July 19, 2011

How Granite State Glass Is Fighting the Recession

By Paul Bieber

I have a friend, Malcolm, who is an architect in Keene, NH, the closest city to where I live.  He invited me to a ‘lunch and learn’ session at a local general contractor where the subject was Doors and Windows.  He thought it would be of interest to me.  He was right.  I came away with knowledge, but what I gained most will help every glass shop and contractor in the country.

The program was taught by two representatives of JELD-WEN windows, and they really knew their stuff.  They kept the program clear of advertising and self promotion, teaching about different kinds of windows and doors.  There were twelve estimators from the GC at lunch, and they knew who was doing the teaching.  In fact, they were more impressed with JELD-WEN for being neutral and not taking advantage of the situation.

But the real winner, from a business point-of-view was Granite State Glass, the leading glazing contractor in New Hampshire, with eight locations in New Hampshire and one in Vermont.  They were the ones that set up the program and recruited JELD-WEN to do the teaching.  Two senior members of Granite State’s marketing team were there, but in the background.  They introduced the speakers from the window company, and at the end, thanked everyone for coming.  They also offered each person there a binder with ad sheets on some of their specialty products.  It was just a perfect undersell.

Granite State didn’t wait for some business to come knocking on their door.  They created an image of knowledge and competency in the estimating crew of the largest GC in our region.  Talk about hitting a home run!

You can do the same.  Every major vendor you deal with will be glad to send in an educational team for a presentation like this.  Whether it comes from the aluminum sector, a glass fabricator or floater, or fenestration suppliers, there is a tremendous amount of knowledge out there that your customers would be eager to learn.  This didn’t cost Granite State a ton of money.  They had a box lunch for a dozen people, and their invested time.

Line up your vendor(s) of choice…people who have a story to tell about new energyy-savings products, decorative products or safety for building occupants.  These are all hot topics right now.  If your vendors are certified by the AIA to offer Continuing Education Units, which will be important to the GC’s and the architects, this will help.

The work you have to do is to prepare your own marketing materials.  Now you don’t have to create new stuff.  Use the brochures from your key suppliers, and place them in a three ring notebook with a sticker from your company on the cover.

Don’t skimp on the lunch.  The difference between a $6 lunch and a $10 lunch is a good will bonanza.

Granite State, as far as I saw, didn’t get any work that day.  But the impression they left of professionalism and knowledge about glazing and glazing products will get them work in the future.  You can do this too.