Sponsored by: Marvin Windows and Doors
By Jackie Ostrowski
As an expert, you provide guidance on many home building decisions. You already know that windows go beyond energy conservation and ventilation; they help set the tone for the entire space they occupy. When homeowners start conversations about window replacement projects, it’s your job to ask the right questions to help them select beautiful and functional windows that work with the style of their home.
You may be surprised to learn that homeowners need significantly more guidance than most contractors expect to give for window replacement projects. For example, they may not understand how the requirements of a replacement project differ from those of a new build. But by guiding them through the process while educating them, you can become the hero of their replacement window story.
The Secret to Successful Bids
As contractors, it can be easy to forget that most homeowners have never replaced their windows or doors, so they’re in very unfamiliar territory. That’s why it’s so important to understand where they’re coming from—their confusions, frustrations, and questions. You’d want an expert who would walk you through the process, too. But it’s not just about building empathy; understanding homeowner needs is key to developing a proposal based on their needs.
By focusing on providing a strong proposal and homeowner-centric experience, you can build the trust that those potential clients need to move forward with a pain-free replacement window process.
Building a Business Based on Customers, Not Sales
When it comes to replacement windows, Marvin dealer ALCO Products follows a similar process to other contractors, asking about the number and size of windows, features requested and other details. But, over time, they’ve learned to prioritize one very important first step: they start by asking the customer what it is they hope to accomplish with their replacement.
Knowing the grand plan means that they can reframe those standard assessments in a way that helps homeowners understand how the possibilities of any given window can help achieve their goals.
“We do a needs assessment to see what they are actually looking for before talking about any product,” Jesse Kreisman, Digital Marketing Specialist and Sales Manager at ALCO Products, explains. “You are there to help the homeowner, not just sell them on whatever you are offering. Take the time to find out what is going on. What are their issues? How can you support them? Generally, we are the only contractors in our area that take the time to get to know what’s important to a homeowner and what their issues are before diving in.”
ALCO Products, Inc., Marvin(r)’s 60+-year-old replacement window and door dealer, has built its entire reputation around being that expert that homeowners can turn to for advice and installation without having to compromise on price or quality.
This wasn’t always the case, though. Before they implemented this homeowner-first approach, the company focused primarily on carrying solid products like Marvin windows and doors and the pricing. This was a good start, but it failed to prioritize the specific needs of the homeowner.
Best Practices You Can Adopt Immediately
Learn from the changes ALCO Products made to improve your own approach to working with homeowners. Here are some best practices you can adopt right away:
● Start where the homeowner is. This involves asking questions and showing empathy so it’s clear that you understand what their current problem is and how they’d like to solve it. Once you’re on the same level, increase their confidence by providing them with the knowledge they need to feel empowered throughout this process.
● Use email to keep your customers informed.
○ Send a follow-up email immediately after your first conversation with the homeowner that summarizes their goals and reinforces that you heard them. This way, they can feel empowered to make more decisions armed with your expertise.
○ Send another email the day that you’re due to come out to bid their window job. This can help keep the homeowner focused and confident.
● Build trust with every interaction. Homeowners may only ever buy new windows once in their lives. This is a big deal to them and you should be sensitive to that. Do it and earn major trust and referral points— neglect it and you may lose business or valuable contacts.
● Be upfront about costs; don’t include hidden fees. Along with building trust through your general behavior, your pricing model should help clients believe in you. Hidden fees and lots of fine print only make for more distrust, not for less. You may feel like you’re protecting yourself financially, but consider what that small undisclosed fee may be costing you in referrals and repeat jobs.
● Only promise what you can deliver. According to Kreisman, “A bigger proposal doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a job, but if all of the things listed are things you actually will deliver and do, that’s where you start to build good customer experiences that will get you referrals.”
● Do the extra work it takes to look like a pro. It can take some extra investment and effort to gather all the information you need for potential clients, but it’s worth the investment. Kreisman explains, “It’s tough to win a job, and there are costs associated with being more professional and preparing these detailed materials, but you are justifying why you are charging more, and this is a differentiator. If you do the work up front, you will win the jobs, and you’ll win them at a better price.”
● Always follow the campsite rule. Whether you’re measuring for windows or are installing them, leave the house at least as good as you found it.
Move Forward With Homeowners’ Needs in Mind
Tuning into your homeowners’ needs and helping them through a confusing and frustrating process can lead to repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals. It’s worth it to invest in their projects’ success—in the long run, this will lead to more successes for you, too.
Sponsored by: Marvin Windows and Doors