— By Alexandria Pegnato and Tom Coble —
Roof management enters the digital age.
Historically, when it came to managing a multi-site roof portfolio, a difficult choice had to be made. Does one commit a sizeable budget to being proactive by way of regular inspections and preventive maintenance? Or instead react to issues as they arise, saving money in the short term, but running the risk of increased spend and deteriorating roof performance over time? It was a difficult decision with no ideal option. Now as roofing enters the digital age, some exciting options are available to empower facilities and property managers, helping them to more effectively manage their portfolios.
Before we delve into the current opportunities within digital roof management, it might help to better understand the rather glacial evolution of multi-site roof management in general. In the 1970s, FMs and PMs were charged with the tall task of finding quality local contractors for each and every site and managing them accordingly. It was a cumbersome — and at times overwhelming — task. The 1980s brought the advent of roof consultants, who could bring trade-specific knowledge and expertise, as well as an independent viewpoint, to assist FMs and PMs in making more informed decisions. It was a solid step forward, but they were more project-specific in their focus rather than taking a macro view of the entire portfolio. The 1990s saw the emergence of national roofing contractors, who could focus more broadly across roof portfolios, but were not able to provide an independent viewpoint. The 2000s brought about aggregators, who could offer the independent viewpoint on a national scale, but still operated in a predominantly reactive environment.
The state of the industry, while offering more options, still resided in a very antiquated model. And still the same nagging and difficult question remained: do I try to find money to commit to costly assessments and preventive maintenance, or do I sacrifice roof performance (and likely customer and employee satisfaction) by just servicing them on demand?
Fast forward to today. The multi-site roof industry has entered the digital world. The industry has taken the best practices from other successful digital platforms (think Uber, Airbnb, Spotify) and utilized them to enable multi-site companies to proactively manage their roof portfolios without the oft-stifling front end costs historically necessary to do so. The key to doing this: data analytics. Having a tool to capture, warehouse and analyze data from every service call can greatly enhance visibility on an individual roof, as well as across an entire portfolio. And it can be done by simply capturing more detail on a standard service call. Recording what section of the roof the leak was on, what type of leak it was, the repairs that were made, and the overall condition of the roof — all these data points can help facilities and property managers make more informed decisions and prioritize where to spend their limited OPEX and CAPEX funds.
Even the front-end of service calls benefit from robust software development. Enabling local contractors to reduce the cumbersome and time-consuming elements of entering calls and communicating ETAs can now be done with a seamless interface between their own work order management software, such as FCS/Jobba, and a roof portfolio management platform. It can even tie into the client’s facilities management platform to create a complete flow of communication. This integration significantly reduces labor and time requirements, while enhancing data gathering and management, as well as customer satisfaction. More work can be done more quickly and effectively, all while accumulating data that in the past that was either impossible, or simply too expensive, to capture.
Another important benefit of digital platforms is the ability to quickly and effectively scale. With scale comes the ability to build more data, analyze more service history, and manage more sites with greater visibility. As with platforms such as Uber, Airbnb and Spotify, the scalability essentially enhances the efficacy of the platform. More data makes for more knowledge and better metrics, which makes for a more effective solution. And with that comes an enhanced experience for the customer. Platforms that focus exclusively on roof management follow the same tried and true model as these household names and disruptors do in their respective industries. On top of the enhanced customer experience, they also allow for more informed decision-making for FMs and PMs, thereby achieving the ever-important reduction in total cost of ownership across their roof portfolios.
Roofs are a high spend area that is likely one of the least observed assets on a building. And prior to recently, the only way to effectively manage the asset was the old-fashioned way: by way of frequent, time-consuming and costly assessments. Now that roof management has moved into the digital age, those charged with managing them can have a powerful platform at their disposal, enabling them to gain visibility and empowering them to make informed, intelligent and cost-effective decisions.
— Alexandria Pegnato, executive vice president, and Tom Coble, vice president of sales, work with Pegnato Roof Intelligence Network, a digital roofing platform that connects national, multi-site companies with high-quality local contractors, utilizing data analytics to achieve the lowest total cost of ownership across clients’ roof portfolios. You may reach them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.