Hish Rahman and His Incredible Team Have Enjoyed Strong Sales & an Even Better Profit Margin for the Past 13 Years by Working Hard, Working Smart, and Always Delivering an Exceptional Service Experience. Today, Hish Still Loves What He Does & Loves Giving Back, Helping Others Reach Their Goals & Aspirations. Listen to his story on our latest The Successful Contractor Podcast, or read below.
Hish remembered the story well. He was a manager at a restaurant named Foozi’s at the time. Just 23 years old, he supervised people much older than himself. And he was having a rough day with his disgruntled staff.
“I didn’t have my usual smile and pep, to say the least,” Hish recounted and chuckled to himself at the memory. “My GM noticed. He pulled me aside, looked me in the eye, and said, ‘Hish, you are a professional, and you will conduct yourself as a professional.’ There was nothing in what he said that was motivating—he was commanding me.”
“A light went off in my head at that moment—it made that much of an impression. From that day forward, anything I ever did, I was going to be a professional.”
Today, Hish is the owner of Precision Roof Crafters headquartered in Houston, Texas. His passion for professionalism has been the driving factor behind the company’s success. “That’s the number-one comment we get from our customers: we’re incredibly professional. We thoroughly explain what we’re going to do. We take plenty of time to help the customer understand their roofing system. And everyone the customer talks to from our organization communicates well,” Hish said proudly. “We get compliments like that all the time, and I always feel two inches taller afterward.”
“It’s important to me that we’re not another roofing company. I emphasize that all the time. ‘You aren’t a roofer—you’re a roofing professional. You’re not an accountant—you’re an accounting professional. You’re not a CCR—you’re a client-care professional.’ Everyone must see themselves through the lens of being a professional and conduct themselves in that manner. I have a great team that’s taken that message and executed on it.”
College Student–Turned Corporate Trainer
Hish never envisioned himself in the roofing business. He never imagined himself in the restaurant business. Yet he’s in both today, and both have defined his professional life. At 18 years old, Hish was in college, majoring in computer science. He found a job at a local Bennigan’s to make some money.
Hish may have only been a busboy, but he treated this seemingly pedestrian position with a great attitude. And he worked incredibly hard. His consistent approach caught the attention of his general manager, a man he would later call a dear friend and mentor, Johnny Carrabba.
Hish had found his niche. His tenacity combined with his strong communication skills made him a natural for the restaurant business. In no time, Hish was promoted to bartender, then bar trainer, and finally a corporate trainer.
“I was on the national opening team for corporate. Whenever they opened a new store, they would ship us out. We would descend on those stores, train their people, and get that location up and going,” Hish said with his trademark, easy smile. “I was spending summers and Christmas breaks traveling all over the country, working with fun people, and learning. I absolutely loved it. My career in restaurants took off from there.”
It was Johnny Carrabba who would recruit Hish to become the general manager of the very first Carrabba’s. “I spent 14 years in the restaurant business. It was my passion, my first love, I tell people even before my wife,” Hish said and laughed aloud. “Well, I met her in the restaurant business. We’re going on over 32 years together. I’ve been blessed beyond belief in every way.”
Dream Turned Disaster
In his previous life, before roofing ever entered his mind, Hish held tight to a dream: he would open his own restaurant by the time he was 30. At 29, a friend who had connections with supposedly deep pockets approached Hish with an idea for a restaurant. The money players didn’t have the operational skills. They needed help, and they wanted Hish.
Hish became part of a partnership in this new venture. The group spent 10 long months working on a building that would hopefully become Hish’s dream, his restaurant. “This building had been a gas station for 25 years. The EPA said we had to remove the gas tanks, which were still underground. They were leaking and contaminating the ground,” Hish explained. “We had to figure out where we were going to get this money. We made the fateful decision to save money by dropping all our insurance, except what we had on the building—we figured we didn’t need it because we weren’t open.”
Months more of hard work went into what was becoming a beautiful space. Everything was ready to go. The equipment and fixtures installed. Even the computer system was in place. “Everything we had spent was through leases and loans, mind you,” Hish said. “Then, two weeks before we were set to open, we had an electrical fire. We lost everything.”
Faulty work performed by an electrician was the reason. It would take three years for Hish and his group to receive a settlement. The banks and creditors didn’t care—they want their money now. Every dollar from the insurance on the building went toward paying off what they could. Hish’s partners filed for bankruptcy. Hish refused.
“I went through three months of mourning. I went through denial, guilt, blame, anger, all these emotions,” Hish explained. “I finally snapped out of it and said to myself, ‘I have to find something to do.’ But I didn’t have it in me to put my heart and soul into running a restaurant for somebody else. I needed to do something different.”
Hish Finds Roofing
A friend of Hish’s from the restaurant business worked for a spell in the roofing industry. He casually cast the idea to Hish about giving it a go. “I didn’t know a thing about roofing,” Hish admitted. “After doing some research to try and understand the business, it seemed to focus intently on project management, my background. I had lost everything at that point, so I thought why not start something new from scratch. That’s what we did.”
The two, new partners opened Precision Roof Crafters in 1996. Before long, the appeal of being a business owner faded for Hish’s partner, and he abandoned the company. “I think he wanted to be able to go home and sleep peacefully at night,” Hish said and laughed. Precision Roof Crafters was all Hish’s, and it looked as if Hish had found a new home.
“We grew rapidly. We did a lot of new construction. Most of it commercial. Our company was really built on 11 clients,” Hish said, stopped, and then continued. “If I knew then what I know now. It was a very perilous position to be in relying on so few. I’ve learned a lot since then.”
Precision Roof Crafters had more work than it could handle at points. Revenue crept up and up with each passing year. However, that pesky bottom-line number never seemed to stabilize. “We had some really good bottom lines, and the next year, not so good,” Hish shared. “We had like three or four years in a row where we just hit a ceiling that we couldn’t break through.”
Looking for Answers
In nothing Hish had done in his life had he accepted mediocrity, the status quo, and he wouldn’t now. He had come too far to reinvent himself to not push harder for answers. “We were working like crazy. I had been using a restaurant model to make this work. But it wasn’t enough. I didn’t know what my materials cost should be, what our labor costs should be, what was a realistic bottom line in this industry. I needed answers,” he explained.
“I hired a consultant. It cost me 33-grand over just one year, and it still didn’t help. I needed someone or something with a construction background,” Hish continued. “That’s when I received an invitation to Profit Day. I was still open-minded, even after this last experience—again, I was seeking knowledge.”
Hish would agree to become a member of Roofers Success International that day in 2007. It proved a pivotal turning point. Hish attacked the challenge of once again reinventing himself, and immediately could see dividends in adopting the RSI model. “Like anything else, you can’t say you’re going to do something and have one foot in and one foot out. You’ll never accomplish anything,” Hish reflected upon his journey. “We jumped in with both feet with our commitment to implement.”
“It all made sense. RSI was doing a lot of what I was doing even then, but they had it put together in a way where it all worked in synchrony. With my background in restaurants, it all made sense. You follow the procedures, go to the training, and execute,” he continued. “Even though RSI was very young at the time, the system made sense. Here we are 13 years later.”
Precision Roof Crafters Thrives Today
The foundation, the system Hish implemented so many years ago, has served Precision Roof Crafters well to this day. Despite a recession, floods, and any myriad of problem that arises with running a business dependent upon people, the company has thrived, hovering between $2.6 Million and $3.5 Million. Mostly importantly, those revenues have come at a strong, steady net profit.
“Those margins are the most important thing, obviously,” Hish said and grinned. “And I really love what I do. I love this business. It’s given us a great lifestyle. We’re blessed more than we deserve.”
“I love working hard because I believe you get rewarded. But there’s such a thing as working hard and working smart. You can do both. I still enjoy doing commercial jobs, and we do them across the country. I love the challenge of putting the proposal together—we always get our margin, mind you—and then traveling all over the country. And I enjoy traveling to Expos. I love to travel in general—it goes back to my restaurant days. Meeting new people, seeing new things, this business has allowed me to do that,” Hish said passionately.
Precision Roof Crafters’ strong operations, supported by Hish’s incredible team, has allowed him the money and time to pursue other interests. “I fulfilled my dream of having a restaurant. That industry will always be my first love. I’m actually partners with my son in it. It’s called District 7 Grill in Midtown Houston,” Hish said. “I also have an important business. I enjoy staying busy.”
What Hish is most passionate today is giving back and helping others. It’s why he stays so active within RSI even all these years later, always willing to call a new member, speak from stage, or serve on the Executive Advisory Board. He wants to help others in the way he’s been helped throughout his career.
“When I was younger, in addition to my dad, I had two mentors that were a godsend. It seemed like some of the things these guys told me, it was like magic. They took an interest in me, and they decided to help me become who I am today—and for no other reason than they like me. I think we all owe it to pay what we’ve been given forward,” Hish said. “If I can help point someone else in the right direction, that’s the most fulfilling thing of all.”
This story was formulated over two interviews with Hish. We talk about the challenges he faced and changes he made with Precision Roof Crafters shortly after joining RSI. We also discussed how he approaches business and managing people in today’s ever-changing environment. And we explored the future of the company, as well as Hish’s future.
- Bob: What were some of the first problems you found in your business after joining RSI, going to Expo, and learning the system?
Hish: I found out that we weren’t charging enough. While we did what we could to regulate our overhead, we didn’t know what our labor and materials should have been for our jobs. And of course, we weren’t charging nearly enough.
- Bob: You increased your pricing, and it caused you to lose clients, correct?
Hish: Yes, that’s correct. Back then, we were 70/30 commercial to residential. One of the things we did early on was drop some of our clients. These were people that helped us early on, but we came to the realization that those clients were the reason our bottom line was so inconsistent. We evaluated every client, and we implemented the right margins that RSI said we should be getting. Of course, those clients said we were too high. That’s when we moved on. In essence, we fired clients. We lost half of our revenue in one year doing that, but it was absolutely worth it in the long run.
- Bob: Increased prices meant you needed to enhance your selling skills. When did you go to your first sales training with SGI?
Hish: We went right away after joining. Back then, it was called Million Dollar Sales Factory. I went to it, along with my guys. If they’re going to learn something, I have to learn it, too. I’ve gone to every single class. You have to inspect what you expect. You have to know what challenges they’ll face, so you can help them. I think we spent $80,000 that first year in training.
I remember going to that first training, and the instructors said that our average visit should take about three hours to sell a replacement. Well, my jaw dropped. I couldn’t imagine being in someone’s house that long. Our previous average visit took about 30 minutes. But we accepted what they told us, learned the system, and it worked immediately.
- Bob: How did that training impact your sales process?
Hish: I thought I was a pretty good salesman before then. I was doing a couple of million dollars a year in sales back then. But I embraced the training we received. I remember the first job I went on after training. Back then, our average roof was around $9,500. I sold that first job for $40,000.
I got to that appointment at 4:30 pm. The customer had just gotten home from work. We sat there and talked. I went through our entire books like we had trained in class. I trusted the system. I had a conversation, got them engaged, asked them open-ended questions, and got them involved in the decision making. I gave them options—they liked that. And they said yes to this $40,000 roof. I remember getting back into my truck after finishing up. It was 7:30 pm. Those three hours just blew by. That first experience made me a believer.
- Bob: On the service side, did you implement StraightForward Pricing® right away?
Hish: Immediately. Before I even went to training. It just made sense. We were doing something similar with our commercial clients. Just didn’t think to do it with residential.
- Bob: Were your people uniformed already?
Hish: Yes. With the background I had, image means so much: clean-shaven, in a pressed uniform with clean shoes and a belt. Image was critical at all the places I had worked at previously.
- Bob: Did you begin doing full inspections on service calls immediately, too?
Hish: We’ve always have done some type of an inspection because we saw ourselves as professionals. I felt like we owed it to our customer to find out exactly what was going on. Then, we shouldn’t come up with a shotgun approach to fixing it—instead, let’s come up with an exact diagnosis. So, we would get into attics and really diagnose what was happening. But we did not do the full safety inspection that we do now. We’ve expanded our inspection. That was very helpful.
- Bob: How about service fees to pay for those inspections? Was that a new concept?
Hish: It was. We never charged one before, but we started doing that almost immediately after coming back from Profit Day.
- Bob: Let’s get back to sales. How do you differentiate Precision Roof Crafters from your competitors?
Hish: One thing that really separates us is we have a foreman on the job from start to finish. This isn’t a crew boss, but a foreman. We have two fulltime foremen, and we have a couple other guys we can call when we need them. So, as soon as the job is assigned, the roofing specialist turns the job folder into production and my administrative production manager. They get the job scheduled, and get materials ordered. They also communicate with the homeowners, notifying them that the job has been received by production—and they give them an approximate window of what week we’ll be there. As it gets closer, we’ll be in touch with the homeowner and to find out what day is best for them.
- Bob: Do you take a deposit to keep the customer locked to you?
Hish: We don’t actually. Going back to my restaurant days, it didn’t make sense to ask for money upfront. If you’re getting a $60 ribeye, the waiter doesn’t ask you for $30 before he can get the kitchen to grill it for you. And when the waiter serves it, he doesn’t ask for the other $30 before you touch it. That model seemed ludicrous to me. I haven’t done anything for these people—why would they give me their money?
I think that’s why we had a lot of success early on. We didn’t ask for money upfront. We want our clients to feel good about choosing and putting their trust in us. It’s why we take the time to build good relationships.
Now, if it is insurance work, we do ask for some money upfront because we found that when it comes to insurance money, people act funny. A lot of people suddenly get that insurance money and find other bills they need to pay. But unless we encounter some specialty roof system where we have to special order materials and there are no returns, we don’t ask for a deposit. And we’ve never had a problem doing that.
Cancellations are something I don’t understand. I hear about them all the time. I could probably count on one hand the number of cancellations we’ve had since we started. We’re not a high-pressure company. So, we very, very rarely deal with anyone who calls with buyer’s remorse.
- Bob: Are you booked out weeks very often?
Hish: It depends. At peak times, we might be three to four weeks out. Generally, if there’s something we can’t get to right away, and they have active leaks, part of the service we provide is we’ll go and do temporary repairs. We’ll make them watertight until we get there. People are appreciative of that. They don’t expect it. And we don’t charge them any extra to do it.
- Bob: Back to your foreman, share with me how they manage the project and the homeowner.
Hish: We have them introduce themselves in the morning. They’re wearing a photo ID, and we use pulseM. So, the customers see a photo of the foreman coming to their home. We explain that he will be overseeing the project, and there is a little bio on the foreman. Ideally, our roofing specialist will make it to the project to introduce everyone, but that can’t always happen. If not, that’s up to the foreman. And he will explain to the homeowners that any questions or concerns they have they can communicate those with him. The foreman is the conduit between the homeowner and the crew.
And the foremen are taking pictures throughout with CompanyCam. He’s also keeping an eye on the crew. We hear from crews all the time: Other roofing contractors don’t ask us to do this or that. We respond, “That’s exactly why we want you to do it this certain way.” Our clients are paying extra for it, though. They deserve it. And we’re paying the crews more to go that extra mile.
- Bob: Does the foreman collect payment?
Hish: No. The foreman will do a final walk-through with the homeowners to make sure everything is good and they’re satisfied. If there are any change orders, like decking repairs or anything that’s an additional line item, we have the roofing specialist come back at the end to collect that payment. I would say over 90 percent of our jobs finish on budget with no change orders. That’s our goal. That’s why we work hard to do our due diligence on the frontend, so it’s in the proposal. If we see bad decking, we’ll put in an allowance for a certain amount. If it exceeds that amount, we let them know it’s going to cost a little extra.
- Bob: Besides having foremen, how else do your roofing specialists differentiate Precision Roof Crafters from others?
Hish: We give a 10-year warranty. That’s something we did before RSI. Most of our competitors give a two to five year. You can get the manufacturer’s lifetime warranty, but that doesn’t really speak to who you are. We tell people we have skin in the game. With us, you don’t have to worry about chasing down the manufacturer and get them to act. We’ll take care of the first 10 years of your roof.
- Bob: I know in talking with you previously, you’re very proud of your team. You credit them for your success. The right team must be comprised of the right people. What’s your recruiting process like?
Hish: We had Ray Seggern from The Brand Guys write recruiting ads for us. Those work really well. And we do group interviews. We’ll schedule up to 12 people at a time, though rarely do they all show up. We talk to them for 15 minutes about who we are, what we do, our business, our culture, our mission and vision, and our core values. We talk about the benefits we offer, and we talk about the expectations we have for them and what they can expect from us. Finally, we tell them if it sounds good, stay in their seat. If not, thank you for coming. We’ll step out of the room for a few minutes to allow people to leave.
We then meet with each person who’s remaining. We ask every person the same 10 questions. It’s meant to be fast—no more than 10 or so minutes. We feel them out. If we like them and want to do a second interview, we will email them a DiSC profile test they can do online. As soon as they complete it, we set up the second interview.
In the second interview, we go over their DiSC profile. We try and find out more about who they are, dig past the surface. In the third interview, they’re meeting with me. I dig into their work history and education. I’ll go all the way back to high school. I want to see how people have evolved, and I want to see what’s important to them. What kind of people have they worked for? What type of environment do they like?
If that interview with me goes well and we want to make an offer, we do the background check and drug screen. Then, we’ll invite them back to do a ride-along. We’ll pay for that time. Just ride with the guys, spend a day with them to see the job. We want to make sure this job is for them. That’s the fourth and final step.
- Bob: What kind of people are you looking for when interviewing?
Hish: Well, they have to be patient, and they have to want the job, to go through four interviews. That’s intentional. We’re also looking for people who are teachable. They’ve been faced with challenges and overcome them. They can think on their feet. And they must have good people skills. The mechanics, the technical skills, we don’t worry about that. We can teach that.
- Bob: After you hire someone, what’s the next step?
Hish: Well, we were so glad when SGI put together the Technician Onboarding and CCR Onboarding programs. Those tools have helped considerably. We’ve adapted it to all positions. They spend one week in the office. Then, they spend a minimum of two days in the field on jobs. We want them to just observe and help, get their hands dirty a bit. We want to make sure they can handle it. And we train every morning. Depending on the day, the training could be 15 minutes to an hour. We have training videos and we have a training facility.
- Bob: Tell me more about your technical-training facility.
Hish: We get our crews together, the in-house guys together, and we’ll tear a roof off. It’s a full-size roof inside our facility. And we’ll re-install the roof. That way, our people get real, technical, hands-on experience. We’ve had this facility for about two and a half years now.
- Bob: How quickly can you have someone running jobs as a roofing specialist?
Hish: Two months. They’ll have done ride-alongs that entire time with our lead guys. They will have been training constantly. We also benefit from having a couple of clients where we do inspections for them. It’s a company that relocates people for major corporations. So, when they relocate someone, they want an inspection done on the roof, so they know when they put the house up for sale, they know its exact condition. With those jobs, we don’t have to deal with the homeowner—they’re great ways to slowly break in new specialists on conducting inspections because they don’t have to answer to anybody. They can take their time walking through every part of the roof.
- Bob: What’s training like for everyone? You do something every morning?
Hish: Yes, every morning. We at least have a 15-minute huddle. We’ll cover topics from the day before where the guys may have had a question. Then, we’ll have production come in and sit for part of it. Then, we’ll all go our separate ways. Production has their own training, which is once a week, where we discuss different technical details. Sales focuses on communication, diagnostics, evaluation, and documentation. For our CCR, she does online training, and she comes into our Monday morning meeting to see what we’re talking about. But most of her training is with our GM.
- Bob: How do you keep people accountable?
Hish: With the SGI Onboarding program, goal-setting starts right away. They set their personal and professional goals in writing. We’ve learned it is up to our management team to help everyone achieve their goals. At Baker Brothers, they call it dream catching. We follow-up with our people periodically to see how they’re doing and how we can help.
- Bob: How have you continued to market and grow the business over the years?
Hish: Networking is big for us. Word of mouth is big for us. A lot of our business comes that way. We’ve had to scale back our marketing because we were getting more calls than we have people to run them. We rely a lot on club memberships and maintenance programs. RSI’s Roofing Rewards dollars have helped us because we do a lot of service work. Then we’ll outbound call those people that we’ve done work for before and remind them that they have that money.
I like to call people who gave their business to someone else in the past—the jobs we lost. Often people aren’t happy with the company they chose; yet, they’re not likely to call you again because they feel bad that they didn’t pick you the first time. We’ll call and say, “Hey, Bob. How are you? We came out in March and looked at your roof. You needed a chimney reflashing. Did you get that taken care of? Oh, you did. You used someone else. I totally understand. We get so many jobs—we understand we can’t service everybody, even though we’d love to. But I just want to let you know that if you ever need our services again, I’d love another opportunity to earn your business. Please, keep us in mind.”
By approaching the call that way, it gives that person permission to call you again. It makes them think, “That other company we used we could never get on the phone. I could never get a question answered. We should have used Precision Roof Crafters in the first place. Yes, they were higher, but at least they’re professional and attentive.” We have won a lot of loyalties over the years by reconnecting with people who chose a competitor first and then regretted it.
- Bob: Where do you see Precision Roof Crafters in the next five to 10 years?
Hish: I would like to service broader areas outside of our immediate market. I would absolutely consider providing opportunities for team members that want to go into business for themselves in roofing, as long as they’re doing it in a different market. Once his last child finishes school in 10 years, my general manager plans on moving to Corpus Christi, Texas, to eventually retire. But he loves the idea of franchising Precision Roof Crafters because he wasn’t sure what he’d do once he got there. Knowing that I can work with him to make that happen makes me happy—he’s been with me for 12 years.
- Bob: What about for yourself, Hish? Any retirement goals in sight?
Hish: I don’t think I would know how to. I love traveling. I love taking my personal time to see what I want to see. I’d like to continue to do that, but I think I need to feel like I’m being productive. Right now, my ideal way of being productive is helping other people better their lives. Bettering your life means different things to different people. What can I do to help you?
I think too many people only look out for themselves. That’s not what built this country. I think life should be about giving back, helping your neighbor, and helping society be better. That’s what I’ve found that I truly enjoy and want to continue to do.