Volume 11, Issue 4 - July/August 2007
The Last Mile
Ask any runner to name the most difficult part of a race, and you will hear a universal answer: the last mile. After all, it’s during the final stretch that the athlete’s preparations and training are challenged most. And it’s the final stretch that determines the winner. In many ways, business is much like a foot race. Success requires planning, training and execution. If the window film industry was a relay race, our “anchor” would be the installer. Yet, despite the fact that the installer runs our all-important last mile, I’ve noticed that in the dozen or so columns I’ve contributed to Window Film magazine, precious few were focused on this all important teammate.
Well that’s about to change. It’s time to cheer the installer—and in particular the installer that knows how to finish strong.
It is not uncommon for manufacturers to invest millions of dollars researching and developing new materials. Nor is it uncommon for distributors to devote significant resources to elaborate training programs. These companies tend to have bigger budgets, more sophisticated equipment and more personnel than local dealers and installers. But when it comes to building the industry’s reputation with the general public, the installer owns the most precious of all commodities: the client’s trust.
Successful installers understand the power of this confidence. They know that what they do with the homeowner’s trust is as important as what they do with their glass. To this end, they view themselves not just as installers, but as ambassadors of an entire industry.
Sure, a quality installation is important for client satisfaction, but many customers hire service providers with the expectation of quality work. Lasting success requires a provider to exceed the expectations of even the toughest customer. To achieve this goal, savvy installers turn even the most routine moments of customer interaction into confidence building events.
In a solar film job, for example, winning installers ensure the homeowner’s valuables are covered; they remove their shoes before walking on carpets; they make certain their equipment is not placed on any furnishings. Why? Because they realize that these courtesies are the keys to customers’ happiness and they know a happy customer will tell others about the experience.
There is no better—or cheaper—form of marketing than word of mouth.
There are, of course, other ways for installers to succeed over the last mile. But this isn’t intended to be a how-to column. Nor is it my intent to expose the “trade secrets” of the most successful dealers. Rather, it’s a chance for all of us to stand on the side of the road and applaud the runner who is taking us all to the finish line: the installer.
Tom Niziolek is director of sales and marketing for Madico Inc. and president of the International Window Film Association (IWFA). Mr. Niziolek’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.