Volume 47, Issue 4 - April 2012

ShopSavvy

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 innovators.Ē

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.

Endlessly Innovative
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 ahead.

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 whole point!

Get Online
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 28).

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 a double-header!

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 at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com.



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