Manufacturers Can Do More with Technology in the Selling Process
Atlantic City, NJ—Technology, in addition to products and services, is becoming a decisive factor when dealers and distributors select a manufacturer, said Lynn Hartl, president of WTS Paradigm, speaking at the Northeast Window & Door Association winter meeting yesterday. The event, which drew about 120 industry executives, also featured presentations on new decorative finish processes and moisture management.
Quoting and ordering software is being used by more manufacturers, Hartl noted, but companies using these systems are only beginning to understand how much more flexibility computer-based systems offer in going to market. Without one big price book for every customer and a one-size-fits-all approach, a manufacturer can “slice and dice” its product line to match the strengths of a dealer. This gives the manufacturer the ability, for example, to find another dealer with different strengths or a different niche in the same territory.
Hartl outlined a number of ways moving from traditional price books to electronic quoting systems allows manufacturers to fine tune their sales process, emphasizing that beyond quoting and ordering systems, new technologies for selling are still underutilized by many manufacturers. “You can talk to manufacturers and they know exactly what a welder can do, down to the minute,” he said. “But they may not know what their sales staff is doing next week.”
He urged attendees not just to look at window and door quoting systems, but also such tools as contact management software. Additionally, he noted, companies need to dig deeper into their existing sales data and learn from it. “Why is the quote/order ratio different at dealer one versus dealer two?” he asked. “What products or options are driving sales? Do you think you could sell more windows if you knew the answers to these questions?”
Next on the dais were Dennis Conard and Edward Robb of Metal Cladding Inc., who outlined two new decorative processes for windows and doors. Conard began by explaining the water transfer process that was developed primarily for applying decorative films to automotive interior parts. Starting with a wet film, all types of patterns can be applied to virtually any substrate, including PVC. Additionally, Conard noted, topcoat technology allows the patterns to withstand UV and other weathering effects.
Robb followed up by reviewing the process of thermal transferring an image to aluminum, a technology specifically developed for the window and door industry in Europe. It is being used to apply wood grains, marble effects and even patterns featuring corporate logos into products. Both coating technologies are new to the U.S. market, and the two noted that they, and other coating applicators, were eager to begin exploring possible uses for these technologies in the market here.
Lonnie Haughton, a California-based building consultant, finished the program, reviewing the history behind the problem of mold growth in walls, notably ever-tightening building envelopes. Walls are so tight that any moisture that gets in has no opportunity to get out. Additionally, interior humidity levels continue to increase. These two factors are both contributing to mold growth, and window manufacturers need to understand this, and be able to point it out effectively, or window leaks will continue to be blamed as the source.
The meeting also featured a number of updates on other associations, as well as code activities. Members elected Bill Donnelly of Silver Line Windows as new NWDA president, succeeding Winchester Industries’ Mike Sugrue.
NWDA’s next event, featuring its annual scholarship golf tournament, is scheduled for July 16-17 at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, PA. More information is available at www.nwda.net.