Milanese Remodeling
by Mark Milanese
March 21st, 2017

When a Window Dealer Needs to Buy New Windows

It is hard for an old dog to learn new tricks, but over the last few years many window-installation companies have been forced to learn a new product line because their existing suppliers have either gone out of business or been bought up by another company.

Gorrell, Dove and BF Rich are just a very short list of manufacturers who have ceased to exist over the last few years, with BF Rich ceasing operations just last month. …

The distributors and dealers who purchased these products to install on clients’ homes are now forced to look into their crystal balls. They have to consider how to deal with future warranty issues and how to match windows for existing clients who were phasing in the replacement of windows on their homes. Beyond that, they will have to find a new resource for windows. A new manufacturer to partner with in business. …

Old dogs who have infinite knowledge of the window products of a manufacturer who is no longer in business will have to learn the bag of new tricks of another window manufacturer. It can be daunting to go from the position of window salesman to window buyer.

Take me, for instance. Milanese had been a BF Rich window dealer since 1958. That is almost 60 years.  Their products were as familiar to me as the back of my own hand. The executives, salespeople, administrators, delivery man, secretaries and service personnel were not only an extension of our own business, they were an extension of our own family.  I will miss our relationship with these people more than the relationship to the products they made and sold to us, but I cannot discount how important the relationship with the product has been for me and our family, too.

With so much experience, we became used to offering “our” manufacturer’s product a certain way. Although price is a large consideration for every homeowner, long-term satisfaction usually means taking other factors into consideration before price…

I typically would educate the end consumer about how to compare the new window and installation process based on several criteria:

  1. “MPG Sticker” (Energy Star rating);
  2. “Crash Test Ratings” (design pressure ratings);
  3. InstallationMaster certification;
  4. “Lifetime” warranty specifications, and;
  5. Price.

I have found an educated consumer who can compare windows on an even playing field with independently tested numbers is my best friend. I believe the educated consumer is less likely to make a purchasing decision based on price alone. The educated consumer is more likely to question the tactics of a high-pressure sales pitch and more likely to make a decision that is best for them and based upon their needs and the conditions of their home and budget. They recognize value and are willing to pay for it.

Educating the consumer during the sales process doesn’t have to change, but I find myself choking on my words when I talk about lifetime warranty, knowing that ultimately it may become MY responsibility to honor the manufacturer warranty, NOT the manufacturer.  I also find that some of the manufacturers I’m considering to partner with don’t have the same philosophy as me. They tell me DP ratings don’t matter as much as I think. That they don’t offer AAMA InstallationMaster training and certification and that I’m on my own with that, now. That they want to charge me a fortune to provide showroom displays.

Since we are starting fresh, I’m looking at ALL aspects of the manufacturer/dealer relationship — from the internet presence of a brand to product features, benefits and aesthetics. I’m also looking at individual manufacturers’ ability to help me grow profits — from unique showroom displays and in-home sales tools to customer relationship management and lead-generation programs.

My dad used to say he didn’t make money when he sold something, he made money when he bought it. That was an oversimplification of his ability to make money from nothing, but I did see him flip real estate with an eye for the worst property on a good block. I also saw him make great partnership decisions with manufacturers. Relationships that lasted for almost 60 years to the benefit of our company and the end consumer…

For almost 60 years our company made money with the door and window manufacturer Dad originally chose to buy and then sell to property owners. It was not because he chose to buy the least-expensive doors and windows to sell to our clients, but because we bought the doors and windows the end consumer would have the greatest satisfaction with over the long term for a wide variety of reasons… The educated consumer is indeed our best friend and has been for the past 60 years.

So, now it is my turn to be the best educated consumer. To select the best doors and windows for our company to partner with for the next 60 years…

Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted.

This blog is from Door and Window Market [DWM] magazine's free e-newsletter that covers the latest door and window industry news. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to [DWM] magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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6 comments
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  1. Mark – very nice blog

  2. Remember schuco?
    This is just the beginning
    Timely deliveries are important too
    Good luck

  3. Nice blog Mark. They should be lining up at your door.

  4. Nice blog Mark. They should be lining up at your door.

  5. Love the insight, Mark…couldn’t have said it better myself!

  6. Nicely done Mark. Makes great sense.

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