Volume 11, Issue 6 - July/August 2010

feature

Face Lift
A Dealer’s Progressive Showroom Remodeling Strategy Pays Off
by Samantha Carpenter

 

Fast Facts
Company Name: McDaniel Window & Door
Location: Florence, Ala.
Contractor: Greg Tyon of Gilchrist Builders
Project: Storefront and Showroom Remodel
Company Owners: Mike and Tommy McDaniel
Interior Designer: Sadonna Patterson
Approximate Price of Project: $140,000
Project Timeline: 1 year
Showroom Size: 3,000 square feet
Shop and Storage Size: 9,000 square feet
Employees: Ten full-time
Installers: Six full-time

McDaniel Window & Door in Florence, Ala., is like other door and window dealers around the country. It, too, has been affected by a slower economy. Last year the company grossed $2.3 million in sales, and this year, the company is on track to reach the same amount. These sales are still short of the company’s highest annual sales of $2.8 million, which was at the height of the housing boom four to five years ago.

During these slower years, McDaniel Window & Door hasn’t sat by idly. The dealer has remodeled its showroom, and shared its experience—the trials, errors and benefits—with DWM/Shelter magazine.

Nothing But Praise
“I see what you’re doing, and it’s great for the city. I don’t need any doors and windows right now, but it makes me want to shop.” Comments like this one are what Joel Meadows says employees hear all the time over the phone. Meadows serves as inside and new construction salesperson for the company.

“The outside of the showroom has made more of a difference and has drawn them in like a magnet. People come in just to see the building, and then we have a captive audience,” says sales manager Will Little.

Captive customers are exactly what McDaniel Window & Door was looking for when they took on remodeling their showroom one and a half years ago.

And while some dealers might think McDaniel Window & Door was crazy for undergoing this storefront and showroom facelift during an economic slowdown, owners and brothers Mike and Tommy McDaniel couldn’t disagree more.

“It was a good opportunity for us to do that. We worked right through that (the slowing economy),” says Mike McDaniel. “We didn’t shut down; we were here everyday.”

"When potential customers visit the showroom, they realize that just because they have an oak door, they don’t have to put in oak flooring, too. They can put in tile flooring or something that will enhance colors within a room, and they can mix woodgrains. They don’t have to just stay with one type of wood or color."
—Mike McDaniel, co-owner


A Pesky Leak
But the project wasn’t without issues.

“For years, water had filtered through the wall in the showroom, and we couldn’t find the leak,” explains McDaniel. “We thought it was flashing or something. Our contractor, Greg Tyon, had someone come to look at it and they found that the leak was due to some cracks in the concrete wall, and they repaired that problem.”

The company found some other small cracks, so McDaniel had them come back again.

“We wanted to make sure that was done before we put the mahogany around the windows on the inside because all of that had to be custom-made,” he says.

Not only did the company use the Mahogany products that it sells in its showroom, but it also utilized many of the other products that it sells.

“Our front door is the Carriage House Door off the Biltmore Estate for Your Home by MAI, which is made out of cherry. Our restroom doors, the closet doors and the door going upstairs are made by MAI, too, and they are the distressed walnut. In my office are mahogany doors,” says McDaniel.

Give Them a Visual
To make sure their showroom and storefront was as aesthetically pleasing as possible, McDaniel Window & Door hired interior designer Sadonna Patterson. With the help of Patterson, McDaniel says when customers walk into the showroom, they realize they can mix and match different products together.

“They realize that just because they have an oak door, they don’t have to put in oak flooring, too. They can put in tile flooring or something that will enhance colors within a room, and they can mix woodgrains,” McDaniel says. “They don’t have to just stay with one type of wood or color.”

"The outside of the showroom has made more of a difference and has drawn them in like a magnet. People come in just to see the building and then we have a captive audience."
—Will Little, sales manager

Not only can customers view products in the showroom, but there also are literature displays about products. A professional video continuously runs on the main aisle about past company construction projects.

McDaniel explains that the video was filmed and edited by someone locally. In it customers discus their remodeling and new construction projects, and highlight the service and quality that those customers received from McDaniel Window & Door.

“We used the video a lot. If somebody is talking about replacement windows, we can freeze it and show them what the window looks like,” McDaniel explains. “It’s very comforting to a customer when they see the work that you have done.”

Custom builder Bobby Bryan of Bryan Housing, a 15-year customer of McDaniel Window & Door, agrees. “Whenever you send a customer to look at a product, it makes a customer feel more reassured about what they are buying when they walk into a nice establishment,” Bryan says. “The new showroom is laid out better and they have more products in there.”

Right Here, Right Now
“We worked right here in the middle of it,” McDaniel says. “If a nail gun went off, you just jumped. You just had to suffer through it. There was a lot of dirt and dust every day, but we would cover things up and try to move from one side to the other. Now we have a completely remodeled showroom. We have new computer systems, phone system and security system—we just wanted to update everything.”

The company isn’t just relying on its showroom to bring in customers.

“We feel like the economy is promising. Our area was not hit like some of [the] larger cities,” he says. “We don’t see the huge increase in markets when everything is going good, but then we don’t see as large of a decline … We try to be a little more aggressive in our advertising.”

This remodeling project has given McDaniel a sense of what his customers feel like.

“A lot of times, the customer gets to a point in their remodel where they don’t care if the lock costs $39 or $42; they are concerned with getting it to the jobsite and getting the job completed. It helps you realize the customer’s needs as well. We never want to overlook staying competitive, but that’s not the only customer need out there. Customers need you to get the product to them in a timely manner,” he explains.

McDaniel says that if he could do the remodel all over again, he wouldn’t have waited so long. “I would have urged the process along faster, but we had to wait on the tile to get through before we could put the carpet in. We had to wait on our windows to come in before we could stain the mahogany trim and get it installed. I would have been a little more organized and got it done in a lot less time,” he says.

A positive outcome of the project taking its time is that customers around town enjoyed watching the process. “It was worth the wait,” he says.

Samantha Carpenter is a contributing writer for DWM magazine.

View DWM’s Showroom Showcase online. Visit http://www.dwmmag.com/index.php/slideshow/


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