How to start a roofing business

As any roofer will tell you, the job requires physical strength, hard work, and technical skill. And starting your own roofing business takes all this and more. 

To help you on your way, this guide will tell you everything you should know about the process of starting your own roofing business, including: 

  • Make a business plan.
  • Budget for start-up costs.
  • Find jobs.
  • Invoice like a professional. 
  • Open a business account.
  • Buy the right insurance.
  • Market your roofing business.
  • Choose a legal structure
  • Register your roofing business. 
  • Use accounting software.

Make a business plan

The first step to starting any business is a robust business plan. You can break it down into seven parts.

1) Executive summary

An executive summary is an overview of your business idea. Include a basic definition of your business, a list of business goals, a product shortlist, and your target customers. You should also include where and how you intend to sell your products, and your financial strategy.

2) Business overview

This should include your official business name, your brand identity, and your business structure. If you have a mission statement, write it here. Explain your vision and describe your background.

3) Market analysis

Describe your competitors and talk about any industry trends you’ve noticed. Write about the consumers you plan to target, and explain why your company is better than the competition.  

4) Products and services snapshot

Expand the product list from your executive summary into a longer description. Explain the features and benefits of the products or services you offer.

5) Marketing plan

Talk about how you plan to market your roofing business. Think about how much money you can devote to marketing, and then break your budget down.

6) Operations plan

This is the most practical section of your business plan. In it, you’ll describe your base of operations and your operational needs, including equipment, supplies, shipping options, funding, and other resources.

7) Financial plan

If you need outside funding, like a business loan, you’ll have to prove you can handle money. That’s where a written financial plan comes in handy. 

Most financial plans include:

  • An income statement: How much money your business brings in per week, month, quarter or year, minus your business-related expenses.
  • A balance sheet: A list of your business assets and liabilities.
  • A cash flow statement: A list of when your income and liabilities come in and go out every month. 

Register your roofing business

You’ll need to choose the legal structure of your roofing business. For example, will you be a sole trader, a limited company?

A sole trader is a simple structure. You have complete control over the profits you make, but you’ll be responsible for any debt. 

A limited company can give a more professional image and give you limited liability for any debt. The main downside is the more complicated admin that’s involved with a limited company.

Next, choose your business name. If you’re going with a limited company, you’ll need to register it with Companies House. If you’re setting up as a sole trader, you can register your name when you complete a self-assessment tax return. 

Notify HMRC of your tax status

If you choose to be a sole trader, you’ll need to register as self-employed with HMRC as you’ll be managing your taxes. 

After registering, you’ll receive your Unique Tax Reference (UTR), and you’ll need this information for submitting your income tax return annually. 

If you’ve chosen to trade as a limited company, you’ll need to register with HMRC as an employer, not self-employed, because you’ll be acting as both a director and an employee in the business. 

After this, you’ll need to sign up to PAYE (pay as you earn) so that you can pay yourself through the limited company.

Budget for start-up costs

A vehicle will be your biggest expense. It needs to be reliable and big enough to store all your other equipment. It could cost anywhere between £15,000 and £30,000 for a new one. A second-hand van will obviously be cheaper, and hiring one will cost between £150 and £250 per month. 

Aside from the vehicle, you’ll also need to budget for everyday roofing equipment, including:

  • A roof rack
  • A ladder.
  • A power ladder (this is optional).
  • A safety harness.
  • A nail gun.
  • Hand tools such as a shingle hatchet.
  • Roofing Knives.
  • Shingle Removal Shovels.
  • A roofing Hammer.
  • A ripper.
  • Hard hats.
  • Moisture detection tools.
  • Roof brackets.
  • Retractable steel tape.
  • Multi-purpose cutters.
  • A caulk gun.
  • A ladder hoist.
  • An electric drill.
  • Metal snips.
  • Tile nippers.
  • A tool belt.

You can find most of the things you need online at roofing supply stores, like Roofing SuperStore and Roofing Supplies UK

Find jobs

For your roofing business to be sustainable, you’re going to need to find a steady stream of jobs throughout the year. Your main sources of work will come from domestic work, private work, or contract work. 

Domestic work

Paying attention to the domestic housing in your area can lead to a lot of work. 

First, find out what the local planning requirements are for domestic housing. For example, there might be certain rules about materials or standards. 

After that, keep an eye out for any buildings that don’t meet those requirements, or just any houses that look a little run down anyway. Things to note when looking for domestic work are:

  • The size of houses.
  • How old the houses are.
  • Whether they’re rented or owned. 
  • Are they owned by council, landlords, housing associations, or private buyers?

It’s important to look out for things like this because your local area’s housing represents your potential target market. Knowing exactly what kind of work is available will bring more opportunities for work. 

Private work

You should also look out for all the things we’ve mentioned above, but for non-domestic buildings in your area. Businesses and organisations like shops, pubs, offices, factories, schools, and churches will all need roofing services at some point.

Keep an eye out for improvements that could be made and make sure they’re aware of your business when they do need work done. 

Contract work

Finding contract work will provide long term work on large scale projects, so it could end up being incredibly profitable. 

Unfortunately, large organisations don’t tend to give out large contracts to new businesses, you may have to prove yourself first with a series of smaller jobs. That being said, you should still prepare for the future by finding out about new housing projects and property regeneration schemes that are on the horizon. 

Find out who is responsible for deciding contracts in these large projects, like local councils, and make yourself known to them. Get in touch, ask them about logistics, pricing, and scale. 

Establishing a good relationship with these larger organisations will put you in good stead when your business has proven itself and has the ability to take on large contracts. 

Invoice like a professional

Invoicing is one of the more tedious parts of running your own business. It’s time-consuming, requires attention to detail, and just adds another layer of complication to your financial bookkeeping. 

To keep you right, here’s a checklist of everything you need to include for a professional invoice.

  • A unique invoice number. They need to be different for each client. For example, John Smith’s invoices could be numbered JS1, JS2, JS3 etc.
  • Invoice Date.
  • Company or business name.
  • Limited Company Registration Number.
  • VAT Registration Number.
  • Limited Company Address.
  • Contact details – email, address, and phone number.
  • Client or agency’s name and address.
  • Description of the services you’re providing to the agency/client.
  • A breakdown of hours and rates. For example, 35 hours at £40 per hour.
  • Date when the services were supplied.
  • Amount charged for services.
  • VAT charged (at 20%).
  • The total amount charged (including VAT)
  • Your business bank account details (sort code and account number).
  • A client reference number or Purchase Order (PO) number.

A lot of invoices also include payment terms, including late payment information.

Small businesses typically provide 30-day payment terms, but it’s entirely up to you. Just make sure you invoice as soon as possible so you get your payments on time. 

Since invoicing can be a pain, try downloading accounting software. It’ll automatically record all your transactions and help you create professional invoices for all your clients. 

Open a business account

Every business owner should open a separate bank account for their business finances. 

It’ll give you a clear idea of how the business is doing financially, help you keep track of your expenses and income, and make things much easier when it comes to doing your taxes. 

There are even some business accounts, like Countingup, that come with accounting software, making your finances much easier to manage. 

Buy the right insurance 

By nature, roofing can be a risky business, so it’s vital that you take out some insurance policies to protect you and your business.

There are some common insurance policies that are a good idea for everybody, such as:

  • Public liability insurance – covers claims made by the public for personal injuries, or loss or damaged property, that occur in connection with your business.
  • Professional indemnity insurance – if your business gives advice or offers a professional service to other businesses, or if you deal with client data or intellectual property.
  • Employers’ liability insurance – If your business employs staff.
  • Business buildings insurance 
  • Business contents insurance – protect the contents of your business premises, your business equipment and tools.
  • Stock insurance – If you hold any stock, whether on your premises or in storage.
  • Product liability insurance – protects you should a customer of yours suffer damage as a result of a faulty product you provide
  • Personal accident insurance 
  • Business interruption insurance – If your business is disrupted by material damage caused by an event such as a flood or fire.
  • Business legal protection insurance – covers your commercial legal expenses and protects against the potential costs of legal action brought by or against your business.

There are also a number of insurance companies that can provide specialised cover for roofers. 

Market your roofing business

Online marketing

Having an online presence is a must. 

Building a website is a good starting point. At the very least, it should include information about your business, contact information, and your prices. You can also set up a payment portal so that people can pay through your website, but it will cost you extra when you’re setting up your site. 

A good website will make sure you appear when people search for van services on search engines like Google. You can also improve your search engines rankings by:

  • Paying for Google ads.
  • Making your site SEO (search engine optimisation) friendly.
  • Asking your customers to leave a Google review.

You can aslo list your roofing business on online directories to help people find you. Google My Business and Facebook’s Promote Your Business Locally, are both great options. But there are also loads of specific directories for tradespeople, contract workers, and roofing businesses, in particular. 

Social Media Marketing

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are also great places to 

advertise your roofing business. 

You can join dedicated groups and connect with millions of people. Posting regularly is the best way to gain some traction, and there’s nothing wrong with getting friends and family to share your posts to get the ball rolling. 

Traditional marketing

Alongside digital marketing, some more traditional forms of marketing can also be effective. You should consider:

  • Making business cards.
  • Printing flyers and brochures. 
  • Teaming up with other local businesses.
  • Encouraging customers, friends, and family to spread the word.

Using accounting software

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.