Meet Your 2015 Dealers of the Year

Sponsored by the Window and Door Dealers Alliance
Introduction by Emily Kay Thompson; winner profiles by Stacey Freed
October 28, 2015
FEATURE ARTICLE | Strategies & Practices

OVERALL EXCELLENCE: LEADERSHIP IN THE HOMEOWNER MARKET

Feldco Windows, Siding and Doors

www.4feldco.com, Des Plaines, Ill.

President and CEO Doug Cook and his team in the Des Plaines, Ill., warehouse.

Feldco earned Window & Door’s Dealer of the Year award for Excellence in Customer Service in 2009. The attributes that brought the company recognition then—plus strategic thinking—helped it weather the recession and expand its geographic market and customer base over the past six years. “We took on water, but we kept cruising,” says company president Doug Cook. “A lot of people were pulling in [during the recession], but we decided to expand. We grew our selling area, made a major transition in product manufacturing and major investments in technology.”

Quick Stats

Leadership
Doug Cook, president

2014 Sales volume
$50 million

Employees
200

Customer-Centric Practices

Feldco, which was started in Chicago in 1976 by Bernie Feld, now has eight showroom locations in Chicago, Des Plaines, Rockford and Peoria in Illinois; Davenport, Iowa; and Cudahy, Madison, and Menasha in Wisconsin.

While the company may now sell to more customers, to keep those customers, Feldco believes it has to have a continued commitment to customer service. Feldco’s mission statement and its “Five Keys to Success” both mention “customer delight.”

“We go above and beyond to delight customers,” says marketing director Patti Freko. Once an appointment is set, Feldco sends the prospect an email confirmation with a bio and photo of the sales representative who will be going to the home. “And we send a ‘fun fact,’ such as ‘He likes pizza,’” Freko says. “This establishes a relationship right away. Once the sale is made there’s a communication thanking [customers] for their order. We probably communicate far more [often] and more effectively with customers than our competitors.”

Feldco employees donated and installed 40 windows for a renovation project with the New Life Church.

The company also stepped up its financing program and offers a “strong portfolio of different financing lenders to pair with our customers,” says director of finance Uday Khedkar. “We communicate with multiple lenders seamlessly without our field people having to call.”

When a project is finished, Feldco has a third-party survey company follow up with a phone call and get a rating from customers. “Every employee’s compensation is tied to the rating,” Freko says. “We make sure that everyone in the company is delighting the customer. To get a 10 rating, the project has to go seamlessly and everyone has to work together.”

Doug Cook meets with teammates at company headquarters. All employees operate by the company’s Five Keys to Success—customer delight, teamwork, accountability, professionalism and productivity. (All images courtesy of Feldco.)

Employees are presentable, professional and courteous. A corporate trainer works with them in-house for sales training as well as product training. “All our employees are trained on our products and services so they can answer any questions,” Freko says. All those delighted customers show Feldco the love through a formal referral program that’s now approximately 35 percent of its business.

Secrets to Success

  • Focus on communication: how often, how effective and how memorable is your correspondence with customers?
  • Consider financial incentives for employees that are tied to customers’ experiences.
  • Take care of employees—happy employees lead to happy customers.
  • Consider making investments in technology.
  • Be ready to roll with a Plan B.

The other half of customer service is internal—that is, how employees are treated. As evidenced by numerous accolades—including being named one of Chicago Tribune’s Top Workplaces five years in a row (2010-2014 inclusive) and Honorable Mention in Crain’s Chicago Best Places to Work (2009)—Feldco has mastered the art of keeping employees accountable and engaged.

Portable Tech

The final piece that helps drive Feldco’s leadership in the homeowner market is an overhaul in its technology. “I’ve been with the company for 15 years,” Cook says, “and every one of those years we’ve invested in technology.”

Most recently, Feldco developed a vertically integrated Customer Relationship Management system optimized to the way it does business. The CRM system allows Feldco to analyze interactions with its customers in real time. The company reports that this enables it to offer better products with better prices and faster delivery times—a huge competitive advantage. A big part of the system is the use of tablets. “All the sales reps and the field people have [them],” Khedkar says, which is about 80 people.

Corporate training manager Marcus Daily and sales manager Tony Pasko prepare new tablets for use by sales and operations teams. The tablets integrate CRM and ERP and streamline Feldco’s process overall.

The sales staff can calculate costs right away, simplifying the sales appointment. “What took 20 minutes is now almost instantaneous, and we [in the office] don’t need to worry about misreading handwriting,” Freko says. Field technicians bring the tablets with them and input measurements. “What used to be pieces of paper with measurements floating around the office is now all on one system. No one has to come back to the office to input something into the system. It’s added a consistency across the board in all our markets.” All the gathered information is tied together with Enterprise Resource Planning software, which connects with Feldco’s accounting system.

Getting ahead of the curve in technology, product manufacturing and customer service has helped Feldco profit. Yet, Cook says he’s not always sure what “the curve” is. “What we try to do is make an earnest effort to always be out there. You’ll never win the game if you’re not on the field. You may lose and make mistakes—and we make plenty of them—but we’re earnest about learning from them and whatever causes them and moving forward. We make it our business to always be able to roll with a ‘Plan B.’”