Will Penguin Story Have an Impact?

Christina Lewellen
February 16, 2011
THE TALK...

News emerged recently that Penguin Windows, one of the largest home improvement companies in the country and a past Window & Door Dealer of the Year, swiftly and unexpectedly closed down its corporate headquarters and drastically downsized its operations. A company official attributed the move to market weakness, according to at least one local press report, but it's hard not to think the legal issues the company faced were at least a contributing factor.

Last year, Penguin settled a complaint with the Washington State Attorney General's Office. Penguin had been accused of misrepresenting its products, making false claims about the energy savings customers would achieve, and misleading consumers into thinking that the in-home appointments they set up with Penguin were something other than sales calls. While the company admitted no wrong-doing, it agreed to tone down its marketing approach.

Years ago, when I interviewed company executives for the Dealer of the Year profile, Penguin was described as aggressive in its sales approach, but the leadership asserted that cost-conscious customers benefitted from its high-volume business model and systematic approach to installation. Whether you agree with Penguin's aggressive sales approach or not, do you think the company's story will have an impact on how other window and door dealers decide to go to market? Will some companies back off from more aggressive sales tactics?

Please take a moment to vote in my poll this week and let me know if you're changing your ways or if you think other dealers are. Are changes driven by legal concerns or do other methods simply work better with homeowners today? Post a comment or send me an email if you'd like to share what you're seeing.

Survey Results as of 02/21/2011:

 

Are legal suits targeting aggressive sales tactics having an impact on home improvement dealers' marketing strategies?

Not yet, but they probably will.

  

 

43%

Yes

  

 

35%

No

  

 

22%

The results are split this week, and I think that this topic is, indeed, one that will divide a room. As the reader below points out, high-pressure sales tactics can have a significant impact on consumers. In all the years I've been meeting with window and door dealers, I've never run across a single company that was excited to walk into a home after a competitor's aggressive sales pitch to be greeted by wary and skittish homeowners. I guess time will tell whether dealers will alter their marketing approaches, and the extent to which consumers will continue to tolerate such tactics.

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

Comments

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 I say The spit of the pacesetter corp sent alot of this kind of its the only thing I know looking for jobs

but the day of the 3 hour pitch and over priced products is going slowly away kind of like the last of the dinosaur as they slowly drift off into the sun set

Hmmm. Does anyone remember the movie, "Tin Men"? For me, it was an historial fiction, based in truth, but using fictional characters. The remodeling industry seems to have been a magnet for charlatans and scoundrels dating back to the 1950s, and, unfortunately, seems to be so yet today. The only difference I can see today is that the claims,in addition to being made at the street level, are made higher up the corporate ladder.

I cannot speak directly of Penguin but I know the type very well. Those who fit that mold here in California are not really window people. They are preditors who employ any and all the high pressure tactics that can be found in most business where in-home sales are common. Their targets are usually the elderly and single parent families that are more prone to give in to intimidation and deception.

They lie about the product, warrentees, the compitition,the installation and even the final price. They will do anything to make a sale. 

On more than one occasion, we have come in behind one of these types and were told that the customer had to call the police out in order to get the salesperson to leave their home.

These types are responsable for causing the public view and opinion of the window and door industry to see us as more like used car salesmen than professional remodelers.

Perhaps your standard for dealer of the year should be based on more than total sales volume as the primary indicator of a company's integrity.

I say, good riddance to them all, and the sooner the better for our industry. 

 You are right and for years I had the displeasure of making it to vp OF ONE OF THOSE COMPANIES