Predictions for an annual average 2.8% growth rate through 2012…
Survey Results for 12/03/2008:
Predictions for an annual average 2.8% growth rate through 2012...
Sound too optimistic
Sound too pessimistic
This week’s survey results offer some pretty mixed signals about confidence within our industry. Clearly, many in our industry don’t expect industry sales to rebound anytime soon. Personally, I don’t know if that’s pessimism or realism, but the response itself did not come as a surprise. I’ve been hearing a lot of negative talk about the next year and even next year or two lately.
I guess I was pleased to see not everyone is expecting the worst, however. More than 40 percent think Freedonia’s right in predicting growth in demand over the next few years, and some people think it might be greater than expected. That would be a nice thing to see.
I received some interesting responses, however, that I wanted to share. They also offer somewhat conflicting viewpoints. Gary Downs of G.L. Downs Design Inc. argues that window and door companies are simply too complacent and need to consider innovation more. “New ideas are what keep the demand for expansion in the factory and cause a desire for customers to buy new products that save them money, help the green movement and appeal to the latest in home decor fashions,” he writes. In an environment where companies should be seeking innovation, he reports that manufacturers have shown little interest in even investigating a glass block lock insulating glass unit his firm has developed.
It’s not the product anymore, argues John Jervis of AWDI LLC, the company that offers installer training and certification programs. “The industry has irrevocably changed,” he warns, with service becoming the primary differentiator. For the short-term, he’s not predicting an upturn anytime soon. He points to the weak economy, lack of available credit, etc., and the fact that ”people have no money or are reluctant to spend what they have.”
So what is a window and door company to do? Here’s Jervis’s advice:
Every window and door sale going forward has to be a sale of money. Give your customer money, and you stand a chance. Money in terms of reduced cost. Money in terms of program-level help. Money in terms of positive ROI. Money in terms of “free” using certain government and utility incentive packages that reward energy savings. An ad about the latest hardware or feature is empty and meaningless. An ad that portends money saving will attract.
Jervis continues by pointing out that the federal tax credit and utility incentive programs can be used by homeowners to pay or help pay for replacement windows in many locales around the country. Window and door companies need to mine these opportunities, he concludes. “Advertise money. Anyone who does this now will be okay and be in position to dominate when consumer confidence returns.”