Zen Windows, in Columbus, Ohio, has forged a reputation by proclaiming it will do everything right that other window replacement companies do wrong.
Replacement Contractor: What made you decide to develop a business model that is the opposite of most window replacement companies out there, as well as the ones you compete with?
Dan Wolt: I worked for a home improvement company for well over a decade, with 200 employees and canvassers and telemarketers. It just killed me. I thought: My wife's a dentist. She's not running around knocking on someone's door. Why do I have to be chasing people down with canvassers and telemarketers? Why not let them come to me? So I changed my business model. I look for prospects who are actively seeking to replace their windows, who want to do business with a professional, who are tired of bait-and-switch ads.
RC: Why "Zen"?
DW: Actually, I went to an ad agency. I said: This is my philosophy of doing business. I want to give customers a good product, great installation, a fair price, and not play any games. And I want to make sure the installation is seamless. I won't take any money until the job is done and they're satisfied. So we came up with 100 different names. That was the most appealing. Zen is very black and white. And I've had so many clients say, "We called because we love your name." Zen Windows is a name no one forgets.
RC: What do you do that's that different?
DW: I never cancel an appointment. If they schedule, I'm there. I don't confirm appointments either. We make an appointment, we have an agreement.
The second thing is, when I say on my website that I can give them a price in five minutes, I mean just that. I've been doing this for 20 years so I don't need to measure. I see what the clients want to do, I look at the actual openings, I describe the options, and I give them a price. By 10 a.m. this morning, I had already seen three clients.
The third thing is, I don't drop price. I offer a quality product and they know they're getting a great job done. So this is the price. If I started dropping price, it would destroy my brand. So no sales, no pricing games, none of that jazz.
And a huge one is: I never take a down payment. [Homeowners will] whip out the checkbook and say: How much do you want, Dan? I say until you see what I can do and have a smile on your face, you don't have to pay. That gives the client a lot of leverage. They know I'm not going to take the check and be gone. They also know that I'm capitalized if I can do a $15,000 job with no money down. It's a huge comfort level.