Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Building a Successful Sales Culture

By Asher Raphael, guest blogger, Power Home Remodeling Group
At my company, we devote a good deal of time to evaluating and measuring employee performance, and linking that data back to initiatives, benefits and programs to provide our employees with the tools they need to thrive. We've found success with the following principles when trying to determine how to build a culture of successful sales representatives:
Training makes a difference: At Power, all employees undergo an extensive training program when they first join our team. No matter the position, each new employee is educated on all aspects of the business, providing them with a thorough background and the confidence that comes with feeling like an educated, invested member of a team. Develop a training program that is right for your company, and take the time to ensure that each new hire completes the program before their daily duties begin to pile up. An employee who is well-versed on the company’s history, mission and process will be better prepared to offer stellar customer service, increased sales numbers, and a number of other valuable benefits.
Incentivize them: It almost goes without saying that if you give your employees incentives their performance is likely to improve. We’ve offered perks in the form of bonuses, tickets to sporting events, and even cash to motivate our sales representatives to hit their goals. Determining what types of incentives to offer can be a challenge — especially for smaller businesses dealing with limited budgets. If you’re struggling to provide incentives on a shoestring, consider offering extra vacation, work from home or personal days as motivating factors. Your best sounding board when trying to find out which incentives will work for your sales force — is your sales force! Consider conducting an informal poll to get some ideas going, and develop an incentive program that works for your company and inspires the associates that are working hard for you.
A little acknowledgement goes a long way: One integral component of a culture that breeds happy and successful employees is an internal communications strategy that acknowledges individuals and teams when their hard work pays off. Whether it’s through an all-staff email, a personal phone call to top producers, or a quarterly company newsletter, make sure you recognize the hard work of your employees on a consistent basis. Employees who know that their efforts are appreciated are more likely to continue to deliver — and to stay with a company that acknowledges their talents.
At the end of the day, a company’s culture is only as good as its employees, so don’t neglect to recognize the importance of implementing a strategic hiring process in addition to the ideas mentioned above.
Just a few weeks ago, we were thrilled to find out that Power was named one of the “50 Best Companies to Sell For” by Selling Power Magazine. While creating a culture that inspires our employees to exceed expectations on a number of levels might be a challenge, it is also an essential investment in the overall success and growth of our company.
Do you have an incentive program in place at your company that rewards sales staff for meeting or exceeding their goals? Has this been a successful approach? Why or why not? Please take the poll below to share your strategy and post a comment about your experience.
How Do You Incentivize your Sales People to Hit Their Goals?
Company-wide recognition programs
None of the above
A mix of the above

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What's Your Legacy

"This could all be yours one day." In my 23 years in the glass industry, I have known many business owner parents who have said similar words to a would-be heir and have been rejected. Real or imagined, there's a sense that careers in high-tech or finance appeal more than the world of construction or manufacturing, even if it means calling your own shots once dad or mom (finally) retire.
Recently, it seems I'm hearing more prodigal son/daughter stories. Rick Dominguez, Jordon Glass Machinery, grew up seeing his father come home tired after long, sweaty days cutting and installing glass in and around Miami. "I didn't want any part of that," he recalls. So Rick pursued an accounting degree and landed at a top multinational firm in the Northeast.
As it happens, he, too, put in very long days, working up mega-corporation financials plans. But the salary did not pay out in fulfillment. When a new opportunity arose to morph the family glass business into a glass equipment import sales company, Rick came home.
On a recent visit to Jordon, several things jumped out at me. The kids' toys tucked under desks and alongside tools in the shop; the relaxed, smiling atmosphere; and the Glass Magazine float manufacturing poster hanging on the wall behind Rick's desk.
Rick's life changed when he opted to apply his financial skill set to his family-focused world of glass. Though he still works hard to grow the business, he also has time for projects that bring him greater fulfillment in life--such as applying his social media skills to host "Theology on Tap" gatherings. Scroll down to the third photo.
Inspiring? I think so, starting with how to attract top young talent into--or back to--the family glass business.
Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine. Write her at nharris@glass.org.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Market Forecast at Window & Door Dealers Forum

Are you ready to take advantage of market trends? The experts agree, the new home, remodeling and retrofit outlook shows demand solidly returning and many WDDA members are experiencing growth now. The 2013 Window and Door Dealers Forum (WDDF) featured these and other valuable insights from Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist for Hanley Wood, who presented his much anticipated annual forecast for the remodeling industry... Read More

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Searching for the Next Low-E

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office is seeking the next game-changing, energy-saving window technology, says Karma Sawyer, technology manager and physical scientist for the BTO’s Emerging Technologies Program fenestration and building envelope technology portfolios. Essentially, this means the BTO is looking for the next low-E.
The BTO has established an “immense” goal to reduce building energy use by 50 percent by 2030, and windows will play a critical role in achieving that goal, Sawyer said Oct. 28 during the American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s National Fall Conference in Baltimore. To meet the challenging 2030 goal, the BTO is looking to work with the industry to develop energy-saving window technologies during the next decade. “The goal is to reduce building energy use, and according to our analysis, 18 percent of those savings can come from windows,” Sawyer said.
To show the potential of such government/glass industry partnerships, Sawyer discussed the development of low-emissivity glass that started out with a $2 million investment from the DOE. “I don’t have to tell people about the impact of low-E windows,” she said. Development of low-E began in 1976 with a Lawrence Berkeley National Lab/Southwall partnership, funded by the DOE. That partnership developed the first low-E in 1981. By 1988, low-E windows captured 20 percent of the residential market.
Sawyer said she recognizes that the incredible level of success of low-E glass in improving performance will be difficult to match. But, she said BTO is eyeing several top priority emerging window technologies that could greatly improve energy performance at as little cost to the end user as possible.
The highest priority R&D window technology for BTO is R-10 windows for commercial and residential applications. With 2025 cost targets of $6 or less per square foot (for the installed cost premium), R-10 windows have incredible potential to improve energy performance at a price point that will allow for market acceptance. However, Sawyer noted that, after R-7 is achieved, a reduction in price is more effective than an increase in R-value. “If you can reduce the cost, this will get your payback down. This is the major driver. At a certain point, we see diminishing returns from reducing the R-value,” she said.
Tier 2 R&D areas for the BTO’s window division include dynamic windows (for commercial and residential), and visible light redirection (for commercial only).
Sawyer also gave some exciting examples of R&D projects currently underway between the BTO and industry, starting with a smart residential dynamic highly insulating window being developed by LBNL (essentially a high-performing IGU with automated blinds controlled by sophisticated environmental sensors).
BTO is also working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on a transparent insulation for windows (a clear film retrofitted into windows, either as retrofit, or in the factory). And there’s the ITN Energy Systems Inc. retrofit, highly insulating EC window (a low-E film with high IR, with the potential of integrating an electrochromic film).
BTO is also looking at framing. In fact, the office has worked with Kawneer Co.’s Traco division to develop an R-5 commercial window with a U-factor of less than .22, while achieving architectural structural ratings. The funding helped the company achieve “cost-efficient product design, integrated with manufacturer upgrades,” Sawyer said. “This has been commercialized twice—once in early 2012 and once in June.”
BTO is actively seeking additional industry partners for development of even more energy-efficient window technologies. Sawyer recommended that industry companies look at developments within their own companies, seek out partnerships with others in the industry, and apply for Funding Opportunity Announcements within the BTO.
Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. Write her at kdevlin@glass.org.

NGA Industry Insight: Project Management Techniques

GlassBuild America 2013 featured numerous educational opportunities from which participants could benefit.  In this article, NGA shares valuable learning derived from a Glazing Executives Forum breakout session as experienced by the moderator, NGA Chairman-elect Bryan Bush of City Glass Company in Omaha, NE.   The session was entitled Project Management Techniques and attracted nearly 60 participants.  As you will see from Bryan’s observations, attendees produced a valuable list of tips and takeaways.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Free Agency Versus the Farm System

In a past blog, the four cornerstones of a business were discussed: build the dream; build the team; build the processes; build the profit 
Today’s blog focuses on “Building the Team.” To use Major League Baseball terms, a team can be built through free agency and/or through the farm system. A healthy company does both. By using free agency, you bring fresh ideas into the company. By promoting through the farm system, you create an excitement within the company, and your retention of employees is improved.
With free agency, it is relatively easy to spot talent. In the early 1970s, my father wanted to expand. He needed to add a salesman. He asked several customers about his competition and, specifically, who was his toughest individual competitor. All of those surveyed listed the same person at the top of the list. Once Dad had identified the free agent he wanted, he recruited him to Evans Glass Co.
Of course, I am an example of Dad’s farm system. And, Evans Glass Co. continues to use both methods—we used free agency to acquire a bookkeeper, while our current production manager was an installer, and our operation manager started as a receptionist.
Both methods offer benefits and pitfalls. Free agency's benefits include:
  • When a need has been identified it can be filled immediately with an experienced person.
  • It can strengthen a company while simultaneously weakening a competitor.
  • It saves time by eliminating the need to train.
Free agency’s pitfalls are:
  • It is more expensive than using the farm system.
  • There a risk that the free agent will not fit the culture of the company.
  • A message may be sent to current employees that there is not an opportunity for them to advance within the company.
  • It is easy to fall into “The Good Ole Boy Network” syndrome.
The farm system offers benefits as well:
  • The person already has blended into the company culture and earned respect of his/her peers.
  • The person has “insider” knowledge of the company and its markets to produce immediate results.
  • It is less expensive than free agency.
  • It creates a feeling that there is a future with the company.
The farm system’s pitfalls are:
  • It takes longer to develop talent and knowledge.
  • It is harder to recognize potential.
  • It takes patience.
Be careful about too many free agents. The farm system should always be a company’s first choice. Don’t overlook people just because they haven’t done the job before. See people as they can be, not as they are. All good leaders see people in this way.
The author is president, Evans Glass Co., and immediate past chairman of the board for the National Glass Association. Write him at bevans@evansglasscompany.com.
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Friday, October 18, 2013

What Your Truck Says about You

On the dos and don’ts checklist, it pays to remember your company’s fleet, even if a fleet of one, is a moving, multi-ton business card. 
I was reminded of this the other night as I spotted this fine specimen parked—legally, no less—on the street. Clean, informative, big numbers and type designed to be read on the move. I was impressed enough to scan the QR code and look at the company’s web site. Checkmark another “do” done right; easy to navigate on my phone. I’ve been thinking about a built-in cabinet at home, and this company made the right impression. I will call to get a quote.
I walked up another two blocks and there it was; the DON’T Truck. Also white, but that’s where the comparison ends. It was dirty and its signage was handwritten in magic marker, no less.
I felt a twinge of chagrin because unlike the DO truck, the DON’T truck is of the glass industry. In fact, the crew was installing a new glass storefront, and maybe not surprisingly, they were as unimpressive as the truck. A couple of them were lounging on ladders, one was smoking, all were wearing grubby sweatshirts, no company logo in sight, no gloves, no lifting belts. On the plus side, they did have the area roped off, which was good because there was broken glass on the sidewalk.
Now it’s true, I don’t have a storefront project in mind, and maybe the GC and the store owner are slobs, too. Maybe they needed and got the job priced cheap. 
But the fact remains: I was not impressed. In today’s instant gratification/expectation world, impressions—be they in person, on your website or on your truck—will drive business to or away from you faster than ever.
The author is publisher of Glass Magazine. Write her at nharris@glass.org.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How to Stay Ahead of Your Competitors!

Maintaining the status quo in a changing construction economy is the "kiss of death".

To make sure your company is embracing change, maximizing sales and profits as well as staying ahead of your competitors you need:
  • Effective Strategic Planning Process
  • Effective Execution of a formal Strategic Plan
  • Enhanced Employee Engagement and Accountability
To determine if your company is prepared for a challenging future, just answer these basic "yes" or "no" questions:

Does the company have an effective annual strategic planning process?

Is there a formal one-page plan being executing throughout the entire employee organization that has everyone focused on what is required to succeed and are all employees held accountable?

Has the company identified ways to enhance the engagement of both management and staff in the process of strategic planning and execution of the plan?

If you answered "no" to two of these basic questions, then your company needs to make serious changes. If you answered "no" to three, then your company REALLY must change and you must initiate these changes as soon as possible.

How do you feel about your answers? What questions can I answer?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Be More Successful in Challenging Times

The theme of our discussions is how to be more successful in challenging times.  

As we know, the current economy presents serious challenges for all of us.  We can either accept reality or we can do something about it.  Doing nothing other than what we have traditionally done should not be an option!

Our focus should be on new and different approaches to conducting business as well as how we can achieve positive results that impact your bottom line, motivate your employees and make customers want to do business with you.  This may require us to embrace the unconventional or non-traditional ways of doing business.

With these thoughts in mind, I’ve got a thought provoking question to ask you.

What are you doing differently to not just survive, but to succeed?

Post your comments below or email tipsntricks@glass.org.