A Contractor’s Advice for Landing Window Replacement Work
With more competition every day, here’s how to anticipate a homeowner’s needs and get hired.
Especially with the popularity of sites like Angie’s List and NextDoor, homeowners have plenty of options for window and door replacement work. Having options is always nice, but choice can be overwhelming, and it also means you’ll need to work harder to convince them to choose your services over your local competition.
Jesse Kreisman, Digital Marketing Manager and Sales Manager for Marvin Authorized Replacement Contractor ALCO Products Inc. has seen his family’s company succeed with a new approach to sales calls—to the tune of more than 100,000 installations of replacement windows, roofing and other products to-date.
Here, he shares five tips on how to seal the deal on a window or door replacement job without dropping your prices.
1. Proactively seek positive reviews and project images.
Homeowners want positive referrals. When you have a happy customer, ask them to write you a review or provide their contact information for future customers. Take photos of the job and put them on your website. If you have a customer that’s satisfied five or ten years down the line, it’s an even stronger example.
“For every sales call, we bring in a referral list with a picture book of jobs we’ve done, including before and after photos,” says Kreisman. “It’s a good follow-up to say—yes, we have all of these projects online, but here are actual customers you can speak to, or properties you can drive by.”
2. Make it about the homeowner first, not you and your company.
Kreisman and his small sales team use a “two-call close” method. At the first visit, no product is discussed—it’s all about the homeowner, the issues they are experiencing and what they need. Based on what they learn, they return with a full proposal and talk specifics.
“Most contractors start out all about them and why the windows they sell are great,” says Kreisman. “Instead, we start with a needs assessment to see what they are actually looking for. You are there to help the homeowner, not just sell them on whatever you are offering.”
Homeowners are always going to be worried about service and follow-up. They hear horror stories about contractors who complete a job and then disappear. This is why Kreisman gives his personal cell phone number to his customers and makes sure he answers their calls or returns them promptly, even on a Saturday.
“No one likes to talk about ‘what if something goes wrong,’ but being willing to address this head on and talk about it will bring a homeowner’s anxiety down.” says Kreisman.
3. Don’t underestimate the importance of professionalism and a good first impression.
Homeowners may, fair or not, judge the quality of a company by the way they present themselves at a first meeting. Professionalism at every step of their experience can go a long way in setting a company apart. Kreisman and his colleagues make sure that customers get consistently top-notch service, from navigating their website, to a friendly voice on the phone when they call to make their first appointment.
“We come in and we are professional, we’re not the guy in ripped jeans and a t-shirt,” says Kreisman. “We are on time for appointments, everyone comes in khakis or dress pants and a company-branded shirt to the sales call. When an appointment is scheduled, we send a follow-up email to confirm and show a picture of who will be coming to the house. When we come to the house, we leave it clean.”
4. Let your proposal justify your rates.
A higher quote is easier for a homeowner to swallow when they understand the overhead costs that will protect their investment. Review the insurances you hold. Talk about staff training you or your staff has completed. List awards your company has received. Talk about the reputable manufacturers you work with and the skilled installers you employ. Include every bell and whistle—even those that seem like table stakes—like putting drop cloths down to protect furniture and repainting trim that has been removed.
Another element that’s simply expected these days? A workmanship warranty written in clear terms that’s ready to share with clients. It will ease their mind and demonstrate that you’re proud of the work you do. Kreisman’s company offers a limited lifetime labor warranty, which means a lot for a company that has been in business for over 60 years.
“We used to come in with a two-page handwritten proposal, and we didn’t get as many jobs,” says Kreisman. “Our proposals are pretty detailed and long. There are costs associated with preparing these materials, but if you do the work upfront, you will win the jobs, and you’ll win them at a better price.”
5. Help homeowners understand the terms and concepts they truly care about.
Trying to explain every aspect of window and door replacement could be too overwhelming, so instead, focus on the areas each homeowner truly cares about. If you look at an NFRC sticker, for example, there are a thousand things you can talk about that a consumer might not care about. Zero in on the level of information they want and need, and meet them there.
Come with an overview of various materials and how they contribute to the performance needed for your local climate. Be able to point to brands and models of windows that hold up well and that you’ve had good experiences with over time. Explain the difference between buying vinyl windows from a big box store or going with a company that offers custom solutions and a wider variety of material options.
“Each consumer is different. You might call on an engineer that wants to know exactly how the fiberglass on a Marvin window is made, and you better be ready to talk about it,” says Kreisman. “Or you might get a customer that says ‘if you talk about energy efficiency, I’m going to throw you out, all I care about is sound reduction.’ Be perceptive to these points of differentiation and tailor it to each customer, because they’re all different.”
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