If you think back to the formative years of vinyl windows in the U.S., we had our share of performance challenges to overcome. Particularly in hot climates like Florida or Arizona, weathering and yellowing due to high temperatures and UV exposure were major issues that caused some significant degradation and product deformation. These issues put a stain on the industry, especially considering vinyl technology was just emerging. Property owners interested in using the new products had some serious reservations due to testimonials from those early adopters.
You don’t have to wander far to hear positive sentiments about the immediate future of our industry. For instance, Window & Door’s 2018 Industry Pulse notes that the majority of manufacturers, suppliers and dealers expect sales to increase throughout the year. Meanwhile, the Pulse reported that 83 percent of the industry plans to hire this year, despite our ongoing struggles with finding the right talent to fill those roles.
Window and door dealers are a product-focused bunch—and why wouldn’t we be? Manufacturer training and new innovative products are important parts of our world. We have to know how products will perform, compare and behave.
However, this focus can lead us astray, causing us to ask the wrong questions at crucial times. One recent concept I read, from the book “The Innovator’s Solution,” suggests we ask the question, “What job is my client looking to fill?” Let’s take a fictional example to see how this might work in our world.
Video is not a fad. It is no longer a “nice-to-have” addition to your business. Video is highly relevant now and it is the key to the future.
Consider that, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2016–2021, “every second, a million minutes of video content will cross the [global internet] by 2021.” Those that want to stand out from competitors must integrate video into sales and marketing pipelines.
Window Safety Week, held next week, is observed to heighten the awareness of what parents and caregivers should do to help keep their family and visitors safer from the risks of window falls or injuries in their home, as well as how they can use their windows for emergency escape and rescue purposes.
I realize that, as fenestration dealers and manufacturers, you are not in the business of writing headlines, but in the business of providing excellent window and door products and services. Regardless, in this digital age, all businesses must focus strongly on how they market themselves online. While many companies choose to delegate the responsibility of website content creation to a staff member or freelance writer, it is important to know how content affects your bottom line.
The economy is hot, construction is healthier than it has been for many years, and window and door dealers are running faster than ever. This business activity is welcome—most of us remember the vacuum sound that started in 2007-2008 and continued for years. So yes—bring it! However, many of the dealer owners we work with are working 70-hour weeks to keep up.
In the early stages of any industry, innovation is active. The winners are those who tightly integrate design, production, sales and marketing. Take the auto industry as an example: because the products (cars) were not quite good enough and needed constant improvement, proprietary integration allowed leaders to create better and more reliable vehicles. After some decades, owners could rely on buying great autos from many brands and the commoditization of the industry was in full swing, giving us the plethora of brands we have today, and pushing out the Oldsmobiles of the market.
Not long ago, I was on a call with a potential client who was lamenting the fact that he didn’t have enough leads in his business. “Once I get in front of them, we can close the sale,” he told me. “But getting in front of them—that is the issue.” Some variation on that theme is one of the three most consistent complaints I hear about growing businesses.
Windows, doors and skylights sometimes fall under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act’s definition of consumer goods, and other times they do not. Magnuson-Moss is a federal statutory scheme that mandates certain requirements for written warranties.
It provides, in part, that the “warrantor” (party giving a warranty for a product) may not make conditions in a written or implied warranty that consumers must use only parts or service identified by brand, trade, or corporate name—i.e., “authorized parts.” If the consumer or her agent is buying the windows, the statute likely applies.