Jonathan Abramson is a native of New York City, but is now the general manager of Metro City Roofing, which was named one of the “top nine roofing contractors in Denver, Colorado” in 2020. He has spent the last 13 years in Colorado, having earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and his MBA from Arizona State University.
After many years in the corporate world, which include working for companies like Apple and Crocs, Jonathan Abramson hopped on the opportunity to explore the roofing industry. It was in this industry where he spent many years building up the necessary experience and expertise before he decided to start his own roofing company.
At Metro City Roofing, Jonathan Abramson expresses his love for the roofing industry which he has called home for the last several years. He makes it easy for individual customers to wade through the insurance claim process, so that they can get new roofs after a hailstorm. He has received numerous certifications and licenses, which includes the distinguished All Lines Adjuster License.
Jonathan Abramson and Metro City Roofing provides their customers only “high-quality materials to ensure that their work is durable and long-lasting.” You can always count on them to help you get the best in roofing, whether you own a rental or a multimillion-dollar home.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Jonathan Abramson: Well, I am definitely not your traditional roofer. After graduating from university, I spent five years in advertising with a large ad agency. I left to earn an MBA with a concentration in Supply Chain Management and worked for Apple and Crocs in Operations roles. I apply my Operations background and discipline to my own roofing company. I learned a lot from past leaders, and Steve Jobs made an impact on me and how he ran his company. Even as CEO, Steve Jobs was known to sweat the small details. As I run my own company, I often ask myself, what would Steve Jobs do if he owned a local roofing company?
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Jonathan Abramson: I worked for another roofing company before starting my own. As a salesperson and project manager, I did not focus on the cash flow of running a company. As an owner, cash flow management is critical. With insurance claim roofing work, there can be several months from the time we buy materials and complete the roof replacement to the time we collect. Delays are driven by insurance companies releasing all funds and compounded by mortgage companies needing to co-endorse a check or wanting to complete their own inspection of the scope of work.
My wife and I were floating tens of thousands of dollars and it was scary to look in our bank account and see our savings greatly diminished. While I never considered giving up, I knew something had to change. If our company grew and we did not have a better process to managing cash, we could be living credit card to credit card. As a business professional, we improved our operations and increased our cash reserves to manage daily operations. We now take profits per job instead of leaving everything in one account.
I am driven by the challenge of making it work. Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good challenge. I know that we have a strong value proposition with our company, and that at the same time, we’re helping people improve their homes.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Jonathan Abramson: Since my roofing company was focused on local insurance agent referrals, I thought I needed to have a basic website only if a prospective customer would take the initiative to research us before calling. I did not seriously consider how much goes into building and maintaining a high-quality website. I don’t know how funny this is — but I also thought I’d create a website that was different from competitors and focus on people hiking, biking, camping, and living their lives while we take care of your roof. It was confusing to the customer. Here was a great example of trying to think differently but it backfired. Lesson learned… do not underestimate the amount of time you will invest to write and curate high-quality, engaging content.
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
- It’s all about the customer. Find out what is important to your customers and deliver. At Metro City Roofing, we understand that roofing is a commodity but the way to differentiate from competitors is through an excellent customer experience. We strive to deliver a hassle-free experience and present ourselves professionally and as knowledgeable resources. Even our business cards are square with thick cardstock to make a differentiated impression to our customers compared to everyone else. While it’s hard to believe customer experience can include a business card, we believe that every detail matters and every interaction can make a difference.
- Start small and become the expert. Set realistic goals — and not just to be the market leader in 12 months. There are so many processes and procedures you will need to learn and master, including managing cashflow, payroll, licenses and insurance, and SEO. You will need time to understand how to run a business well before scaling the business.
- Expect to pivot. As a salesperson at another roofing company, I managed residential and commercial projects. When starting my own company, I believed I should be in both residential and commercial as well, as are essentially all roofing companies. After someone challenged me on this, I realized that our company needed to specialize in residential roof replacements first, and not spread too thinly to include commercial business quite yet. We pivoted and now that’s our primary focus.
- Manage cash and your time. Don’t chase every opportunity that is presented. Your time is a precious commodity. We joined several local Chambers of Commerce but were selective to join the ones where we do business and where we could participate. We were careful not to overextend our time.
- Not every dollar is a good dollar. A company can believe that every customer is a great opportunity for revenue. It’s not. We evaluate the opportunity first and ensure there is good ROI. While we may want to work on everything, with limited resources and time, we need to focus on profitable work.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Jonathan Abramson: Google’s motto was, “Don’t be evil.” While it is a stretch to compare Google to a local roofing company, we believe that giving back to our local community is an important value. We are a local company, and therefore want to pay it forward for the community that supports us. We donate $100 to a local food bank, Food Bank of the Rockies, with every roof replacement. It’s our way to not only help a homeowner when they need us (taking care of the stress and need of replacing their roof) but also to do good in our local community.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Jonathan Abramson: Roofing is really a commodity. As a roofing contractor, at Metro City Roofing, we are constantly seeking ways to differentiate customer experience from competitors, knowing that we’re really selling the same product and service, such as asphalt shingles and install labor. We aim to present ourselves in the most professional way, from our attire to the company folders we provide to customers, offering a detailed explanation of our inspection results and next steps. Our goal is to deliver a hassle-free, professional experience, and once you file a hail damage roof insurance claim, we take over from there as the experts you can trust to get your claim approved and settled successfully and install your quality new roof. We recognize that for many homeowners, replacing a roof is unfamiliar but we strive to deliver the assurance we will take care of you.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Jonathan Abramson: Do what you say you are going to do. Earn trust and respect one customer at a time. Pay attention to the details. Doing the little things (with a focus on the big things, too) will hopefully gain momentum towards your larger goal. Roofing is a referral-based business. The more we can please our customers, the better positioned we will be to help their friends and neighbors.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jonathan Abramson: Please check in regularly on our website as we update blog posts @ https://metrocityroofing.com.
Otherwise, follow us on social media.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!