March 7, 2010

Increasing Sales in the Glass Industry Part 1

By Paul Bieber

OK, enough of the funny columns and jokes. Let’s get serious about increasing sales in your glass shop. Yes– yours. Don’t tell me about the recession or the lack of building going on. Our national economy is down 5%–that leaves 95% out there. The glass industry is down anywhere from 20% to 30%. That still leaves 75% out there….let’s go get it. And, by-the-way, none of these ideas will cost you a dollar.

Step 1. It ain’t gonna come to you. Get out of the shop, visit every contractor you have ever worked with. Even the ones that were a pain-in-the-neck. If they are still in business, then they did change for the better.

Pull up in your clean and polished truck. Smile and have the attitude that you have the world just where you want it. (I ran that last sentence by my editor, Mollie, and she made me say it politely.) Let your contractors know that you are still around because you do the job with the least amount of grief, and your customers love it. Sure, you are not the cheapest one in town, but you will bring a job in on-time and within budget. Practice your statement in front of a mirror until you can say it smoothly in a minute or two.

As you drive around, stop at anything that looks like a construction site. Find out who the GC or owner is and make your pitch to him or her about your capabilities.

Stop by city hall and check out every building permit that is issued. Follow up on each and every one.

Step 2. Open the yellow pages and seek out the new contractors in your area. While you are there, look up the categories that use a lot of glass. What are they, you say?

  • Museums
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Hospitals
  • Real Estate Management Companies
  • Showcase Manufacturers
  • Chain Stores
  • Local School Districts

Step 3. Let’s make some strategic alliances. Huh? Call every glass film company, pick the two or three busiest, and make an offer to send them referrals on film and they will send you referrals on glass replacement.

Do the same with lumber yards that sell wood windows. Most often they will sell someone all the stock windows, but they will have custom situations which need on-site glass expertise.

Do you do auto glass and flat glass? If you don’t, then hook up with a reliable company that does what you don’t, and swap out leads.

One of the best lead generators for you is professional window cleaners. They see the broken or failed units first. They see the rotted sill or the loose frame. They have the ear of the customer because they are there every week or two. The professional window cleaner can be your best friend–but make sure you work a two-way street. Give their name out to your commercial and residential clients that ask about periodic maintenance.

Step 4. Call your key suppliers and ask them what is new. Sounds so simple, but I know many glass shops who continue to sell the same products year after year. Your vendors will jump on the opportunity to train you in new products. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be your vendor.

Step 5. Never, ever, say that things are not good. When someone, anyone, asks, “How’s business”, always say that you are on top of the world. Smile. Act like a winner, and you become one. Your potential customers want to deal with companies that are winners, that get things done. Show them that label belongs on you.

Step 6. I’ve said this many times before–make your showroom a place to create sales, not a place to store samples and half-used tubes of caulking. Put up pictures of jobs you have done. Frame testemonial letters and place them in prominent places. Have good lighting. Get a shower door sample from your fabricator.

Next time we’ll talk about some ideas where you may want to invest a few bucks.