Zachary Sayles is co-owner of Omega Roofing — a family business founded on honesty, hard work, and integrity that provides high-quality roof installation and repair services throughout Idaho’s Magic Valley.
Who better to answer your questions about starting and running a small business than successful business owners who’ve done it themselves?
This month, we’re partnering with business owners featured in Grit & Greenlights: Small Business Stories with Matthew McConaughey to answer questions from our social media audience — covering getting started, building a team, expanding locations, and more.
First up is Zachary Sayles.
Zachary and his business partner, Dylan Winmill, took a big risk in quitting their sales jobs to open Omega Roofing in the midst of the Pandemic. But they have a vision to build Idaho’s biggest roofing company on a foundation of honesty, hard work, and integrity. And business hasn’t stopped or slowed down since they started.
This was a trial-and-error run for about a year before we pivoted into a solution that has worked extremely well for us. At first, our crew fluctuated heavily (from 5 crew members at times to 16 at one point). Like most other companies during the pandemic, we had difficulty finding help — and finding great help was even more difficult. Turnover was high, and so I’ll say we averaged a 6-7 man crew. We found a handful of people from Homebase’s hiring tab. The bulk of the others came from hiring a guy who then “had a friend who was looking for work.” It was a domino effect. The training formula was essentially: 1) teach them the core concepts, 2) let them become efficient, 3) teach them digestible chunks of new information, 4) let them become efficient, and 5) repeat steps 3 and 4.
We’ve since pivoted from that model. We kept 3 core guys from the original crew and repositioned them into a production manager, project manager, and repair tech. Throughout the last 4 months or so of our first year in business, I began constantly networking and building relationships, many of which happened through joining every roofing/contractor group I could find on Facebook. I met a subcontractor from a nearby city in one of the groups — and our work values aligned nearly perfectly, which is very important to me. We brought him on board and vetted his crew, and we continually conduct quality control throughout and post-build. They’ve become a key partnership.
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This is a bit tricky without knowing more specifically the growing pains you are facing, but I can speak to four things, in particular, that have helped me through some of my growing pains:
Make their experience with your company one-of-a-kind and unforgettable. In my market, a simple thing we do is always answer our phone (or call back asap) and show up when we say we will. People love it because it’s not the norm for other roofing companies here.
It also helps to always have your clients’ best interests at heart. You can show this in a multitude of ways: showing professionalism in every interaction, leaving the job site cleaner than you found it, going above and beyond the scope of work (even in just some minor way), taking pride in your craft, owning and addressing legitimate mistakes, and being fully present when you’re engaging with a client.
Something else you can do is market research in the field. Ask your clients — or a client whose business you didn’t earn — why they did or didn’t choose your company. Then, continue asking follow-up questions based on their responses and why they feel that way. You can learn a lot with this tactic that you can capitalize on and begin implementing in your day-to-day operations to earn raving fans.
Finally, you can offer incentives. For example: “If you wouldn’t mind sharing your experience about our company with your friends and family, we offer $x per referral.” Or, on a more personal level, you could offer something more tailored, such as tickets to a baseball game for the family.
I personally believe this stems from the creation of an inclusive company culture. I think an environment in which an employee feels safe and comfortable — and is also encouraged and applauded for effective critical thinking — will foster the types of behaviors that lead to them identifying new business opportunities.
A few concepts I’ve recently begun implementing are: creating a familial bond through company events (e.g., BBQs, bowling, dinner), a conversational meeting style in which I actively encourage discussion and participation, asking open-ended questions to engage critical thinking and correct mistakes (e.g., “where could we improve the next time we run into a situation like this?”), allowing employees to problem solve themselves, praising publicly, owning any mistakes made by an employee to an outsider of the company, and giving the team all the credit for a job well done.
We’ve done almost an entire rehab of the company from the ground up, with the exception of our values and other key areas we felt we excelled at. In our first year of business, we had a goal of being the number one roofing company in Idaho — with a lot of hunger and little plans or resources to help us get there. Going into the second year, we began making drastic changes.
Overall, it comes down to having a crystal clear vision of the future and a plan full of smaller more attainable goals that move us that much closer to bringing our vision to fruition. Our foundation started out on sand, and is now freshly poured concrete. It’s getting stronger every day through intentional effort. We are excited and looking forward to beginning to build upward. The sky is truly the limit!