Five focus areas plus ways your supplier should be helping you with each.
By Charles ValentineWeightlifters constantly aspire to be stronger. So too do most businesses. But some weightlifters spend too much time on just a few muscle groups because the exercises are familiar, take less time, or produce results more quickly. An unbalanced workout routine can create an unbalanced body—which, over time, can lead to an unsightly appearance and even injuries.
Similarly, spray foam businesses can focus too much on one business area, such as installation optimization. Often, that’s where they are most comfortable and what they know best. When they ignore or spend less time on other critical areas, such as their financials, they shape an unbalanced business that isn’t as successful or efficient as it could be. To achieve optimal performance, body builders and spray foam companies need to take a balanced approach.
To help with that, weightlifters often benefit from the support and guidance of an athletic trainer. Spray foam contractors can similarly benefit—from a partnership with an expert supplier that has already helped other contractors grow stronger and achieve their goals. The best suppliers assist contractors on a business and marketing level as much as on a technical level. They offer advice on everything from bidding jobs and accounting, to material costs and setting margins, as well as the importance of foam yield.
The following are the key business areas on which SPF contractors should focus, plus the ways your supplier should be supporting your efforts to get stronger.
- TRAINING: What to Know Now
Contractors need to stay abreast of the latest products, processes, and more so that they can effectively train their employees – but they don’t have to do it by themselves. The Spray Foam Association (SPFA), Center for Polyurethanes Industry (CPI), and Spray Foam Coalition (SFC) have invested in resources to increase contractor knowledge of safety practices. It is key to both your employees’ safety and to your bottom line that you stay abreast of the best practices available. Your supplier should support you – like an athletic trainer would – in working safely.
With a fair amount of employee turnover in the industry, contractors need to be able to effectively train new employees – and to continue the education of longstanding employees. That’s when you should turn to your supplier. However, not all spray foam suppliers offer in-depth, in-house training – the bare minimum for gaining the knowledge necessary for a contractor’s employees to become expert installers. Top suppliers also offer robust websites with 24/7 access to technical videos, building science articles, and technical support to help existing employees.
- PRODUCTS: The Proper Fuel for Growth
Although repetitions of various exercises help build muscle, diet and nutrition also play a critical role. For spray foam contractors, a steady diet of high-performance high-yielding foam is essential. With the cost of goods for spray foam applications often totaling up to 60 percent of the cost, selecting the right supplier with products that will strengthen your business is critical.
Sucrose-based formulations, particularly SucraSeal from SES Foam LLC, are inherently fire resistive. Passing the ICC-ES AC 377 Appendix X fire test without an additional coating gives contractors an advantage in the market. Appendix X approval allows installers to skip the expensive and time-consuming step of applying fire protective coatings in restricted-access attics and crawlspaces. Providing homeowners with increased fire performance is a prudent choice for contractors.
- INSTALLATIONS: Perfecting Sound, Consistent Technique
For a body builder to benefit from lifting weights, each rep must be done with the correct technique. The same goes for spray foam installations. Implementing a supplier’s recommended procedures can increase yield and margins. Most companies think they’re performing these procedures correctly, but what if they’re not?
The best suppliers provide onsite and online training in addition to in-house opportunities. This allows the supplier to truly help the contractor ensure they’re optimizing every installation. The most committed suppliers offer job-site service with everything from building a rig from scratch to troubleshooting equipment. Manufacturers providing this level of training and support stand out in the industry by ensuring that the end product for every application is of the highest quality.
- CUSTOMERS: Smart Repetitions Build Results
Every weightlifter knows that one workout doesn’t produce all the results they seek. It takes many workouts to eventually reach your goals. Is there any better parallel to acquiring foam installation customers? One mass email or banner ad isn’t likely to turn into a flock of customers. Contractors have to consistently market themselves in smart ways to drive the interest that turns into business.
Contractors that spend too much time on the operations side of their business without paying much attention to marketing can quickly find themselves short on paying customers and jobs. This is one of the most important areas for contractors to balance appropriately among their many priorities.
But again, contractors don’t have to go it alone.
A manufacturer shouldn’t just want the business of their spray foam contractors. They should want their contractors to succeed in their own businesses and should supply marketing and branding solutions to help make that possible. Smart suppliers offer unique products and protected territories to contractors to help them differentiate themselves and increase their market presence. Customized brochures and marketing techniques designed for a specific contractor and their market are also signs of a supplier’s commitment to a strong partnership—and a contractor’s possibilities for growth.
- FINANCIALS: Tracking Progress and Success
Some body builders train to lose weight, enhance their physique, or increase their performance while playing other sports. Regardless of their goals, they still need to gauge their progress along the way.
For spray foam companies, some of the most important metrics for tracking business strength and growth are yield and profitability of each spray foam application. Without accurate tracking of these metrics, it’s nearly impossible to tell if a company is truly improving or getting closer to reaching its goals. Too many contractors don’t pay attention to these metrics, and it’s the number one reason that so many struggle to stay in business—let alone grow.
Contractors should look for suppliers that invest in tools that reveal these metrics. Only then can the contractor see whether or not some of their hard work is being wasted and where to focus on adding more value to the company.
There are many opportunities for contractors to strengthen their business. Working with the right partner and maintaining a balanced approach to running their business can lead to the long-term growth and strength they seek. When a supplier helps contractors with training, technical knowledge, marketing, and best business practices, you can count on that contractor’s business growing stronger. •
Contact SES FOAM
Direct any questions about business growth to SES Foam:
Phone: 855-335-2440 / 713-239-0252
Photos courtesy of Build-Marketing