Josh Morrison is MD of JR Roofing Lancs, a Freefoam Registered Installer and winner of the Which? Trader of the Month in December 2019. We caught up with Josh to talk all things roofing, including his path to his current position, dealing with difficult customers, the issues impacting on roofers in today’s market and balancing work with family time.
10 questions for Josh Morrison
TC: What was your path into roofing and to your current position?
JM: I’ve been in the trade from a young age. After I left school, I started labouring for the family business and never looked back. I’ve always had a drive to work in the building trade and expand my knowledge. I also love working outdoors, which is an obvious benefit!
I found my passion for roofing and established JR Roofing around four years ago. Our aim was to deliver quality, reliability and excellent customer service. We’ve built our reputation on attention to detail and giving real value to customers, so we were overjoyed to win Which? Trader of the Month in December.
We also try to give back to the local community and help people in need. We’ve come to the rescue of a few homeowners who’ve fallen prey to ‘cowboys’. One that stands out was an elderly lady who paid rogue traders a significant deposit but was left with a damaged, unsafe roof and a terrible mess in her garden. They demanded full payment and the homeowner was clearly distressed so we stepped in to replace her roof and undo all the bad work.
TC: If you had one piece of advice about working and progressing in the roofing sector, what would it be?
JM: Without a doubt, to get the backing of a reputable organisation. JR Roofing is part of the Confederation of Roofing contractors and we’re also a Which? Trusted Trader. We went through a detailed vetting process with Which?, but we knew it was the right move for the business. It shows customers we’re serious about standards and quality and gives us insurance-backed guarantees, which gives further assurance to homeowners.
We also choose suppliers who offer strong product guarantees. We’re a Freefoam Registered Installer and we’ve worked with them for over two years, buying their products through CP Building Plastics. We switched from another roofline supplier because Freefoam’s guarantees are unbeatable – 50 years on white roofline and 10 years on colour roofline. Freefoam’s products also have a high quality finish, are easy to install and their colour range is second-to-none.
My other piece of advice is to build a strong online presence – this has been vital to our success and we always keep our portfolio up-to-date with before and after pictures.
TC: Tell us about a current project you’re working on…
JM: We’ve got a busy year ahead. We’re currently working on a number of re-roofs and some interesting Victorian properties. It’s going to be an exciting year, stay tuned for details of future projects!
TC: You must have worked on some difficult projects over the years. Does one in particular stand out?
JM: You’re right, we’ve worked on a number of complex projects, but we enjoy the challenge! We see a lot of problems where previous contractors have applied foam insulation to the joists and used it to bond roof tiles. It can make repairs very difficult and in extreme cases it’s a health and safety hazard, making it hard for homeowners to sell their properties. We worked on one detached house where all the joists had been back foamed. It was in such a bad state we had to cut the foam out from the inside and replace the whole roof.
TC: What about difficult customers, how do you deal with them? Any situations that stand out that you can tell us about?
JM: You get difficult customers in every industry, but the key is how you approach them and deal with their problems, and I’m proud to say we have over 150 5-star reviews online.
Of course, some people are more demanding than others, so we try to see things from the customer’s point of view and work out the best way of resolving their issues. We try to treat customers fairly and keep the dialogue open throughout the job. We take time to assess each project so we can give accurate estimates and avoid unexpected bills. If problems do crop up, we make sure we explain them to customers. I tell all my team to leave jobs clean and tidy at the end of every day and keep customers updated on progress.
TC: What’s the most frustrating thing about your job?
JM: Probably the struggle of balancing work with family time. As anyone who runs their own business knows, it’s hard to switch off and make a clear distinction between work and time off with the children. Saying that, I love my work and the good outweighs the bad. I’m passionate about roofing and learning new skills, and I thrive off the buzz of this industry.
TC: And the most satisfying?
JM: I’m quite artistic and I enjoy creating beautiful cast lead features for roofs. I’m definitely a perfectionist so I get huge satisfaction from seeing a finished project with quality workmanship.
TC: What’s your most important asset as a roofing contractor, either in the office or on site?
JM: It has to be my partner, Danielle. She works full time at JR Roofing and does everything from managing the works schedules and looking after the company’s accounts to sending out quotations and liaising customers. She even brings out spare tools to jobs when we’re stuck!
TC: What’s the biggest issue currently affecting you as a roofer?
JM: It’s a competitive industry and new companies seem to be setting up every week. A lot of them try to win business by slashing prices, but often they’re not experienced enough to cope with complex jobs. That’s the biggest issue for us – traders who ‘have a go’ at something without the right training and experience. It causes more problems and we end up spending more time undoing the damage.
TC: How has 2019 been and are there reasons to be positive for 2020?
JM: 2019 was a rollercoaster – we were extremely busy, and winning Which? Trader of the Month was the highlight of a fantastic year. We were delighted to get recognition for our work and put Blackpool on the map. JR Roofing is gradually expanding and we see lots of reasons to be positive in 2020. Consumer confidence has picked up and we have a lot of projects in the pipeline.