Editor’s [re]Marks
by Drew Vass
May 4th, 2020

Why Door and Window Companies are Suited for COVID-19

It feels like a risky time for pep talks. And who can fault anyone for wanting to hurl something at someone trying to shed any positive light in the current situation. But anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a pragmatic optimist.

I can understand why some folks are reluctant to receive a pat on the tush when we’re all limping onto a broken playing field. At the same time, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some of my recent thoughts for why I think doors and windows are better suited to the “COVID Economy” than a lot of other industries.

And I’m not alone. Several experts suggested to me lately that this sector might be a silver lining for remodeling in the months ahead. In one of our recent podcast episodes, Todd Tamalak, senior vice president at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, said if his company was a hedge fund looking to buy one category and short another, “I would want to be an owner of windows and doors, versus some other categories.” Why? He said his company sees in its data some really positive things that it doesn’t see in other areas. I, too, see some positives—or at least some advantages.

First, door and window contractors that are lead-safe certified are already stocked and trained at using things like containment barriers, masks, gloves and full protective suits, as well as are experts at cleaning. By applying some of those same practices, they can help to place homeowners’ minds at ease, while also protecting employees. Aside from painters who use similar equipment for spray applicators, I can’t imagine what other home improvement sector is immediately suited to provide those assurances.

On the other hand, I think we can all agree that showing up to a sales meeting in the same getup probably isn’t going to help matters. And I’d be last to suggest that we allow homeowners to take their own measurements (heck, I laughed when one of our guests on a recent podcast suggested that even letting salespeople take final measurements is risky), but there are plenty of new technologies that are more than capable of getting the ball rolling. Several months ago, I test drove a mobile app that allows you to take photos of your home to automatically identify fenestration and perform ancillary measurements; it even allows you to browse product catalogues to see what various products look like through augmented reality. Is it perfect enough to measure down to ¼-inch? Of course not. But I was impressed by its accuracy for rough measurements. With lidar being added to the latest mobile devices, my guess is that it’s only a matter of time before those technologies are incorporated into the process. When that happens, who’s to say that homeowners can’t provide measurements? By introducing potential customers to these tools, the next step in the sales process becomes that much easier.

Lastly, for those customers who just don’t feel comfortable with purchasing something like windows without at least opening, closing and tilting them (and I’m darn sure one of them), I would argue that those people aren’t likely to arrive in droves the way they do for other areas of retail. Let’s be honest, the odds of a dozen customers storming most door and window showrooms at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday aren’t high. For this reason, it makes perfect sense to block off times for white glove (or white mask) VIP appointments.

Maybe I’m seeing the glass as half full (because I always do). And maybe that irritates a handful of people, who rightfully argue that I’m not the one trying to sell doors and windows. But from my perspective, what other sector of the home improvement industry is immediately suited to work its way through this situation?

Speaking of annoyances—whether it’s a podcast episode, a phone call, or an email, my sign off for just about everything these days is: “Stay safe and well.” And I keep thinking, “I bet people are sick of me saying that.” But every time I say it, it’s genuine. I am thinking of that person or that company, and truly wishing it.

On that note, maybe I need to stop worrying about how we’re all perceiving things these days and just stick with it. So please: Stay safe and well.

We’ll all get through this together.

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