Two Small Sentences
Learn to Pay Attention to the Innovators
by Paul Bieber
Elaine, my wife, occasionally sees a quote that might make
for an interesting article. She gave me this one from businessman David
Duffield just as I was thinking about my article for USGlass: ďThe challenge
isnít to keep your eye on big competitors. Itís to pay attention to the
Wow. In two small sentences our glass industry of the last couple of years
has been defined.
If you are an installer, are you keeping up with the newest product lines?
Are you pushing low-E glass to every customer? Do you know the attributes
of soft-coat and hard-coat low-E? This magazine gives you the details.
Visit the websites of PPG, Guardian, Pilkington and AGC. The information
they offer is astounding. When you better understand low-E, you will be
more comfortable selling it Ö which means more revenue with the same effort.
Today, everyone sells shower doors. If not, your company likely has gone
out of business. But, are you selling the ultra-clear glass, with the
no-scratch coatings? Again, same effort, higher value, and you come out
Are you innovative in how you sell? Are you training your office team
to up-sell? Do your installers consistently ask what else needs work at
a customerís business or home? Have you struck a deal with every home
remodeler in your area so when they notice a patio door with a scratched
or broken glass they recommend you? Is your showroom conducive to selling,
or are you showing pictures of your favorite ball team?
"The big glass shop down the
street will be slow to change. It is much easier for you to innovate."
Maybe you donít want to climb on a roof and install solar
panels, but you should have an arrangement with someone who does, so you
can share leads on businesses and homeowners who want to become energy-efficient
and go off the grid.
Parts of the glass industry are exploding! Decorative glass is selling
like hot dogs at opening day. Every sharp fabricator has offerings for
sandblasted and painted glass. If your fabricator doesnít, the company
is not innovating. Sure, there is still a market for replacing ¼-inch
clear float, but that should be a sideline and not your main business!
Do you install wire glass in fire doors or are you up-selling to the clear
ceramic-type fire-resistant glazing? Yes, it is expensive Ö that is the
Most glass shops have a website. Is it current? Are you on Facebook? Now
you are saying to yourself, ďFacebook is just for young people,Ē and for
the most part you are right. But there sure are a lot of young people
buying houses and installing new windows and upgrading showers. Just because
you donít understand Facebook doesnít mean you shouldnít be involved.
This is the innovation that will set you apart (see related story on page
The big glass shop down the street will be slow to change. It is much
easier for you to innovate. Get your fabricators to give your salespeople
an education on new products. Visit every architect you can Ö donít wait
for the quotes to come to you, go chase them!
Now you are probably saying that there is no business out there. There
is business out there Ö it is just harder to find! Hospitals, education
and government buildings are still growing. Chase these jobs early on.
Look at building permits at the town halls in the areas you work in. Study
all you can about LEED points. This is the key to selling to savvy homeowners.
Hold an open house at your shop and invite your fabricators to set up
displays about innovative products. Invite every local architect, real
estate agent and building management firm. This not only forces you to
make your shop look perfect, but you will gain customers. Thatís winning
Ask your current customers to offer a name of someone who might use your
services. If the customer has a friend who uses you because of the recommendation,
send a donation to the original customerís favorite charity!
Yes, times are rough. Be innovative and you will succeed. If not, itís
been nice knowing you.
Paul Bieber has 30 years in the glass industry, including
21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge,
N.Y., from which he retired in 2005. You can read his blog on Tuesdays
© Copyright 2012 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.