Golden Rule

July 15th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Nothing impacts sales more than how you treat your customers

With predictions for changing markets and ongoing labor shortages looming, one might expect growth among door and window companies to be tepid in 2019. Not so, suggests [DWM]’s findings. Sales have increased among the industry’s fast-growing dealers. Thanks to data gleaned from the research division of [DWM]’s parent company, Key Media & Research, and nominations received from the magazine’s readers, we found no shortage of fast-growing dealers to consider for the eighth edition of this report. In the process, several common threads emerged, including respectful, low-pressure sales tactics, full in-house services (including financing and installation) and a philosophy that calls for treating every job and customer as equal opportunities—no matter the size of the order.

Maui Windows and Doors

Wailuku, Hawaii | www.mauiwindowsanddoors.com

“Do you know how you become a millionaire in the door and window business? You start out as a billionaire,” jokes Andrew Keenan, Maui Windows and Doors’ president and owner.

Don’t let the sense of humor or the remote and laid-back location fool you: With no neighboring markets to rely on for additional demand and through just a single location, Maui Windows and Doors managed to increase its revenues by 63% over the course of just one year—going from $2.6 to $4.3 million. In 2019, Keenan expects his company to double its annual revenues to around $8 million. The sky is the limit, he says, but, “I guess I didn’t imagine though that I would be at the $5 million mark looking at $10 million.”

No. of Locations: 1
Brands: AAW Inc., Albertini, Andersen, Arcadia Custom, Borano, Buffelen, Eco, LaCantina, Loewen, Milgard, Rogue Valley Door, Peerless, Ply Gem, Simpson, Western Window Systems
Installation: In-house (15 installers)
Sales Stats (Doors and Windows):
2017: $2.6 M
2018: $4.8 M
2019 (projected): $8 M

The setting for Maui’s success came much by accident, argues Keenan. If you’re envisioning one of those scenarios in which vacation becomes a permanent residence, you aren’t far off, he explains.

Keenan first worked in Seattle as an engineer, where he then became a general contractor and builder. When one of his best clients asked if he’d be willing to work on a six-week project in Maui, he set sail immediately and, “I never left,” he says.

Noticing that most of Maui’s resident contractors sourced their products from big-box retailers, Keenan says he immediately recognized an opportunity for a door and window company that offered a wide range of products and in-house installation. “The person who comes out and measures isn’t always who comes back,” he says of big-box services.

While it might be a premier habitat for living, so far as business is concerned, Maui doesn’t come without challenges, he suggests, including around a two-week wait for any materials to arrive by boat to the island. In cases when the wrong products arrive or there are material defects, it can be days or even weeks before his company sees replacements. “If it’s broken glass, or something like that, it’s at least three or four weeks,” he says.

Key Contributors

According to Keenan, among the biggest factors that helped his company achieve success is a full-service design, including in-house sales, financing and installation. Other advantages include a general contracting license that allows Maui to take on jobs that involve more than just doors and windows. “If [they] need tile installed, or there’s waterproofing, they legally cannot do it,” he says of his competitors. “I can do that or most anything under my license.”

Operating Philosophy

Whether it’s one window, a screen door, or total replacement, treat every customer equally. That philosophy has paid off in new business, such as interior doors, which Keenan says most of his competitors shy away from. While they may not comprise a significant portion of his revenues, they do get his company onto more jobsites, which gives him an opportunity to earn more business.

Top Sales Tools

It pays to have loads of products. While many of its competitors offer as little as one option, Keenan says his company finds an advantage in luring customers in with as many reputable brands as possible.

Sticking Points

Not surprisingly, it’s labor. “We’re in the age of full employment,” he says. “It’s hard to keep staffed up the way we would like to be.”

Three Points of Advice for Any Dealer:

1. Get connected to your community. Maui and its employees are active in construction-related groups and associations around the island. Keenan takes time out of his busy schedule to teach courses at a local community college. The more you give back to your community the more it will give back to you, he suggests. And it can’t hurt when it comes time to assess future employees.

2. Pair up with like-minded vendors. “If your vendors are just looking for a paycheck, and that’s how you do business, then fine—you’re going to be great together,” he says. On the other hand, his company expects its vendors to take the same customer-first philosophy as his business.

3. Practice complete transparency and honesty. That will turn customers into one of your greatest assets, Keenan suggests. His company goes so far as reporting actual material costs on its estimates, along with its mark-ups. “We tell them, ‘This is exactly what we’re making,’ and we’re just straight forward about it,” he says.

Hardy Window Company Inc.

Placentia, Calif. | www.hardywindows.com

After cranking it up between 2016 and 2017 with a $6 million increase, Hardy Window Company managed to tack on another $4 million in 2018. That growth has come about somewhat organically, suggests the company’s owner, Chance Hardy. In the meantime, he enjoys watching his employees benefit from the fruits of the business.

“I get excited when they get a new car, when they go buy a house or they’re able to improve their lives because of this company,” he says. “That means the world to me.”

No. of Locations: 2
Brands: Amerimax, Amsco, Anlin, Cascade, Milgard, Peerless, Prime Windows, Quaker, Sierra Pacific, Simonton,
VPI, Weathershield, Western Window Systems
Installation: In-house, via approx. 125 installers
Sales Stats (Doors and Windows):
2016: $28 M
2017: $34 M
2018: $38 M
2019 (Projected): $41 M

Part of Hardy’s recipe for success includes landing the right talent and arranging his business in a way that gives each employee a specific role and defined boundaries. “Give everybody their own domain and let them do their job,” he suggests.

After starting the company out of his garage—“It was just me and a couple of my brothers,” he says—Hardy immediately began hunting down the best talent, including Tony Capito, who he says is a star player in the sales department. “His personal phone just rings off the hook and he typically can turn in 30 to 40 jobs a month,” Hardy says.

Key Contributors

In a word, “workmanship,” Hardy says. “We’ve got management in place that goes out to the jobsite. We’re all about quality and, so, if something’s not right they’ll rip it right off the wall and make them redo it.”

Operating Philosophy

“We’re trying to make an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work,” Hardy says. “We aren’t trying to gouge anybody and we’re not going to get rich off one little old lady’s job. It’s just not worth it to us.”

Top Sales Tools

Atop the list is word-of-mouth referrals, he says. “Some of the best leads that I’ve ever gotten are for people we did one window for,” Hardy explains. “There’s no money in it, but at the end of the day I chalk that up as advertising.”

Sticking Points

With a policy for promoting from within, Hardy says it’s difficult to balance talent between the field and office. “The biggest challenge comes from extracting guys out of the field while relying on other installers to step up.”

Three Points of Advice for Any Dealer:

1. Invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to have it tailored to your business, Hardy says. “A lot of people don’t realize that when you order a software system, you can pay someone to come in and customize it,” he explains. “You can explain to them what you want it to do, and they can tweak it and make it work for you, specializing it to your business.”

2. Answer your phone and get rid of your voicemail. “People want things right now,” he says. When someone calls his office, “a live person picks up the phone and gets that person the information they need immediately.”

3. Go anywhere and do anything. His company’s salespeople and installation crews will go places that none of its competitors will, Hardy says. Small towns in the middle of absolutely nowhere? They’ll be there. One window? No problem. “A lot of companies vet the phone call before it comes in and will demand a minimum of four windows or a minimum of 10 windows before they’ll even step foot on your property. For us, if you want one window, we’ll sell it to you.”

Wintek USA

Pearson, Ark. | www.wintekusa.net

Launching in October 2018 on the backs of three co-workers and a spouse (Paul Echols, Paul’s wife, Tammy, a nurse with 23 years’ experience and a knack for all things business, Tom Giusti and Dustin Brown), “We just took matters into our own hands,” Echols says about starting their own business. “We put together a call center, bought the contacts and went to work.” Echols crafted Wintek’s sales processes.

Within its first nine months, the company has netted around 240 customers, he says, producing $2.1 million in sales through a single location. By the end of 2019, Echols says his company expects to hit $3.4 million for the year.

No. of Locations: 1
Brands: Soft-Lite
Installation: In-house, via 12-18 installers
Sales Stats (Doors and Windows):
October 2018 – present: $2.1 M
2019 (Projected): $3.4 M

With a staff of four sales representatives and a call center equipped with 10 agents, Wintek’s success stems from making “thousands of cold calls per day,” Echols says. “Those people who call you all the time that you don’t like? That’s us.” While many of the company’s competitors rely on TV and internet ads, and search engine optimization, “We started out old school,” he explains.

As part of its strategy, Echols says Wintek aims to offer better quality products than most of its competitors, while matching the competition—even when it cuts into profits. The company’s first nine months prove that those “losses” pay dividends, he suggests, through the law of averages.

Key Contributors

Echols says more calls equal more appointments and more appointments equal more sales. He approximates that 38% of his company’s cold calls result in sales, but the goal is to reach the 65-80% mark going forward.

Operating Philosophy

Honest persistence. “One of our internal philosophies is making this a family oriented, Christian-based business,” he says. “We don’t high pressure people, but we don’t go away, either. I want to go home and sleep at night … we do what we say we’re going to do, treating people right, not jerking them around.”

Top Sales Tools

(You guessed it—the telephone.) And a custom set of scripts developed by Echols.

Sticking Points

This early in the game Echols says it’s hard to estimate where the company’s biggest challenges come from, but like any startup growing can be a struggle. At press time, his company had plans to add five additional sales reps.

Three Points of Advice for Any Dealer:

1. Don’t wait for the phone to ring. “Some companies sit back and just wait for it to come to them,” Echols says. “And you just can’t do that.” When the phone isn’t ringing, start dialing, he says.

2. When it comes to sales, don’t wing it. Whether it’s going off of existing scripts or coming up with your own, develop a system that’s engineered and integrated into the rest of your business.

3. Location, location, location. If you have the ability to select or expand where you do business, go with the markets that are ripe for doors and windows. “Arkansas is the window capital of the world,” says Echols. And that can’t hurt his company’s odds for success, he adds.

Still on Top

NewSouth Winfow Solutions LLC

Tampa, Fla. | www.newsouthwindow.com

Since NewSouth Window Solutions made [DWM]’s list in 2014, it’s been nothing but up for the company. Over the past few years, the dealer has managed to nearly double its revenues from doors and windows, this year expecting to exceed $100 million.

Fast-Growing Franchise

Zen Windows

Columbus, Ohio | www.zenwindows.com

When Zen’s founder, Dan Wolt, set out to create his franchise, he had a different idea for how to sell doors and windows.

“I was working from my house and UPS and FedEx were delivering stuff,” Wolt says. “I thought, ‘I wonder if windows could be sold that way?’”

With some trepidation, Wolt abandoned his usual in-person sales tactics, instead setting out to create a mostly online model that delivers quotes over email. “That month, my business tripled or even quadrupled. People thought it was the best thing ever,” he says. Soon thereafter, he franchised the concept.

After adding six new independent dealers between 2017 and 2019, the overall franchise pushed its door and window related revenues from $22 million to $28 million— posting a 250% increase since 2016.

And Its Star Player

Brian Zimmerman

Zen Windows, Charlotte | www.zenwindowsnc.com

Sales Stats (Doors and Windows):
2017: $1.25 M
2018: $1.6 M
2019 (Projected): $2.5 M

If the idea for a one-person sales crew sounds unthinkable, Zimmerman upends that notion. Following Zen’s formula for electronically driven sales, Zimmerman has doubled his company’s sales over a three-year period, making him one of Zen’s fastest-growing locations.

“Obviously consumers appreciate the brand and format,” he suggests. “We have a lot of clients who are dual-income families and don’t have time for long presentations.”

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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