Surviving the Winter Lull in the Glass Industry
I’m from Seattle. There is nothing worse than a dark, wet winter day when the dampness goes through you. I found, though, as a Glass Doctor franchisee that winter can be a very profitable time of year.
As a Glass Doctor, I had the opportunity to have a balanced business – not just one relying on the auto side of the business. I also learned that our attitude going into the winter months was a strong predictor of how our season would go. From 2003 to 2010 we experienced unmatched growth in the 52-year history of Glass Doctor – even during the winter months. We decided we were going to be busy and did the things necessary to achieve our goal. Here are some examples:
Winter is a great time of year to focus on heavy glass shower doors. All of my specialists appreciated it when they could spend days inside installing showers.
During the winter months we focused on our apartment business. We were aggressive when it came to calling on the right leasing companies. We gave great service. We also took the approach that we would be aggressive with our pricing – and to never lose a job to “pricing” if it could still be profitable to us. Our goal was to keep our specialists busy during those winter months so that we could go into the busy months with a full staff and ready to run.
I loved taking care of our people and encouraged them to take their vacations and time off during those winter months.
During those winter months I also learned to manage specialist hours closely. They appreciated working for a company who we keep them employed throughout the year and worked well with us during those months. Glass Doctor customers KNEW that we would take care of them better than any other glass company. This meant more referral business.
The biggest advice I can give anyone is to watch the numbers during these months. And I mean watch them very closely. Monitor your closing results on incoming calls. Track your closing percentages of your specialists when they are quoting in the field. Be timely when it comes to calling people back after giving a quote. Don’t let anything fall through the cracks. That is how one can grow when so many other glass businesses are retreating.
Everyone on our staff knew it was EVERYBODY’S business to keep everybody working throughout the entire winter. Having that attitude was similar to the Three Musketeer’s challenge: All for one and one for all! We believed this and we lived it.In my role today as Vice President of Operations for Glass Doctor I enjoy working with franchisees throughout North America and sharing these insights. We took a failing glass repair operation and in seven years made it one of the most profitable in the system. When I sold the business it was because I wanted to – not because I needed to. With a goal of helping other Glass Doctor franchisees, I’ve found my VP role accomplishes this. The best advice one can get is by talking to someone who has been in his or her shoes!