Milanese
by Mark Milanese
October 7th, 2013

Should Women Sell Doors and Windows?

“Breaking the Door and Window Glass Ceiling” caused controversy all across North America. My article about door and window executives hiring more women for sales and marketing may not be as important as the latest Washington crisis, but it blew up my phone, filled my inbox with mail and even prompted people to visit me in person to tell me what they were thinking. Here are some of the unbelievable reasons they said women shouldn’t sell doors and windows…

“We tried hiring a woman salesperson, but they ended up getting pregnant,” was one.

“They weren’t willing to travel,” was another.

“They spent too much time involved with their kids,” was also said.

There were worse comments that I’ll leave to your imagination…

There were positive reactions to the notion of introducing women into the door and window sales force, too.

Mike Valiant Jr. of Valiant Home Remodeling in Carteret, N.J., commented on Facebook, “I’ve been saying this for 20 years! More than 80 percent of our sales are based on a woman’s decision and on the senior end it’s even higher. A woman sales person (who knows the product) will identify with the woman and … Money in the Bank!”

Al Dueck, president of Duxton Windows and Doors out of Winipeg, Canada, e-mailed to remind me there have been women in the industry for quite a while. He cited Susan Marvin, president of Marvin Windows and Doors and Judy Gorski, CEO at Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co. as prime examples.

I suggested there may be some nepotism involved in those examples and, besides, I was really referring to women working in the marketing department and as dealer sales reps for manufacturers and for in-home sales representatives for installation companies.

He gave me another example. It was one of his most successful customers, Brako Building Concepts of Manitoba, where the top salesperson, Anita Kovacs, is also the wife of the owner and founder. “Anita is quite enjoying her role and finding it is an advantage to enter the window replacement process from a woman’s point of view.”

Finally, he told me about his daughter, Aynsley, marketing manager for Duxton Windows and Doors – his own company.

Here is my unsolicited advice to him…

Mr. Dueck,

As the president of Duxton Windows and Doors, I am sure you are a very savvy and smart business person. Bringing your daughter on board as marketing manager proves you are also “ahead of the curve.” I hope you will not be offended, but may I be so bold as to offer you some advice?

As a member of the second generation of a reasonably successful exterior remodeling company I needed to learn a lot of things they did not teach at school if I was going to have a chance of succeeding in the real world. I would suggest your daughter may also need special training and that a well-rounded experience may improve her ability to market doors and windows. Here is my advice about the kinds of experiences that may allow your daughter to make the biggest impact in her role as marketing manager for your company:

First of all, if your daughter has not already done so, please make sure she has a thorough “hands-on” education about doors and windows. Offer her training about the technical aspect of your product by working on the assembly line, participating in research and development meetings and going out on end-consumer service calls. She should get AAMA Installation Master certified and go out on installations, to understand processes better. Make sure she operates and cleans your windows. Let her “live” with your door and window products.

Next, show her the best use of product by visiting and talking with your dealers. Ask your dealers to show her their best installations, so she can better understand how adding light, view, ventilation and egress can change the lifestyle of your end consumer. Hopefully, they will share their thoughts about your product – and the competition’s – with her. Make sure she talks with the homeowner – especially the female head of household – where your product is used. If she asks good questions and listens closely to the consumer, she will find out why they wanted new doors and windows and why they chose yours, as well as the best and worst aspects of their experience with your product…

I believe these types of encounters would improve anyone’s ability to market product and your daughter will be better able to bring your product to the marketplace by going through this process because her experience provided her with knowledge. She will know the strengths of your product, weaknesses that need improvement and what makes the heart of the end consumer pulse.

And then…

Then you will face the most difficult time for any parent bringing their offspring into their business.

Then, you must be willing to listen to your daughter’s ideas for changes to product and marketing tactics. If you have done your job well, her ideas will be good ones. Consider her counsel wisely and do what she suggests…

Mr. Dueck responded good naturedly to my advice. He told me his daughter was “determined to learn the business from a pretty intensive point of view. She went to a dealer sales call (with a woman sales rep) to a door replacement situation this very morning. She also has a strong post secondary education and pretty strong leadership possibilities, so we’ll see where this journey goes.”

He continued to tell me, “I’m a very lucky father”…

I agree with Al Dueck. He is a very lucky father. He is lucky for having a daughter who is really learning the business and he is a lucky business person for having a marketing manager who is going to make a huge difference for Duxton Windows and Doors. I wish Al and Aynsley good luck and thank you all for reading.

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3 comments
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  1. Sound advice you gave to Al. Seems it would apply to sons, nieces, nephews and a few other family members, too!

  2. Good comments by Al, Mike V. and others. The comments about the power of female homeowners in the final w+d buying decision is valid (just take a look at Pinterest demographics as a tell-tale), but it does not stop there. The interior design industry is predominantly female. Most hotel design chiefs are ladies. Although not dominant, there are plenty of female architects – around 20% of the total in the US – with a higher concentration in luxury segments. (And higher percentages in arch school enrollment). My guess is that LEED APs are near 50-50 male-female. Women hold many of the top editorial positions in shelter magazines (in fact, the publisher of Dwell is a she) – key decision influencers for our industry.

    When Volvo put a hole in their headrests (for pony tails) they sold a lot of soccer moms station wagons. Having female influence in your design group; in sales; in marketing; is smart. Feminine influence in fenestration is well established – it’s more than just hit or miss. Or Ms.

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