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Podcast: Why Should I Find Out How My Roofer Pays Their Employees?

Posted November 4, 2017 by Daniel White
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In this episode, Daniel discusses why this is an important difference. Think knowing how your contractor pays their employees is none of your business? It actually will tell you a lot about how the company does business,  and the quality of work you’ll end up with. Ask the right questions.

Podcast Transcription: RoofLifeB027-193

Shayla: You are listening to the Roof Life of Oregon podcast and I’m talking with Daniel today. Daniel, tell me about some of the effects when a roofing company pays their employees by the piece, rather than by the hour.

Daniel: That’s a really good subject to talk about – piece work versus hourly work. So let’s kind of put that together and what that means. Usually if you say piece work or by the square, homeowners don’t quite understand what that means. So roofers are paid in two ways. One, by the hour. We all know how that works. The longer you work, the more hours you get, once you go past forty hours, anything past that is considered overtime. Piece work is a way that a roofing company can get to pay their employees actually less than their actually worth. And I’ll explain it this way. For every 100 square feet, they call it a square, they pay them per square. Roughly 100 square feet is three sheets of plywood, just to give you an idea of how big that is.

So when a roofer pays them by the square, they can get away with not paying that worker overtime. So they can work them like dogs, work them forever, and not pay any extra money into labor.

Case and point. So in my neighborhood, we try to serve everyone we can, and, unfortunately, some neighbors choose to use other roofers, that’s okay. Saturday morning, I wake up to hearing trucks and things like that starting to move and starting to work on roofs. That’s okay. Sometimes we work on Saturdays too. You want to get things done. Sunday morning, same thing. Hammers going, trucks moving. I’m like, wow. These guys are working on a Sunday.
And just me being me, I want to see what’s going on. I walk down, kind of look at the guys, talk to them a little bit to see what’s going on. I said, “Hey, you guys are working on a Sunday.” He goes, “Yep, working.” I said, “Wow, do you guys just work five days, let’s say Tues/Wed/Thus,” and goes, “Oh no, we work every day.” I said, “You work seven days a week?” And he goes, “Oh yeah.” I said, “So you’re working seven days a week with no time off?” And he goes, “No, we keep working. We want to get the jobs done.”

Here’s where that’s important. If you have a roof going on, and this poor guy, bless his heart, he’s working his tail off, trying to provide for his family, if you don’t rest, if you don’t take time off, where do you think your workmanship is going to go at the tail end? You’re never getting a break. You never have a chance to download. These guys are working seven days a week, constantly, getting things done. They’re not getting paid what they’re worth, because the roofing contractor’s paying them by the piece. He knows he’s not having to pay them overtime. So they’re paying them by the piece.

The other incentive for these guys is they want to go fast, because the more they put on, the faster they can get done, then they can go home and get some break. Well, what happens to workmanship quality when you go fast? Things get missed. Things aren’t done right. It’s just all about speed and not about getting it done correctly. We choose to pay our teams by the hour. If they go past forty hours, and they have to work more, we don’t force them to work those overtime hours, we say, hey, we can work on Saturday, do you guys want to work on Saturday?

A lot of times they go, heck yeah, I want to get some extra overtime hours. We’re going to pay them that extra money that they deserve for working over. But then we don’t work them on Sunday. They have to take a day off. So there’s your big difference between hourly work, versus piece work. Take care of your guys, they’re going to take care of your company. They’re going to put on a better roof. If you abuse your crews, they’re going to burn out, and you’re going to put on roofs that aren’t going to last.

Shayla: So when you go to choose a roofing company for your new roof, make sure your choose a company that takes care of their team so that team will take care of your roof. If you have any questions about anything Daniel spoke about today, reach out to the team at Roof Life of Oregon.

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