Monday, February 28, 2011

Sell Customer Solutions Not Products

Most products or services are looking for a market.  You must stand out in the marketplace by creating solutions for real problems in your customer’s lives.

I did an unscientific survey of window and door dealer websites. I put on my customer hat and went looking for windows for our old house.  I was so confused and felt bombarded by products looking for customers. With few exceptions window and door dealer websites all look the same to me.

    • VINYL
    • WOOD
So you’re looking for customers who want your stuff and I’m a customer looking for solutions to my situation.  We’re playing the Match Game.  I click in and out of the selections looking for a match until I tire of the effort and leave your website.

Reverse your perspective from featuring product solutions to customer solutions.  What is your customer’s environment?  Maybe it looks more like this:

    • HOA
If your perspective is that windows are fundamental, that is a basic necessity, then it stands to reason you’d also think a house is a house is a house.

I suggest dealers get a new perspective on windows.  There is no opportunity in windows being fundamental.  The opportunity is to show customers that win
dows are solutions to their lives and that you can create that.

Sharon Aby
Beyond Ideas

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Improve Your Profits with Company Goals

Check out this Zig Ziglar video on goal setting.
You'll be amazed how sales and profits dramatically improve when you have annual company goals that hold all employees accountable for success.  It’s a proven fact that companies with annual goals outperform those companies without annual goals. I make sure it happens as part of my consulting engagements.  You’ll believe it as well when you establish goals for your company because the improved results will speak for themselves.

Annual company goals must be:
  1. Specific – Means specific and concise goals because generalities don’t get the message across to your employees.  Make sure you goals are easily understood because nothing is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood.
  2. Measurable – Means goals are quantified and can be evaluated to determine if progress is being made.  What gets measured gets accomplished.
  3. Focused – Establishing too many annual goals detracts from accomplishing your goals.  Experience has shown three or four annual goals are the ideal number and any more than five goals most likely cannot be accomplished or will mean that all the goals reach less than the desired results.
Additionally, I always recommend that annual goals do not exceed one type-written page - create a one-page Strategic Plan that holds everyone in the company accountable for success.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Money Saving Trick: Calculate the # of days it takes your customers to pay

When was the last time you reviewed your collections strategy/policy? It is important to adapt your strategy to changes in the marketplace and to track the trend in the age of your receivables. Consider sending the accounts 2 weeks earlier if you're finding that customers are delaying payment by 2 weeks or more. If you want to calculate the average # of days it takes your customers to pay you, here's a simple formula:
(Total Accounts Receivable/Total Credit Sales) x
(the # of days in the sales period examined)

For example, if your total accounts receivable is $150,000 and your total annual credit sales are $1,000,000, your average days outstanding is $150,000/$1,000,000 x 365 = 55 days. If your terms are 30 days, then clearly 55 days is too long and you need to be more proactive and stop financing your customers' purchases.

If you sell directly to the end user and your average days outstanding is more than 15 days beyond your payment terms (i.e. 45 days if your terms are 30 days), then you need to adjust your strategy. If you're further up the supply chain, as in manufacturing for example, your average days outstanding is likely higher as the money has to work its way up the chain and multiple delays along the way will affect you the most.

The NGA and WDDA have partnered with TransworldSystems to help you get paid more often and on time.  For more information, contact Brian A. White, Senior Cash Flow Consultant, at or 703-556-3424 ext 23.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

For The Love: How your relationship adds up

Many have written about the idea that relationships can be likened to a bank account that is opened with another person; only the “balance” does not measure money, but rather trust. The relationship account is a metaphor for the balance of trust we have built with another person through behavior perceived by that person as a “deposit,” or the trust we lack due to too many “withdrawals.”
Take a moment and pick a relationship in your life, be it personal or professional, and assess your “account balance” by giving the trust you have built with that person a score ranging from -10 (if you are significantly overdrawn), all the way up to +10 if the trust is extremely high (zero is in the middle of the scale). If you have built amazing trust through consistently depositing with that person, if they get your meaning even when you make a mistake in your communication, because they know your heart and they trust you, then your balance is high. If you can’t seem to do anything right in their eyes, if the slightest mistake on your part is magnified and seems to make things even worse, then you are well overdrawn.
Next, identify the deposits and withdrawals in this relationship. Seek to maximize your deposits while minimizing withdrawals. As you do, keep the 3 Keys to the relationship account in mind:
  1. Make Valid Deposits – Find out what the valid deposits are, from the other person’s perspective. While the Golden Rule states, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” the true spirit of the rule is “Do unto others as they would have you to do unto them.” This is the rule to follow when seeking to make deposits with others. Get clear what THEY value, and make deposits from THEIR perspective, not your own.
  2. Make Deposits Sincerely & Unconditionally – If there are “strings” attached, if you have a hidden agenda or expect something in return, then what you are hoping to be a deposit will most likely become a withdrawal. Be sincere. Make the deposit unconditionally, with your only motive that of wanting to build trust and value in the relationship.
  3. Make Deposits Consistently – You know the old saying, “What have you done for me lately?” Well, this certainly applies to a relationship account. If you make a bunch of deposits in the short term, followed by nothing for quite a while, the other person begins to wonder about the sincerity of your previous deposits, or if they have done something “wrong”, or if you just don’t care anymore. Be consistent.
Now, imagine that these three keys are taken and locked in a box and you need one Master Key to access the other three. That Master Key is Personal Trustworthiness. The whole focus of the relationship account is to build trust. This cannot be done if we ourselves are not trustworthy.
Now, I encourage you to take this principle and apply it to your relationships. Make it part of your purpose to build trust in your relationships with others. With great trust comes great influence, and with great influence you have the power to effect happiness… yours as well as others’.
Kip Kint
ContactPoint Solutions NGA WDDA

Monday, February 14, 2011

Proactively Manage Customer Comments About Your Company

One of the challenges that social media presents us is staying a head of customer reviews of our company’s performance.  One bad review that works its way up in the search rankings can do a lot of damage before we have a chance to respond.  What can you do?

I stumbled across GuildQuality the other day while looking for customer survey tools. What I discovered was also a solution for the problem of negative customer comments.  What GuildQuality offers is a robust real-time customer survey program designed for the building industry.  And one of its features is the ability for your prospective customers to read genuine comments from other customers and see your overall performance scores.  It’s a wonderful database of positive comments that can far outweigh a few disgruntled customer comments.

Check it out.  It is a great social media tool to help you manage the online conversation about your company.

Sharon Aby
Beyond Ideas

Sharon Aby is a member of the WDDA Marketing Council and Beyond Ideas is a WDDA member.  Sharon held leadership positions with some of America’s most innovative companies: Apple Computer and Microsoft. She worked in Silicon Valley, providing her with a fundamental understanding of how the Internet underscores everything we do in business today.  She’s held positions across multiple functions including sales, marketing, customer support, business development, and human resources.  She received her Masters Degree from The University of Chicago.  Sharon is the founder of Beyond Ideas.  With a keep it simple approach, Sharon gives businesses a fresh look at how create a virtuous cycle of customers, new markets and innovative services.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Money Saving Trick: Business Consulting

Does your company need help with your strategic plan? Could you use assistance increasing sales or profits or managing your operations? Consulting Collaborative can help! Richard Voreis, a contributor to this blog and a partner of the NGA, has been in the industry for years. He has uniquely positioned Consulting Collaborative to assist glass and glazing subcontractors as well as window and door companies around the country. Here’s what industry insiders have to say about Richard and his company:
"Bacon & Van Buskirk saw marked improvement in our annual strategic planning, personnel development, and relationships as well as a tighter financial focus. The management and staff interviews, plus the subsequent strategic planning process, touched all levels of our company in a positive and lasting way. We recommend Richard Voreis and Consulting Collaborative."
- Rod Van Buskirk, Bacon &a Van Buskirk Glass Co.
"As a result of the interview process with our management and staff, we were able to make better business decisions regarding the overall functionality of our contract glazing business, which resulted in significantly increased revenue volume and at the highest percentage of net profit in our 20 years of operation. I would recommend the use of Richard Voreis as a business coach."
- John Heinaman, Heinaman Contract Glazing
What are you waiting for? Contact Richard Voreis for a no obligations proposal. Sign up for Consulting Collaborative services today and receive 10% off Consulting Services.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Make Your Business a Champion

Over 100 million people watched the Packers beat the Steelers last night.  Everyone who watched has their own opinion over why the Packers won (I for one don't really care - I'm more of a commercial fan than a football fan. That Darth Vader commercial? Amazing.)  One blog I read this morning had an interesting take: The Steelers didn't lose it; Rodgers and the Packers won it.

I like this point of view - and how it relates to the glass and window and door industries.  As a business, what do you do to make your business win? Here are a couple of examples of how industry businesses take advantage of NGA and WDDA programs to make themselves winners:
  • Trainor Glass Company: offers training to all employees - and rewards them for completing the training.

  • GlassPro: Technicians must be trained and certified in order to recieve promotions.
  • Connecticut Glass Dealers Association: Apprentices must complete training to become licensed.
The NGA and WDDA offer several educational and certification options. 
Find the one that is right for you. Act like the Packers and make your business a champion.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

EPA's Lead Safe Practices Rule – Round 2

Brace yourself. The feds aren't through with you just yet. The EPA is set to announce in a few short months a new slate of rules associated with the lead safe practices regulations that took effect last July.

The proposed rules would require dust-wipe testing for lead dust generated by renovations covered under the EPA's Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RRP) rules implemented in 2010.  With a few exceptions, the rule requires that the test results be furnished to residential building owners. For certain jobs that involve demolition, destruction or use of high-speed equipment such as power sanders, the regulation requires the renovator to demonstrate through dust-wipe testing that dust-lead residues are below the levels permitted by regulation. The proposed rule covers most pre-1978 housing and "child-occupied facilities," such as schools and daycare centers.

So, what does this mean to you?  Quite a bit, actually.  Here are a few of the many ramifications for our industry:
  1. EPA’s clearance testing rule makes the contractor (a.k.a., window and door dealer) responsible for cleaning pre-existing lead hazards in the home, blurring the lines between dealers and LBP abatement firms;
  2. Window and door dealers may be subjected to a variety of state and local regulatory mandates arising from the EPA's granting of enforcement authority to government bodies at those levels; and,
  3. You may be subject to certain new liability issues once you, as the contractor, inform a homeowner/tenant of a lead hazard remaining in the building following a renovation.
As usual, the EPA's new rules, while well-intentioned, add another onerous burden on the backs of window and door dealers.  As a result, the Window & Door Dealers Alliance and National Glass Association are actively pursuing changes to the rule. The WDDA submitted comments on behalf of thousands of dealers in August 2010 and we intend to meet at the White House with key staff from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs soon.

We face a daunting challenge, but we remain vigilant in our fight to bring reason to these policies. Be sure to visit and for more information and to learn how you can join our efforts.

More details can also be found at the EPA website or by contacting the EPA at National Program Chemicals Division, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001;  (202) 564-0484; (Federal Register: July 7, 2010 [Proposed Rules], Page 38959).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

EPA Seeking Dealer Comments by March 28, 2011

The EPA published an information collection request for the costs and burdens to firms engaged in Lead-Based Paint Activities and Renovation, Repair, and Painting.  This is an opportunity for the window and door dealer community to comment on the EPA’s estimates for certification and record keeping. Comments must be received on or before March 28, 2011. 
Publicly available docket materials are available electronically at

Now that the window and door industry has worked to comply with the rule, comments from the companies stating the costs and burdens associated with the rule could have an impact -  particularly considering the President’s executive order affirming cost/benefit analysis and the agency requirement to choose the least burdensome option.
Please share your comments and cost examples with the WDDA and NGA.  If you  have any questions, please contact me at or 703/442-4890 ext 153.

David Walker