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Customer Complaints? How to Overcome & Prevent Them in Roofing Sales!

Angry customers and customer complaints — they are BRUTAL to deal with.

And the worst part is they are completely inevitable.

They’re going to happen, no matter what. Sometimes, they’re small complaints that are really no big deal, like a falling shingle ripped a screen. It’s only a few dollars to fix, no one’s hurt, and it’s no big deal.

Other times, though, something horrible happens, like the wind rips a tarp off during a re-deck, and rain pours into a house for an hour, ruining everything. That’s a true story, by the way (I’ll pick it back up here in a second).

The point is that these mistakes, no matter how big or how small they are, come up. For folks like you and I, who truly care about our customers and want to give them an amazing experience, we’re not just in this to make a good living. We also believe in what we do, and we believe in delivering exceptional service.

Now, these customer complaints can hit home. They can be hard to cope with, especially for newer roofing sales reps and growing teams. And these complaints can distract us and really freak us and our crew out.

So, I’m going to teach you:

  1. How to deal with customer complaints when they come up
  2. How to turn those complaints into 5-star reviews
  3. How to prevent customer complaints

Welcome or welcome back, by the way. My name is Adam Bensman, The Roof Strategist. Everything I do here (and on my YouTube channel, Instagram, and my podcast on Apple and Spotify) is designed to help you and your team at smash your income goals and give every customer an amazing experience.

And, yes, customer complaints DO come up. Things don’t always go right.

But when you handle those complaints the RIGHT way, it can create an amazing experience. And the way we handle those complaints can really set us apart.

Turning Customer Complaints into Rave Reviews: Personal Story #1

I’ve told this story before, but I’m going to share it again because it really hits home with this topic.

My wife, Sheena, and I were shopping for a vehicle. We had a HORRIBLE experience at this car dealership.

We found a used vehicle that we wanted, and we went down there to look at it. It was filthy — nothing like the pictures we had been looking at.

So, I turn to Paul, the sales rep, and I say:

Paul, you completely wasted my time.

We just drove an hour and a half to get here, and this vehicle is in horrendous condition.

Every other vehicle is pristine, and this one looks TERRIBLE. I’m NOT interested.

As we’re going to leave, Paul says, “Wait, give us an hour to get this cleaned up for you. Go out to lunch, and we’ll get it all cleaned up for you.” So, we go out to lunch and come back an hour. And it was like getting a slap in the face. They didn’t clean the vehicle, and they didn’t care. They burned our time.

That’s when I turned to the sales rep and said:

Paul, we came down here already, and you had us spend even more time here.

This is an INSULT!

Then, I shared the experience I had buying my last vehicle at their competitor, and Paul felt horrible.

At that point, Sheena and I stormed out. As we got to the front door, Paul flies out and starts apologizing. He took ownership of the situation, and I called him 15 minutes later. He gave us a sincere apology, and he was committed to making it right.

And guess what? He went above and beyond.

That made us do a complete 180 — we went from NOT wanting to do business with them at all and wanting to write a horrible review to buying the vehicle and being VERY happy with how they handled it and what they did for us.

I even ended up writing them a 5-star review, acknowledging what didn’t do right and explaining how they were committed to making it right.

That’s the power of handling things the RIGHT way, taking ownership, and laying out a clear path forward. I’ll explain how to do all of that here, in this blog.

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How to Handle Customer Complaints & Get Great Reviews: Personal Story #2

Customer complaints are inevitable. They’re going to happen. So, let’s first look at how to prevent customer complaints. Then, we’ll address how to overcome them. And I’m going to return to the story I opened with (about the fly-away tarp and downpour into a customer’s home).

One of my reps, Joe, was doing a re-deck on an old, 2-story Victorian home. There were multiple layers of shingles on top of shake, which required a re-deck, and there was no weird weather in the forecast. So, the crew got everything torn off. There was no decking whatsoever.

Suddenly, rain clouds come in, so they tarp everything. Then, the wind kicks up. They’re on ladders, two stories up, trying to get this tarp to stay down, when BOOM, lightning strikes. They can’t be on ladders in a lightning storm, so they scrambled down to their truck just as the skies opened up with a fury of rain.

It lasted for about an hour, pouring straight into the home that had NO tarp on it. Adding insult to injury, all the flooring was hard wood.

That’s when my phone rings and I get the second hardest phone call I’ve gotten in business. I hear this homeowner, smoke detectors, and all of this noise in the background. And the rep, Joe, says:

Adam, I think you need to get out here. We’ve got water pouring through the house absolutely everywhere.

The roof’s torn off, it’s pouring rain, and everything is drenched.

I am FREAKING out.

The REAL challenge here was the fact that those hardwood floors were warped. Every single surface of that home was wet.

How did we handle it? We had to:

  • Move the homeowners out of their house for 6 to 8 weeks
  • Bring in dehumidifiers
  • Hire a restoration company
  • Do the dry out and repaint
  • Refinish the floorings

And guess what? There was not one legal threat.

In fact, I received a letter of recommendation from this homeowner because of how we handled the project. And they said that they wouldn’t hesitate to hire us again in the future or refer us to a friend because of our commitment to standing behind what we do — and because they realized it was a freak accident.

How to Prevent Customer Complaints in Roofing Sales

Preventing customer complaints starts by setting realistic expectations.

We recently talked about this in the Pitch Pro Movement, and I said the classic “under promise and overdeliver” line.

And one of the other mentors, Marcos, challenged that. He said, “I really don’t like that ‘under promise and overdeliver’ because why should we under promise? We should just give amazing service, promise at a really high level, and deliver above and beyond that.”

That’s the beauty of the movement, and it’s why we have a discussion board and encourage everyone to participate.

So, the core concept of under promise and overdeliver is NOT to say something like this:

Mr. Homeowner, I’m going to make sure EVERYTHING goes off perfectly.

Nothing is going to go wrong.

We’re going to start on time, we’re going to end on time, and you’re going to have ZERO complaints.

That’s a LIE.

Even though you mean well and you want everything to go perfectly, there’s a lot that’s out of your control. You can’t control the material delivery, if the supplier shows up at the wrong house, or whether the shingles are dropped off in the wrong spot.

The point is this — BAD things can happen, and there are things that are beyond your control.

Instead, we want to:

  1. Under promise or promise at a really high level
  2. Deliver at an even higher level — This is key.

Roofing Sales Script: How to Set Realistic Expectations with the Homeowner

What I like to do — and what I recommend doing, especially if you’re a new roofing sales rep — is to explain to that homeowner that something likely WILL go wrong.

Here’s how I do it:

Hey, Peggy, guess what? We are going to do the absolute very best we can to protect your home and take care of you.

That said, there’s TONS of debris going up on the roof and coming off of it.

And even though we’re as careful as we can be and we’ve done thousands of roofs, there’s a chance that something won’t go right.

Now, I don’t want you to panic. The reason I’m telling you this that is my company and I are committed to making things right.

So, if you see ANYTHING, you’ve got my card, and I want you to call me RIGHT AWAY, so I’m aware of it. Then, I can put together an action plan to get it addressed ASAP.

Now, of course, this does NOT happen on every job. Many jobs go off without a hitch.

But if it does, I just want you to know we have your back.

That’s how you set realistic expectations. You under promise. And if the job goes great, the homeowner is going to be blown away because you did better than they expected.

After all, what’s the best review ever?

It’s one that describes an experience that’s BETTER than expected. It’s NOT a review that says, “Well, they told me they’d do this, and they didn’t do it.” In fact, that’s the number one thing you hear with complaints — they didn’t follow through on their word. They didn’t do what they said they would do.

With this method, though, you can:

  1. Set realistic expectations.
  2. Tell the homeowner that something could go wrong.
  3. Overdeliver.

What If Something DOES Go Wrong?

Do you think that homeowner is going to panic if something doesn’t go as planned?

They won’t panic because they’ll think:

Adam told me this might happen.

I’m upset. I’m upset that the screen’s ripped or the flowers are messed up, but Adam said he’d take care of it.

So, we’re going to give him a shot. I don’t need to panic.

Now, when you get that phone call, it’s not (always) hysterical. And you’re going to be in a WAY better position than if you had said nothing at all.

So, here’s the biggest takeaway so far — set realistic expectations.

How to Overcome Customer Complaints in Roofing Sales

Let’s lay out the foundation and framework for this first. Then, I’ll share a quick story with you.

First, we need to LISTEN when hear a customer complain. That means we need to:

  • Pay attention when homeowners yell at us.
  • Keep our mouth shut and let them get it out.
  • Wait until they run out of breath, no matter how long it takes.

This is how you show them that you are listening.

You don’t want to be like, “No, no, no, no. Don’t worry. Don’t worry. Don’t worry. We’re going to take care of it.”

Do NOT do that. Let them yell. Let them call you all the names in the book. They just HAVE to get it out, and we HAVE to listen.

Second, we need to CARE.

By the way, if you don’t have a heart and you don’t genuinely care, now is a really good time for you to exit the roofing sales business.


Because if you don’t care about your customers and you’re only in this for the money, it WILL come back to bite you. Instead, you have to have heart and show that you truly care about the customer experience. Homeowners need to feel that.

Finally, we need to commit to an action plan. That means committing to fixing the problem and explaining how you’re going to do that. So, this is all the foundation.

A Powerful Roofing Sales Strategy to Overcome Complaints: The ARO Formula

Now, I want to circle back to the story I opened this blog with — the true story of my customer, let’s call her Peggy, whose home was destroyed by rain after a tarp was ripped off her roof mid-job.

By the way, I share this story in more depth in my all-in-one sales training, sales strategy, and sales system, the Roofing Sales Success Formula & Complete Sales Strategy. It’s a complete system, from knock to close, for both storm and retail roofing sales. It’s being used by thousands of reps across the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

This system teaches the ARO Objection Handling Formula, which I created to handle my own bad customer experiences. Here’s what ARO stands for:

  • Acknowledge
  • Reassure
  • Overcome

I want to show you how to apply this on a customer service level, so back to Peggy and destroyed home. It was a complete nightmare. There was almost $75k to $80k in the damage, and Peggy had to be relocated.

So, here’s what I did:

  1. I acknowledged the problem: I said, “Peggy, oh my gosh. I do NOT blame you for being mad. This is a horrible situation. Your roof is not there, and there’s water everywhere. If I were you, I’d be upset too.”
  2. I reassured Peggy: I said, “Peggy, no matter what it takes, we are going to make this right for you. I’m going to make sure that you’re as comfortable as possible. And I hope that you’re in as good or better condition when we’re done.”
  3. I overcame her complaint: I said, “Peggy, here’s what we’re going to do.” This is where I made the commitment. And I did two other important things — I followed up with her, and I set her expectations for next steps.

Breaking this down a bit more, with the ARO Formula, you want to:

  1. Acknowledge: This is simply repeating the problem back to the homeowner. It can go something like, “What I’m hearing is you’re really upset because we started late or things aren’t going as planned.” Just acknowledge their concerns.
  2. Reassure: This is you stating your commitment to make things right. It’s showing that you care and you’re committed to doing right by them.
  3. Overcome: This is the solution you offer to get past the issue.

How to “Solve” the Complaint: Ask One Key Question

Now, when we’re trying to overcome the complaint and solve the problem, we can ask homeowners one really powerful question — How can I make this right?

Often, their first response is going to be a lot less than you think. It might even be more advantageous to you, but it doesn’t matter. It’s about what they want, and you need to give them the opportunity to lay that path out.

So, how can I make this right? They’re probably going to say something like:

I don’t care about the money. All I want is the project done.

I don’t care about anything. I just want $60 to go buy a new rose bush (or whatever).

Again, to truly overcome the complaint and make the homeowner happy, you’re going to need to:

  1. Ask them how you can make it right.
  2. Explain what you’re going to do next to find a solution.
  3. Let them know what to expect in terms of follow-up going forward.
  4. Follow up exactly how you say you will.

By following this framework and asking how you can make it right:

  • The homeowner will speak first, before you do
  • They’ll often give you the answer and tell you precisely how to solve the problem. In a way, we’re using sales here to overcome the complaint.

How to Use the ARO Formula to Overcome Customer Complaints: An Example

I’m going to share another example, a true story, here to show you how to use the ARO Formula to overcome a real-world customer complaint.

A customer (“Carla”) calls up and tells me that a rare bush in front of her house was ruined. Debris had squished it, and Carla was really upset. I don’t blame her, by the way. I love my landscaping too. And if I had a really rare bush I cared about, I’d be upset too.

When she called, here’s how the conversation went:

Me: Carla, I’m REALLY sorry that we squished your very rare shrub.

I want you to know that we will do WHATEVER it takes to make this right for you. This is your property, and it shouldn’t have happened (I acknowledged the problem and reassured her).

How can I make this right for you? (I asked about a solution.)

Carla: All I need is $120 to get a new shrub to replace the one that was destroyed.

Me: Great! $120 for a plant? No problem, it can be done (Things happen, and it’s the cost of doing business).

Carla, if I can get a credit applied to your account or get you a gift card, would that put you at ease and get this problem solved for you?

Carla: Yes!

At this point, I:

  1. Make that commitment to Carla and tell her exactly what’s going to happen next.
  2. Follow through on my commitment to Carla and deliver on my promise.

Recap: How to Prevent & Overcome Customer Complaints in Roofing Sales

By following this framework, your customers are going to feel heard and cared for, and they’re going to know that you have their best interest at heart.

Now, you’re armed with a very simple 2-step strategy for preventing and overcoming customer complaints.

Those steps are to:

  1. Set realistic expectations right out of the gate: If you do, people won’t immediately panic when things come up. And you may be able to prevent complaints.
  2. Acknowledge, reassure, and ask how you can fix it: If complaints do come up, use the ARO Objection Handling Formula to overcome them. And remember to ask the key question, “How can I make this right?”

Get More Roofing Sales Strategies, Tips & Videos

If you want more on overcoming objections, closing, or other roofing sales topics, check out my all-in-one sales training, sales strategy, and sales system, the Roofing Sales Success Formula & Complete Sales Strategy. This exclusive program covers everything from knock to close. If you have questions, just call or text (303) 222-7133 for more info.

You can also subscribe for the latest roofing sales training videos and/or get a copy of my Pitch Like a Pro roofing sales training video library. It includes every roofing sales video I’ve ever done, organized by category, along with a bunch of tips, tricks, and more. It’s great for new people and seasoned veterans, and it’s updated all the time to help you and your team smash your income goals and give every customer an amazing experience.

And don’t forget to check out my Marketing Battle Pack for instant access to 70+ pieces of my proven, turnkey roofing sales and marketing materials. It’s an entire suite, specially designed for sales teams, managers, and owners, providing:

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It’s affordably priced and comes with a 100% money-back guarantee. There’s also a playlist of instructional videos in there, explaining every single thing. So, you can watch the videos, and you’ll know exactly what to do.

Thanks for joining me, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the next blog.