The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has taken the entire world by storm. Every area of the economy has been impacted. The healthcare industry is overworked and some sectors and of the economy, such as retail, being shut down completely. The commercial roofing sector has been hit as well. Michigan, in particular has one of the most restrictive stay-at-home orders in the country.

As a whole, commercial roofing companies in Michigan, including Schena Roofing, are allowed to work only if it is supporting one of the essential industries in the state. This includes government offices, banks, healthcare facilities (including pharmacies), and grocery stores.

SBA Loans and the PPP Are a Source of Confusion
In the meantime, leaders in the commercial roofing sector are trying to find ways to keep their businesses going while their work has been reduced. While the stimulus package and Payroll Protection Program (PPP) package has been helpful, the process of applying for a small business loan hasn’t been easy, and commercial roofers are still trying to figure out exactly how to use the money from the PPP. The most significant benefit of this program is if the funds are used to keep staff on the payroll, then the loan is forgiven. That said, when these individuals return to work, there might not be any work for them yet. Many questions remain unanswered such as how to handle the payroll component for the PPP. How do you calculate what full time equivalent is in an industry notorious for employees that come and go? Is it best to keep some employees on unemployment? Clarifications from the SBA is needed desperately.

Thankfully, the National Roofing Contractors Association should be able to provide some guidance. They have been having virtual meetings during the pandemic, helping contractors answer some of their most common questions. Over the next few weeks, the Association should work hard to clarify some of these issues so that commercial roofing businesses are prepared when the economy reopens.

Some Projects Move Forward. Safety is key.
Fortunately, there are still some commercial roofing projects that are rolling out. While call volumes are down, roofers are keeping essential businesses safe and protected. When Schena Roofing employees do go out on the job, they follow all precautions recommended by the CDC. They remain six feet apart, they wear gloves and masks, and they have their temperature taken at the beginning of each day. This adds additional layers of safety to an industry that already focuses on keeping employees from getting hurt on the job. Because roofing employees are already used to taking extreme safety precautions, this has been natural for those that are still out there working regularly.

Virtual Work in the Commercial Roofing Industry
While roofing itself is manual labor, much of the behind the scenes work is online. Many companies have employees that can work from home, and meetings are conducted virtually through video conferencing solutions such as Zoom. There is also a rise in the frequency of virtual sales estimating strategies. Video calls and virtual meetings with consultants can help commercial roofing companies strengthen leads with clients and fill up their schedules in the future. This strategy is particularly helpful for filling in gaps that might be left by those who cancel their orders.

For those employees that must come into the office if they are supporting essential businesses, they still observe social distancing measures that have been recommended by the CDC—including wearing personal protective equipment and washing their hands regularly.

Faith Remains Strong
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a challenging time for the commercial roofing industry. Already, clients are canceling during what is traditionally the busy season in commercial roofing or are choosing to hold off because of the uncertainty with the economy. The hope is that the orders will heat back up when the quarantine is removed and everything rebounds. Canceled clients may decide to reschedule their orders again once the pandemic starts to fade. Right now, it is difficult to predict when this crisis is going to pass. As the traditional busy season for the roofing industry draws closer, many are getting concerned; however, faith throughout the industry is strong, and the welfare and safety of the employees are always at the top of the priority list.