Joel T. Johnson loves to help people fix problems. In 2001, billing himself as “Your Roof Leak Detective,” he started a roofing business out of his home with his wife, Veronica. As the business expanded, they moved into an 11,000-square-foot building with warehouse space for equipment, and supplies and offices for a receptionist, bookkeeper, sales manager, and project manager.
Johnson says on his blog that, aside from your family, the roof is the most important part of your home. “We go a long way to help educate the customer and public in general about the importance of a good roof and a good roofing contractor,” he says.
But in 2008, the company ran into financial problems. Despite making $11.7 million in sales, the Johnsons faced a $1.2 million loss. They were even thinking about filing for bankruptcy. That’s where SCORE came in.
Johnson began work with SCORE mentor Jim Sadler in 2009 to save his business. He says the most challenging part of turning the business around has been staff and personnel issues. “Mr. Sadler and I have had many conversations about personnel and the issues they face at work and at home. I think that is my most time-consuming activity I do each week,” says Johnson.
Sadler, says Johnson, “helped me see that I’d created a club instead of a business. The company was paying a lot of people and they were not performing to help the company and our customers.”
Johnson advises other small business owners seeking mentoring with SCORE to come with a list of questions, but to be prepared not to get through all of them. “You will not be ready for the follow up questions the mentor will ask you. They will know just the right questions to get in the dark area of the business and draw out the issues so you can face them,” he says.
Johnson brought his business back from the brink of bankruptcy and the company is profitable once again. They have 15 percent more sales year to date and have added more vehicles and personnel.