Collins Presents Latest Market Data and Survival Tactics

April 17th, 2012 by DWM Magazine

Michael Collins, managing director, building products group, at Jordan, Knauff and Co., gave two presentations at Fenestration Day, held last week in San Antonio, Texas. The first was geared toward manufacturers and detailed the latest merger and acquisition numbers as well as future projections. His presentation toward dealers focused on meeting challenges head on and how to survive a challenging market—good advice for any door and window company.

Regarding mergers and acquisitions for door and window manufacturers, 326 transactions have occurred since 2000, 75 percent of which he characterizes as strategic and 25 percent financial. The amount of expansions and plant closures are nearly the same—77 expansions from 2006-2012 and 74 plant closures in that same time period.

The amount of company closures has slowed considerably since 2008 and 2009, which is good news. Thus far in 2012 only one company was purchased and one closed.

Door and window dealers are looking for ways to thrive in this current market and Collins gave them some ideas on how to do just that.

“Be a problem solver, not just a seller of products,” said Collins. “Also, don’t make your customers wonder about delivery dates, delays, etc.”

He also encouraged companies to stay up-to-date on current and pending legislation and requirements that can ultimately lead to sales, citing the $1,500 tax credit as an example.

“Know the lead paint requirements cold,” said Collins. “Don’t fight the regulations, get out ahead of them. The homeowner will look to you for assurance that the new rules won’t be a hassle for them.”

He also talked about the decision making responsibilities at respective door and window retailers and remembering to keep in close contact with the customer.

“Make sure that key decision makers are highly accessible to customers,” said Collins. “Never make customers feel that you’re hiding behind a bureaucracy.”

The importance of customer feedback cannot be overstated, said Collins.

“Compare your own offerings with that of competitors and study why customers buy from you instead. Ask your customers why they buy from you.”

Companies that know the most about their customers, what they want and what they think of the company, are those who conduct surveys, according to Collins. This is key to understanding a company’s place in the market.

Collins also talked to attendees about the importance of hiring exceptional employees. A company is only as good as its key people and sometimes that may mean looking to a competitor or a company that has closed.

“Look for managers, manufacturers’ representatives and other sales professionals that may have been displaced by a company closing or a merger of a company,” said Collins. “Your competitors will employ this technique even if you don’t.”

Another key area for dealers is constantly acquiring new leads. “Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals,” said Collins. “Make requesting referrals part of the process of completing a job.”

He also encouraged window companies to take a close look at their own operations with a critical eye.

“Open your website and look at it from the perspective of a potential customer,” said Collins. Look at your showroom in the same way. Is it helping or hurting?”

Don’t forget that it is the little things that matter, he reminded attendees.

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