Are Customers Willing to Pay for More?
Survey Results for 05/27/2009:
Does price matter less than it did 10 years ago?
Yes, people want more features and will pay more to get them.
No, price is still king with most customers.
Some market segments have changed, others have not.
It's a bit reassuring to see the industry agrees with me and generally sees consumers (if not builders) willing to pay more for window and door products. People want energy efficient products–or may have to buy them to meet code. They opt for aesthetic upgrades–ranging from woodgrain fiberglass doors to SDLs to higher end hardware.
Still, based on some responses I received, perhaps I should be a little bit cautious in suggesting there's been a huge change in consumer attitudes.
"We are a company that has offered products that have beat the 30/30 tax credit requirements for over 15 years. We have always been one of the highest priced products, competitive, close, but higher though not a rip off like many companies out there," Jerry M Hartman of Gilkey Window Co. "Eighty-three percent of our customers have competitive quotes. There is always a new competitor that tries to mess up the market–the big box stores, the $189 people, fly by night new name every summer canvas companies, and so on. There is a segment of the market that will always take the lowest price. We market to the type of consumer we want. We work the neighborhoods where we are successful. We have found that people will pay more for a superior insulating product, woodgrains, or decorative items like blinds in the airspace. We recently introduced a European line of products that has surpassed our expectations. In order to sell for more than the competition a company must not only provide superior products but professional sales techniques, showroom, samples, receptionist, and most of all service. It takes commitment to install and service better than the competition. The customer must be happy. Happy customers will recommend you. To finish one of the best tools to sell higher than your competition is to ask for more money, just ask."
"Price has always been part of the buying equation but in today's market we are seeing price taking a stronger position," Tim Walker of American Building Supply's Arizona Window Division. "Builders still expect to get the service, but don't always have a budget that will allow them to pay extra for it. With the declining values of homes it's more difficult for custom builders to the same square foot price that they were getting in the past 10 years. The one thing that we need to remember though is that most quality builders understand the value of extra services and it's up to us as sales professionals to remind them of these values. They may not be able to pay as much but providing quality service now will go a long way to creating lasting relationships for when the economy turns around."
Very few people are eager to pay more than they have to for a product, it's clear. But manufacturers, distributors and dealers are increasing the value of window and door products–and their service offerings–and that value is being recognized.