourish.”

Metal roofing is growing each year and its success lies in the salesmen on the front line of the battle.

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