Milanese
by Mark Milanese
April 29th, 2014

Why Confuse the Customer?

Is selling a door or window for the lowest price without regard for energy efficiency or structural strength the best way to get new business? Do we have a responsibility to educate the end-consumer and make it easier to understand door and window test data?

The door and window industry is regulated you’ll spend a fortune for testing of energy efficiency and other important data such as DP Ratings. Those test results clearly show comprehensive and easy-to-understand ways to compare products. We have the ability to easily differentiate the quality of different door and window models with testing that is standardized, regulated and easy for the consumer to understand, yet we choose to complicate the issue. Why?

Is it easier for a salesman to misrepresent the data and compete on price than to honestly educate the consumer how to compare?

Choosing to compete solely on price to increase volume can do irreparable damage to a brand. Selling the lowest strength, lowest energy-efficiency-rated doors and windows at the lowest price may conform to a “planned obsolescence” business model with a quicker need to replace newly purchased products, but the manufacturer of inexpensive, low-quality doors and windows may bankrupt the brand name and make it irrelevant when replacement time comes.

I believe the confusion our industry creates for the consumer is counterproductive. When we grow volume on trickery we may profit in the short term, but customer dissatisfaction will erode confidence and the value of a brand. Honestly educating the consumer about the data available ultimately will allow our industry to provide consumers with the information they need to make decisions that are best for them.

There are so many ways to differentiate and compete in the marketplace, why use the lowest common denominator of price? We can differentiate with warranty, need for warranty, color, aesthetics, functionality and added features. Misrepresenting test results or keeping them top secret from clients to make a cheap window appear to be a good value should not be one of those ways.

Is it worth the time and effort to educate the consumer about the value of energy efficiency and resistance to water penetration and air infiltration?

When we compete on a level playing field, our industry will grow and prosper based on merit. If we continue to make it more difficult for the consumer to understand the energy efficiency and overall strength of door and window products we should be prepared for additional governmental regulations to dictate consumer protection from misinformation.

Perhaps it is better to make the end-consumers completely aware of regulated test results that give them the ability to compare door and window quality for their purchase.

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2 comments
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  1. I certainly can appreciate what you have said about making it easier for the end user to compare test results. I am a door fabricator, what I don’t appreciate is trickle down of paying duplicate costs for publishing reports again and performing simulations on manufactures components. This also adds to the cost of my entry doors. I’ve been in the door fabrication business for 25 years, for the most part it’s a component business for fabricators. I purchase from reputable manufacturers of these components and if they have done the testing I don’t know why I have to pay to have their reports in my business’ name. I don’t see Energy Star and / or NFRC doing any public service advertising to educate the public on window and door energy efficiency and the added DP ratings. If the government is regulating to protect the end user, then they must making a lot money off the duplication of of test results with the fees that are charged, at least for door fabricators. I know it’s different for window manufacturers.

  2. Rick Ehrhard you are right.
    Government regulations require expensive testing. It isn’t fair that duplicate testing is required to make it even more expensive for the manufacturer and, ultimately, the end consumer.
    But if we as an industry don’t do a better job of educating the end-consumer honestly about our products’ energy efficiency and weather resistance the government will impose even more regulations upon us.

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