July 12, 2010

You Can Learn from Bill’s Mistake

By Paul Bieber

It sure would tick me off. I was talking with a glazier who did some repairs at a small condominium complex on a regular basis. Homeowners would call him for breaks and seal failures. He knew the condo’s management, and he never missed a job call. One day he was driving by the complex and he saw a Brand X Window Company truck offloading pallets of new windows and doors for the condos.

Let’s call my friend Bill. Bill went into the condo office, with a head of steam and asked what the heck was going on. Calmly, the manager explained that Brand X had been working the Association for six months on a program to install new windows that were extremely energy-efficient. With the tax rebates, and the projected energy savings, they had a four year payback on this purchase. Bill asked, “Why didn’t you ask me about the windows?” The manager said that Bill was a great repairer of windows, but didn’t know Bill could make or install new windows.

Well, Bill left there, proceeded to stop at Molly’s Bar and Grill, have a few cold ones, and that evening he called me. Where did he go wrong? Here is what I told him.

“Bill,” I said, “You are a great glass man, you can fix anything with glass in it, making it look better than new. You never miss an appointment, and are always fair in your pricing. But, Bill, the glass market is changing all around us, everyday. Customers aren’t buying new windows for decorative purposes; energy-savings is the key to everything in the glass business today. Look at your business cards, it has ‘Bill Repairs Breaks’ in bold letters and so does your yellow pages ad. You talk about your great service in your ads, and when people need service they call you.

“But, in this case, a sales team came into the association, and with graphs and charts, they sold the Association on new windows. I’ll bet you never discussed new windows with the manager, did you?”

“Never did,” he replied. “Never thought they needed them, as I kept fixing them up all the time.”

“Bill, you didn’t see the big sale right in front of your face. Service such as yours is the most important thing for a break shop, but you can be more than that. You have the relationship with the Condo manager. You could have made an appointment to meet him and present an alternate energy savings window. You just didn’t see it right in front of your face.”

Bill asked, “I don’t know much about low-e and all the tax stuff, so how could I compete?”

“Bill, you have the most valuable part of the equation. You are trusted by the condo manager. Here is what you do for the other condos you work on. Start out by working with two or three window manufacturers. One, aluminum, one vinyl or fiberglass, and one wood. Have their regional reps call on you and set up an operating plan like this. You will set up the meeting with your friends and the window manufacturer’s rep will give the presentation. You work together on the pricing of the windows, and you do the install.”

“It’s a no-brainer. If the condo or apartment trusts you, your recommendation goes a long way and is transferred to the window provider.

“Change your business card, update your yellow pages ad, hire your ten-year old nephew to build a web site highlighting window energy conservation. Put a sign on your truck, and a flyer in every invoice and statement you send out. If you pick up one or two jobs per year, you are a hero! And by the way, when you sit through the presentations, you will be learning all about energy savings and glass. Believe me Bill, this is the most important aspect of our industry in the future.”

Paul’s Note: Yes, this is totally made up, but it sounds a lot better this way than if I just threw a sermon at you about energy-savings!