What Area of Focus Allows Dealers to Excel?

Christina Lewellen
October 12, 2011
THE TALK...
In case you couldn’t tell, we’re pretty excited this week to announce the 2011 class of Dealers of the Year. Like many companies in many industries, our winners have remained nimble and innovative in the last few years to maintain solid footing and grow in spite of challenging economic conditions.
About a month ago, Lowe’s rolled out a new branding strategy. Moving away from its former “Let’s Build Something Together” slogan, the home improvement chain now touts this message: “Never Stop Improving.” This theme certainly connects with our honored dealers—as well as many other window and door dealers across the country. Just as Lowe’s aims to encourage homeowners to never stop improving their homes, window and door retailers succeeding in today’s marketplace have found ways to never stop improving their businesses.
So with the warm-and-fuzzy spirit of best practices and continuous improvement in the air, I thought I’d ask a poll question this week that offers no “all of the above” option. If I were to hold your feet to the fire and ask you to pick only one area of business you believe allows window and door dealers to succeed despite challenging conditions, what would it be? Do excellent marketing companies stand apart? Is the key to success excellence in installation? Is it all about service? Which Dealers of the Year profile are you most interested in reading?
Certainly, we recognize that good retailers must be strong in many aspects of their business. But our Dealers of the Year have certainly found an area or two in which they excel and build business—which do you think is most impactful? Please send an email or post a comment to share.
And, finally, congratulations 2011 Dealers of the Year!  Great job!

Survey Results as of 10/18/2011:

 

To do well in today's market, a dealer must excell in:

Customer service

  

 

52%

Marketing

  

 

35%

Installation

  

 

5%

Technology

  

 

3%

Some other unique differentiator

  

 

3%

Retail/showroom strategy

  

 

2%

It's customer service by a solid majority, folks. That's what this week's poll participants have to say about the area in which dealers should focus their efforts to find long-term success.

As I pointed out, having a successful retail business is certainly a blend of many strengths. But one manufacturer in the industry weighed in with his thoughts about the importance of making customer service the utmost priority at a retail operation:

“When it comes to a retailer's strength, there is absolutely no substitute for polished CSR (customer service reps) staff. If you have poor installation crews, higher than average prices or even, God forbid, crappy products.....your only saving grace is a CSR with good problem-solving skills.”
With many years of experience in the industry, the writer continues:
“Most places don't put much emphasis on their receptionist, but they fail to realize that he/she is the first line of contact with any perspective client. The more at ease the client feels after the first contact, the better your odds of generating a lead or a sale.”

Makes sense to me. I'm sure many of you can join me in sharing experiences about calling a dealer and having a snippy gate-keeper leave a sour taste in your mouth for that company. But I'm happy to report that all of our 2011 Dealers of the Year made great impressions from start to finish with me, and there are certainly lessons to be learned in how they earned the business and respect of the customers they aim to serve.

If you haven't had a chance to check out the stories featuring our 2011 Dealers of the Year, take some time and learn about how they prioritize the strengths of their businesses.

Contact Christina Lewellen, senior editor, at clewellen@glass.org.