Oct 13, 2022 | 10 min read

Seven steps to starting a successful roofing company

Are you ready to bring your roofing expertise to your local construction market but not how to start your business? 

In the following guide, we’ll break down the process of starting a roofing business into seven actionable steps. We’ll also explore three frequently asked questions (FAQs) from potential roofing business owners and break down how you can use Nextdoor to take your roofing business to the next level. 

While each of the steps below may require a significant investment of both time and capital, each one can bring you one step closer to small business success. 

Step 1: Create a financial plan

The first step when starting a roofing business—or any business—is to build a financial plan. Doing so allows you to estimate what capital you’ll need before you begin and whether you have the resources needed to stay afloat.

Your financial plan should account for:

  • Your personal finances
  • Your business’s financial model
  • Your backup plan (for both your business and personal finances) if the business doesn’t succeed

So, what should the personal arm of your money management plan entail? Make sure to examine:

  • Your emergency fund and savings
  • How you’ll pay your personal financial obligations, like:
    • Mortgage payments
    • Home utility and internet bills
    • Car payments
    • Insurance premiums
  • Any upcoming major transactions for which you’ll need cash
  • How much you’ll need to pay yourself to meet your personal needs

Your business financial plan should be very detailed. At a minimum, make sure you account for:

  • Overhead costs, including
    • Rent or mortgage payments
    • Utilities and internet
    • Insurance policies
    • Licensing costs
    • Fees to operate in your municipality
  • Employee wages and benefits
  • Fees for your services
  • The prices of materials and subcontracted services

Part of your financial planning should include how to price a roofing job. While you want to stand out and offer lower prices, you should also factor in the profit. After all, that’s what’s going to fund your business moving forward.

Step 2: Complete the licensing process

In many states, companies performing roofing work must operate under a professional license. To be granted a professional roofing license, you’ll likely have to:

  • Complete and log training and experience hours
  • Take required educational courses
  • Sit for a certification exam
  • Pay annually to maintain the license
  • Participate in continuing education 

While regulations differ across states and municipalities, roofing contractors should expect to need at least one kind of license. This may be a professional roofing license, but could also include one of the following:

  • Business or occupational license - sometimes called a business tax receipt - which you may need for your state, county, and/or municipality
  • General contractor’s professional license
  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL), depending on the equipment you’ll be operating

Step 3: Establish a legal entity

Depending on where you live, you may have to establish a legal entity for your roofing business before completing the licensing process. Make sure to review your local regulations carefully to stay in compliance. 

The legal entity establishment process typically includes:

  • Registering your business name with your state’s government
  • Certifying yourself as the license holder for the business
  • Applying for a Tax ID Number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as one of the following:
    •  S-Corporation
    • C-Corporation
    • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
    • Sole Proprietorship
    • Joint Partnership

In addition, your state may require you to carry at least one of the following insurance policies. You should procure these as soon as you’ve established a legal presence in your state:

  • General Liability insurance
  • Automobile insurance
  • Umbrella coverage
  • Worker’s Compensation insurance
  • Certain employee insurance policies, depending on your state laws, may include:
    • Health insurance
    • Life insurance

Step 4: Find subcontractors and suppliers

If you’re interested in becoming a roofing contractor, you’re probably not interested in manufacturing shingles, flashing, nails, or other roofing supplies. Instead, you’ll need to establish a list of trusted subcontractors and suppliers to provide things like:

  • Roofing material supplies, such as:
    • Shingles, tiles, or metal
    • Flashing
    • Plywood
    • Sealants
  • General equipment, like:
    • Nail guns
    • Sealant brushes
    • Uniforms
  • Safety supplies, including:
    • Safety harnesses
    • Hard hats
    • Eye and ear protection
  • Heavy machinery, like:
    • Cranes
    • Booms/aerial lifts
    • Materials transport vehicles

Remember to shop around for the best price before you settle on a supplier. To help you compare the different options, gather quotes from at least three different companies for each service. Don’t forget that you can renegotiate prices with your subcontractors or suppliers as you build a relationship or as your company grows.

Step 5: Hone in on branding

Before you start drawing in clients, you’ll need branding materials to help your business stand out from others. These can include:

  • Company colors
  • A logo including:
    • A personalized symbol or mark
    • Unique text and fonts
  • Website copy
  • Online forms, like:
    • A contact form
    • An estimate request form
    • A review or feedback form

So, what does roofing company branding look like? Two examples include:

  • Perry Roofing – Perry Roofing, located in Gainesville, FL, has a logo with a unique font. Their well-developed website features two company colors—navy blue and lime green.
  • Garlock-French Roofing – Based in Minneapolis, MN, Garlock-French’s website showcases its services, features a logo, and uses three company colors (red, black, and white). 

You can either meet your branding needs on your own or hire a graphic designer, marketing manager, or creative firm. 

Step 6: Find clients

Securing clients is arguably the most important step on this list. Let’s explore a few potential client bases for your new roofing business.

General contractors

General contractors take on a variety of building projects, but they rarely complete all of the trades with their in-house staff. Typically, general contractors subcontract major and minor trades, like:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Framing
  • Roofing
  • Masonry
  • Doors and trim
  • Post-construction cleaning

When you open your roofing company, start networking with local general contractors as soon as possible. They can subcontract work to you, recommend you for jobs, and refer you to their clients when they receive roofing requests. Aside from recommending clients, each roofing job only adds to your company's portfolio, bolstering your reputation in the roofing industry.

Local entities

If you plan on performing roofing work for public entities in your area, make sure to introduce yourself to potential state, county, and/or local clients. These may include:

  • Purchasing or procurement offices
  • Architectural design team
  • Planning and zoning committee
  • Building and permitting department

In addition, most government entities have a public database of upcoming bids. If your local government offers one, you can make a company account and sign up for alerts to be notified when new bid opportunities are posted. 

Homeowners and businesses

Individual homeowners and businesses can build out your clientele, and finding a connection with locals in your market is crucial. 

Nextdoor is an excellent resource for small businesses looking to network with potential clients in their neighborhoods. With a free Nextdoor business profile, you can:

  • Interact one-on-one with potential customers
  • Seek and publish reviews
  • Advertise promotions and services
  • Post blog updates

With 88% of Nextdoor neighbors users supporting local businesses once a week or more, Nextdoor is an effective tool for getting your small business on the map. Connecting with your community has never been easier. 

Step 7: Collect testimonials and build on your marketing literature

As you complete your first few jobs, make sure to request feedback and reviews once your projects are complete. 

Reviews can be a crucial piece of your marketing puzzle. You can include verbatim reviews, excerpts, or star ratings in:

  • Your website copy
  • Promotional graphics and advertisements
  • Brochures, fliers, and physical media
  • Your internet profiles, like your Nextdoor page or social media accounts

Reviews can be an excellent way to prove your worth to clients, especially in the early days of your roofing business. Don’t be afraid to ask clients for feedback. 

Roofing business FAQs

It’s not uncommon to have some questions when you’re starting a new business. Here are some FAQs from roofing industry newcomers.

Do I need a license to start a roofing business?

Licensing can be a complicated matter for roofing businesses. Laws vary from state to state, so make sure to review your local regulations to make sure you can meet the licensing requirements. 

In some states, you can own a roofing company without a roofing contractor’s license. But in those cases, another full-time employee usually has to “certify” the business with their license. 

Earning any kind of trade-specific professional license can be a time-consuming process. But it’s crucial that you closely follow your local guidelines. Companies that operate outside of local licensing requirements could:

  • Be subject to legal action
  • Be charged fines or other fees
  • Lose their business or occupational license

How do I market my roofing business?

You can use a number of different marketing methods to draw in new clients. Some potential options include:

  • Physical advertising media, like:
    • Flyers
    • Business cards
    • Posters
    • Billboards
  • Word-of-mouth advertising (make sure to keep business cards on hand)
  • Radio or TV advertisements
  • A small business networking, marketing, and referrals platform like Nextdoor
  • Joint promotions with other small businesses
  • Attending local events hosted by trade organizations or Chambers of Commerce

How much should I charge for services?

Roofing service pricing guides generally recommend accounting for the following in your pricing model:

  • Industry standards in your area
  • The costs of materials in your region
  • The type of roofing services you provide, such as:
    • Commercial roofing service
    • Residential roofing service
    • Repairs, renovations, or maintenance
    • Specialty roofing (e.g. flat roofs, roofs with solar panels)

Most importantly, your pricing should help you cover the costs of your business. After all, your fees are a crucial part of your business model. 

Nextdoor: Your one-stop shop for all things small business

Starting out as a new business owner in the roofing trade can take significant front-end effort, but if you follow the steps above, you can establish your new brand with limited hassle.

With Nextdoor, connecting with nearby customers has never been simpler. 

Business owners can engage with potential clients one-on-one, post business updates, place ads, and increase their brand awareness all in one place. 

Your new clients are out there—and they’re using Nextdoor to discover small businesses in their area. 


Claim your free Business Page

Claim your free business page
Author image Nextdoor Editorial Team At Nextdoor, we love local. The Nextdoor Editorial Team is dedicated to telling stories of local businesses, providing product education, and sharing marketing best practices to help businesses grow.