Solo business focusing on small jobs?

Do any of you guys have experience going into business as a sole proprietor, focusing on small jobs like chimney flashings/caps, chimney repointing, leak repairs and small metal jobs (flashing, downspouts etc.)? How viable is it as a business?

I’ve done some research into material costs, tool cost (ladders, brake) and I have access to a garage to store tools and material so that’s not a cost I’m worried about. I don’t intend to hire anyone as a helper and I want to focus on the quality of my work to ensure referrals and repeat business.

My experience is 3 years in roofing and cladding, focusing on sheet metal flashing work and a good amount of leak diagnosis/service, commercial and residential.

I have a good chunk of money in my account and I’m currently unemployed- does this seem like a big risk? Are there any common pitfalls I should avoid?

Would really appreciate some advice.

I think it could be a viable business, the need is there. However, I wouldn’t even consider doing it as a sole proprietorship. You’re exposing your personal assets to potential liability. Costs about $50 to $75 to form a S Corp or LLC. Consult an Accountant and do it the right way without exposing your personal assets to a significant loss.

2 Likes

I work for a well established 80+ year old company and “small jobs” are more than 50% of the jobs we sell. Most of the smaller jobs we do are in slate and tile roofs, chimney flashing, ridge cap, snow guards, valley replacement, wall flashing and counters. We also do a lot of smaller standing seam and flat seam copper roofs. We do full shingle, slate, and cedar roofs but our real bread and butter is in the smaller higher end detail jobs.

It will really depend the area you are working in and your experience. Personally I would rather go replace 100’ of copper valleys in slate for more money than some guys charge for 20 sq of shingles.

2 Likes

I agree with both respondents. We have worked ourselves into a good spot as a small/medium sized company (22 employees) and are doing well after 25 years. If I was to counsel a younger roofer I would tell them to be a repair specialist. Very little overhead and big profits. We rarely install tile roofs anymore because people don’t want to pay our price but we repair them weekly and make way better money. It just comes in smaller chunks. Specialize in repairs and avoid employee hassles.

2 Likes

I developed and ran a successful service department in a mid sized city for 20yrs. Repairs alone were over 500k after first 3 years. That’s not including maintenance contracts. It was easy due to an established customer base of large businesses with high leak sensitivity and several buildings as well as a few large school districts. All and all less than 20 clients. However, I can not seem to get anything going on my own. If anyone knows how to market a business like this please advise. I have the experience, tools, and customer service focus just can’t get in the door.

Where are you located?

1 Like

What marketing do you find is most effective to get those small jobs? Are you guys mostly word of mouth or do you find people call from your website etc

I’m located in London Ontario, in Canada

Thanks for the advice, that’s what I’m learning more and more as I do research. Need to protect myself, especially if I’m tying my work into others’ work that I may not want to be responsible for

Never even considered commercial work but I have commercial experience so maybe that’s an avenue to pursue in the future, thanks for the insight.

Word of mouth would help you a lot. It might also be better for you given you’re a one man show. Too much marketing could overwhelm you. Go for the lowest hanging fruit first (referrals, people you’ve serviced in the past, etc.) and get on some local apps where you can control how many leads come in, a platform like next-door works well for that.

Facebook is your friend.
Chances are you will be the only roofer all your friends know.

.

How many roofing jobs need done in Mom’s basement?

1 Like