Windows Under The Tree

November 29th, 2011 by DWM Magazine

My first job out of high school was in sales at Sounds Great Inc., a large (say 20 stores) consumer electronics retail chain in New England. This chain existed long before Best Buy. Of course we lived for the holiday season where we would do maybe half our sales for the whole year in five weeks. And we had to truly sell in those days … not just hang out to help customers.

The issue we had, and all retailers had, was that about a week after Christmas sales would fall to almost nothing. January and February were dismal. So you ended up with a seasonal business, not unlike what we see in residential windows in much of the country today. Selling season is March to October and November through February are pretty lousy.

But some brilliant guy at the head office at Sounds Great in 1978 came up with an idea – and it worked. He decided we would have our biggest sale of the year, the steepest discounts, the most loss leaders, the best financing terms, throughout the month of February. We called it “Hot February” and all our ads had flames and fire, etc. We had huge inventory shipments come in and even had the semi’s out front full of inventory (and signage of course). People would wait outside each Sunday morning to catch the lowest cost items before they ran out. People began to wait each year for the Hot February sales. Most important … It worked … and February became a month as big as December. Nice.

So I got to thinking … why does this industry simply live with a terrible four months? Yes … we can’t do the installs in many cases and people are out shopping and celebrating and not thinking about a window purchase. But is that their fault, or ours?

Instead of sitting back and suffering, maybe the industry (or some of us) should have the largest sale of the year say December 1 to January 31. Yes, there are some instances of this here and there, but not much. Make it all about the lowest prices, best discounts, most ads, etc. Call it Hot Winter Windows (or whatever … you get the picture). Make it a point of pride to have windows under the tree. Your neighbors will take advantage of the huge discounts … will you? After two to three years people will come to expect it and, if done right, this would balance out the year’s sales. Yes, installs may have to wait for weather but with the right incentives, consumers will respond.

So rather than dream about it, why not push for “windows under the tree?” What a better gift for a home than energy-saving windows, which they can look forward to having installed by spring. And we can lessen the impact snow has on our business.


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  2. Kevin is on to something here.
    We look at the seasonal nature of the exterior remodeling business like a Dromedary Camel. The sales season has one hump in the middle of the year. The year starts slow and ends even slower. Worse yet, the animal that is our sales season sometimes looks more like a Bactrian Camel with 2 humps. One of the humps we see in the spring and the other one in the fall.
    We have not found a way to compete with Santa Claus and we can’t sell in the dog days of August when people are on vacation or getting kids ready for school. That only leaves a spring season from Saint Patty’s Day to 4th of July and a short fall season from Labor Day to Thanksgiving.
    The goal in our exterior remodeling industry , from as far back as I can remember, has been to even out the year with a high level of sales from New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve. I think Kevin is onto something that the industry could pursue.
    Regardless of the industry at large, I and my company WILL use the idea of “HOT WINTER WINDOWS’ this February. I was looking for a campaign to promote late winter and early spring sales and this is it! I have alraady marked my calendar for a similar campaign starting on Halloween to begin promote “Putting Windows Under the Tree”…
    Thanks Kevin for reminding me there is more than one way to skin a cat… Or a Camel

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