This is a week to reflect and give thanks. Nearly all of my customers are reporting a year of strong sales growth. In fact, the majority are insanely busy right now. Remodeling activity is very strong and new construction is making a modest comeback. Door and window manufacturers are quite optimistic about the next few years ahead. Many are investing in new hires, upgraded equipment and software to make their companies more efficient and competitive in the years ahead. Some are looking at switching to entirely new window platforms to ensure that their company retains a leading edge status as new Energy Star requirements are on the horizon. It is a completely different landscape in the door and window industry compared to what we saw when the historic downturn came upon our industry. The memory of what that was like will not soon be forgotten, so it is time to be very thankful that our industry and economy are doing so much better.

None of this would be possible if it were not for our customers. So let us also be thankful for them and show them our appreciation. Oftentimes, we focus so hard on gaining new business that we can easily forget about taking care of the loyal customers who are responsible for our current business.

One of my customers told me a joke once that was funny but at the same time caused me to think:

A guy met his end and was reporting to the Pearly Gates but his room wasn’t quite ready. While he was in the waiting room, he peeked inside heaven and saw many peaceful souls laying on clouds, reading books and pondering. He was next greeted by an angel, who welcomed him, but told him that his room wasn’t quite ready.

“Well I hope it is worth the wait here!” he exclaimed.

The angel said, “Well, while you are waiting, you are always welcome to take the elevator down to the bottom floor and check out the alternative. You can always get a room down there if you want but there is no coming back! Once you choose, you choose for good.”

So the guy thought, ‘Well what do I have to lose? I might as well check it out.’ So he got in the elevator and went down to the bottom floor. The doors opened and the Devil greeted him. He stepped out of the elevator to see many souls having a great time! They were dancing, drinking, smoking fat Cuban cigars, playing poker, etc.

“So, what do you think?” says the Devil.

The guy says, “Well I have to admit, it seems like this place has been getting a bum rap all these years. It sure looks like a great place!”

“Well, if you decide to join us, we will be here and we will welcome you with open arms,” says the Devil. “We sure hope you will join our team!” So the guy stepped back into the elevator and goes back up to the top floor. The angel greeted him with good news. His room was now ready! “Not so fast,” he says to the angel. “I really liked what I saw downstairs!”

The angel said, “Well like I said, the choice is yours. You won the right to choose, but there is no coming back!”

The guy then said, “Well no hard feelings, angel, but I think I will join the fun souls downstairs!” So he took the elevator back down to the bottom floor. This time the doors open and he was once again greeted by the Devil, who pulled him out of the elevator just as the doors behind him slammed and melted shut. This time, he was immediately overcome with a suffocating heat wave that felt as though it was 1,000 degrees! He looked around to see the same souls as before, but this time they were in complete misery. They were carrying bricks of mortar, walking on hot cinders and suffering from open wounds. There was no food or drink in sight. Many were on fire, and they are all were in complete agony.

“Oh my God! What is going on? This is not what I saw before? This is not what I signed up for! This is totally different! Where is that wonderful place I saw before?” The Devil’s answer? “Well, before you were a prospect. This time, you’re a customer!”

Well, one thing is for certain. Unlike the poor guy in this story, our customers do have the ability to change their minds about who they go with for business, and it is ten times harder to win back a lost customer than it is to win a new one in the first place.

So during this time of Thanksgiving and reflection, let’s all make sure to thank our customers for their business. And as we look at the year ahead, let’s think about what changes we can make to our business that can take their satisfaction the next level. After all, their success is our success!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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