Lakefront Roofing Supply has been exceeding the expectations of Chicago area roofing companies since their inception in 1985. The team started out as a small roofing company themselves before quickly realizing the positive impact they could have on their roofing community by reimagining their business as a supplier instead.
Now, after nearly 40 years in the business, Lakefront not only sells roofing supplies, but they’re the go-to for many regional contractors for siding, and they also manufacture products like commercial gutters, copings, flashings, and many other architectural sheet metal products.
A Mission-Based Business
Lakefront is dedicated to giving back to their community. They are owned by a church organization in the area and much of their income goes to help those less fortunate. Lakefront is one of the largest supporters to Cornerstone Community Outreach, which provides shelter and services to homeless and low-income families and individuals.
In addition to supporting charitable organizations, Lakefront is also committed to serving the Chicago area roofing community through their Lakefront University program, offering free classes to contractors on everything from on-the-job skills to business best practices.
A Changing Takeoff Process
About 20 years ago, Lakefront decided to start doing complimentary takeoffs for customers to provide estimates. Chris Spicer, Sales Manager at Lakefront, has been there since the beginning. He taught himself how to measure off blueprints, working with an architecture scale and squares.
Once blueprints weren’t paper any longer and plans began to come digitally, Chris says it just got harder and harder because things were never to scale. He cobbled together a process where he had to print plans, take them to the copy machine, and make 10 or so copies until he was able to get them to scale, and then resume his original paper takeoff.
Shouldn't Digital Plans Be Better?
Something that should have made things easier – digital plans – in fact made the entire workflow cumbersome and time-consuming, sometimes taking up to two weeks to complete takeoffs for customers.
“Doing takeoffs is not my main job,” Chris explains. He’s a sales manager who works with customer orders in addition to supporting his entire sales team. Takeoffs were happening after hours, and he often had to refuse requests from customers. He’d have to ask them to do it themselves, or require that they send a blueprint that was already to scale, which they couldn’t easily do.
The Need for a New Workflow
Not only was this an inconvenience and time waster for Chris himself, but with so many contractors as potential repeat customers, having a first interaction be an unwillingness to help wasn’t good for business. One of the biggest business challenges faced by independent suppliers like Lakefront is the difficulty of competing with big box stores and home centers, and often exceptional customer service is the only way to stand out.
And it’s not just about profits. From Lakefront’s very start, a big reason they become so successful was their commitment to working with contractors of any size to bring them service and partner with them. This dedication includes all of the training in their Lakefront University, but also doing the takeoff for the customer and helping them figure out the right way to order the right materials just makes sense. To be unable to offer this vital service to customers just didn’t sit right with Chris.
It was clear that Lakefront desperately needed an onscreen takeoff tool.
STACK Is the Clear Solution
On a referral from others in the industry, Lakefront gave STACK a try. After just a couple of days of experimenting with a free account, Chris says he and his team knew it was exactly what they needed.
Lakefront purchased licenses for their sales team, a total of 4 users, although Chris does the majority of the takeoffs. “STACK is amazing,” he says. “Every time I use it, I figure out something new to do, like copying windows, and it blows my mind. It saves a ton of time.”
"It Doesn't Compare" to the Old Way
“What I can get done in a STACK takeoff in an hour and a half, would have probably taken a couple of days to do before,” Chris says. “It’s like how much time you’d save if you changed from bringing material to a jobsite with a bicycle to a truck with a forklift on the back! It doesn’t compare. It’s amazing the amount of time you save. And you have that peace of mind that your work is a lot more accurate.”
Chris says in the past he would always pad the orders significantly because you don’t know when you’re missing something, but with STACK you know your takeoff is much more precise.
Another advantage is being able to easily add in missing materials. For example, Chris has caught parapet walls on a project that would need siding but that were not indicated on the plans, as well as a detached garage with only 3 walls indicated on the plans. With STACK, he can simply draw another wall to get an accurate takeoff.
Focusing on the Mission
Having the ability to so quickly and accurately perform takeoffs has allowed Chris and his team to focus more on what counts for Lakefront: providing phenomenal service to contractors who are not just customers but friends, and increasing profits so they can continue their mission of giving back to their community.