As more and more dealers rush into installed sales, many are looking to open new windows of opportunity—literally. Whether they are serving custom home builders, production builders, or consumers, many pro suppliers are finding that it makes good business sense to offer a window installation program that can help improve construction quality, cut down on costly callbacks, reduce their liability concerns, and boost overall home buyer satisfaction.
No doubt, the prospects are good for this installation market, especially for those dealers that have a high level of knowledge and skill. And because there are so many different types of windows available today, installation increasingly is becoming a specialty field.
All this creates a wide range of opportunities and many niche markets for both lumberyards and specialty dealers. But to capitalize on them, you have to pick your customers carefully, hone your growth strategies correctly, and focus on adding a high level of expertise to the job.
To find out how installed window sales can beef up the bottom line for different types of dealers, PROSALES went behind the scenes at Lummus Supply Co., a full-service lumberyard, and Windows & Doors by Brownell, a smaller specialty dealer/installer with a strong consumer base that is expanding into the builder market. Both of these companies are approaching the professional market from different ends of the spectrum, but both expect installed window sales to continue growing strong in their respective markets.
Company: Lummus Supply Co.
Year founded: 1925
Number of locations: 8
Number of employees: 146
2003 gross sales: $51.9 million
Pro sales percentage: 95 percent
Selling windows in the Atlanta market is not always easy. Framers often are the installers and frequently, “they beat those windows to death,” in their hurry to get done and move on to the next job, explains Will Lummus of Atlanta-based Lummus Supply Co., which had sales of $51.9 million in 2003.
That was one reason why Lummus Supply found itself plagued with callbacks for problems that in almost every case were the result of faulty installations. The company was losing valuable time and so were builders who had to chase down the responsible party to fix the problems. It was time to resolve the issue and a turning point for the business, so last year Lummus decided to begin selling windows installed to its builder customers.
It was a logical step for this 79-year-old, family-owned business, which began offering installed sales three years ago with locks, mirrors, showers, shutters, window screens, and housewrap, says Lummus, a fourth-generation family member who manages the company's installation programs. He pushed hard to get into installed window sales as a solution to the callback problem, and the company now sells and installs its own shop-built windows plus windows manufactured by Hurd and Moss.
Total millwork sales in 2003, including doors, was some $12 million, says Lummus, a volume well worth protecting from any perception of less-than-ideal performance for any reason. In addition, he believes he recognized and acted on a broad-based and growing trend among his builder customers who want to one-stop shop. “When the windows come from us and the installation comes from us, if there's a problem, [the builder] only has to pick up the phone and call one person,” Lummus says.
Additionally, many of the builders that Lummus Supply serves were beginning to find it increasingly difficult to hire labor with the necessary skills and experience to install a variety of different windows correctly. To address this need, the dealer decided to form a strategic alliance with a local expert. A Touch of the Master, based in Acworth, Ga., has been installing windows directly for builders (some of whom were Lummus Supply customers) for six years, says owner Brad Rednour. When Lummus Supply's salespeople and some customers brought the quality of Rednour's work to Will Lummus' attention, it wasn't long before the two firms began talking of a partnership.