Many articles circulate about choosing the right roofing company to carry out a new installation, roof replacement, or repair. The most valuable recommendations emerging from this content are that nothing replaces (a) due diligence and (b) customer referral. Friends and family with good experiences, neighbors who applaud the performance of a local company, and scanning Yelp and Google reviews provide significant insights and peace of mind. The same goes for gutter contractors. The deeper you look into the pedigree of the entity you want to hire, the better.
Now it’s a fact of life that many homes and commercial buildings get damaged by extreme weather events. Hail, hurricanes, rain-and-wind damage can hit anyone unexpectedly, primarily buildings in belts known for inclement weather. So, imagine a situation where numerous structures in the community – neighborhood or office park, for example – and there’s a scramble to put things back the way they were as quickly as possible. Also, it boils down to an insurance claim that gets approved for a sizable sum in many cases. Therefore, it’s not the homeowners’ or landlords’ money at stake but some institution with deep pockets – like a bank. From hereon, we are going to refer to this as paragraph 2.
So, in the scenario described in paragraph 2, the theory of checking all the best roofer or gutter company boxes frequently flies out of the window. In its place jumps the first quote that comes one’s way from a business that half looks like it can get the project started and completed fast. Indeed, urgency jettisons the standard precautions, and you end up signing on behalf of the insurer’s money with a half-competent team destined to fail. The worst in the latter category are known as storm chasers. And if you get caught in their net, you’re in for a world of frustration. The thing is this: Storm Chasers are professionals at making the most of stressful situations, and you should be ready to remove them from your list.
So, more specifically, what’s a storm chaser?
All over the US, organized companies, sometimes operating on a national scale, present the appearance of “a long time in the business” with a very slick and polished sales presentation. They follow storms, which, in short, means they know you are facing paragraph 2 stresses (above). Accordingly, you are most likely to respond positively to their orchestrated pitch without researching corporate history.
When it comes to storm chasers in the roofing and gutter industry, closing contracts is the game’s name. What happens after that is significantly unimportant. The mission is to close as many deals as possible and ship out fast to the next distressed area. So, where does this leave storm chaser customers?
- Stuck with contractors that have no local office.
- Warranties that a little digging will probably expose as worthless.
- Leaving them with the heavy lifting to secure the appropriate permits. In this regard, note:
- Insurances and licenses are frequently unaligned with regulation requirements.
- You may even find that the company suggests working with no documentation and for cash at a discounted price. Right there are kill-points to any further discussion and an alert that the proposal isn’t above board.
- They have little interest in completing the job to bolster reputation, generate positive reviews, or even see the job through to the end satisfactorily.
- The net result is poor quality work, customer complaints, and turnaround times outside the promised termination dates.
Storm chaser customers aren’t the only victims
The sales team and the sub-contractors hired to do the work are two separate components. Once a signed contract is in the mix, there’s not much the rep can help you with as far as the work quality goes., Even if selling agents want to resolve your complaints about shoddy work, falling behind schedules, etc., there’s not much they can do about it. Indeed, the storm chaser company uses slow work to cut sales commissions, which leads us to the next crucial item:
Storm chaser companies hire sales teams without giving them the whole picture or their intentions (as described above). Consequently, the sales reps genuinely believe it, so the pitch is generally convincing. Unfortunately, these entities recruit the sales teams with the lure of attractive commissions and expense accounts, fully intending to renege on the terms by scaling them back after saturating a targeted area. As a result, many employees leave, and finally, the company fires the ones that hang in. The same cycle of “recruit-sell-renege-fire” repeats over time, dependent on the number of weather events the storm chasers follow along these lines.
How to protect yourself against storm chasers
The short answer is to hire one of the many legitimate roofing contractors near you. A storm chaser will do everything to look local with regular neighborhood customers. So, we suggest the following procedure:
- Search for their website and scan it for address and local contact details. Check them out using Google Maps and ringing the company directly.
- Insist on receiving copies of their general liability insurance and note the address listed on these documents. If not regional, it’s an alert signal that something’s not right.
- The final big test is requesting references of community jobs in progress or completed. Reviews are good, but going one step further to verify them with calls to the reference parties should reveal enough to make a rational decision.
Many articles about the best ways to recruit contractors emphasize that the #1 go-to gauge is first-hand past customer experience. Informal and formal grapevine communications in suburbs, towns, and HOA communities via internet platforms provide ample information. Post your questions online to receive many fast responses. The latter should reveal the true nature of the entity under focus. Moreover, you’ll likely see numerous alternative recommendations simultaneously. It’s the quickest way to sort the good from the bad.
Aside from the above, professional roofing and gutter companies have the in-house capabilities to seamlessly help with permits, insurance claims, selecting the right quality materials, and assessing damage in the first instance. Therefore, one should ask questions about every aspect and carefully observe how the company manages these processes. Also, the information in the quote should be itemized and unambiguous. Conversely, fly-by-night entities frequently provide as little detail as possible. They avoid written documentation like it’s the plague just in case litigation ensues.