May 2005 Table of Contents

Featured Articles
Fair Game

Every year, we generate about a fifth of our sales -- roughly $800,000 out of a total of $3.6 million -- from leads we get participating in one event, the California Mid-State Fair. Read more

Pay Up

During his first decade with Garden State Brickface, Windows & Siding, in Roselle, N.J., Doug Jimmink sold under seven different compensation plans. Jimmink, a 21-year company veteran who now heads marketing and sales, adds that when he joined Garden State, commissions were all over the map, ranging from 5% to 18%, which left some salespeople confused and skeptical about the system's fairness. Read more

Pneumatic Nailer Safety Jobsite Pneumatic Nailer Safety

By now you've probably heard about, or even seen for yourself, the common accidents caused by unsafe use of pneumatic nailers. Read more

Reality Checks

Hiring is risky. It isn't simply that your prospect could be incompetent. Far worse, imagine he or she were hired and then became a major liability to you and your company. Your customers call your references. Why wouldn't you check up on a prospective hire? Read more

Team Sport Team Sport

Team building and hands-on management have made this Connecticut home improvement company a $10-million player. Read more

Big Game Hunting Big Game Hunting

Mike Gilkey got into commercial window installation for the simplest of all possible reasons: to keep his crews busy during the cold months. A few years ago, Gilkey, whose company has four locations in three states and produces its own windows out of a 50,000-square-foot plant in Cincinnati, began putting the vinyl windows he manufactures, as well as other windows, in office buildings and condominiums of anywhere from 3 to 20 or more stories. Today, his company operates a separate division, Gilkey Commercial, which accounts for approximately 15% of Gilkey's $22 million in sales. Read more

Can We Talk?

A salesman goes to work for the competition, after angrily charging his old boss with holding back thousands in commissions. A long-simmering feud between installers erupts in front of a customer. An employee quits for no discernible reason; two months later, charges of sexual harassment -- more specifically, creating a hostile workplace environment -- are filed against the company and one of its managers. Read more

Thanks for the Advice

Your struggling new salesperson comes in with a contract for roofing, siding, and windows. Great news! And this job is in a county you haven't worked in before, which opens up whole new opportunities. Read more

Sideways Slide

Selling is a career that can provide compensation similar to that of law or medicine. The difference is that doctors and lawyers don't get rejected as often as salespeople. Read more

Testing & Testing

Civil libertarians are down on employee profiling, but home improvement contractors are not. They say personality profiling and other hiring-related tests have proved reliable and can provide valuable help in building an effective organization. Read more

Sign Me Up

If you lived in Lincoln, Neb., you might think that Innovative Siding & Windows was the only home improvement company in town. Innovative has developed a, well, innovative campaign to make itself more visible in the community, while also generating leads. Read more

Knock, Knock

Canvassing may well become one of the better marketing methods for companies large and small in this decade. Yet, modern canvassing bears little relation to the canvassing programs of two decades ago, or perhaps even to those of three years ago. Read more

Power of Belief Power of Belief

When Premier Window & Building, in Owings Mills, Md., brought on a line of seamless steel siding, sales manager Jake Jacobson found getting the production process up and running easy compared to convincing the salesforce. One big reason, he says, is that the average steel siding job, as sold by Premier, costs about a third more than vinyl. Read more

Foot in the Door

Some home improvement contractors think replacing one or two windows isn't worth the time, and fend off prospects with minimum order requirements. Read more

I Want to Hold Your Hand

After hiring a sales person who has little or no experience with in-home sales of home improvement products and training him or her in the product and your multi-step technique, you're wondering, "Now what?" Read more

It's Raining

When homeowners call Petkus Bros. about a leak in a sunroom the Rancho Cordova, Calif.-based contractor installed, they often make it sound like Niagara Falls has been unleashed. Read more

The Look of Long

Ask contractors who install seamless vinyl -- i.e., siding panels 40 feet long -- what they like about the product and they're sure to mention the look. The length of the panel --slightly more than three times that of traditional siding -- means it provides an unbroken plane across the walls of most houses. Read more

Slate of Hand

When David Welch, owner/president of Ben Hill Roofing & Siding, in Douglasville, Ga., gives prospects a rough estimate for a slate roof job, they sometimes balk. "The first thing they say is: I didn't want to buy another house." Read more

I Have a Warrant

These days, consumers reasonably expect any expensive product they buy to carry a warranty. That includes decks. Read more

Go for Referrals

It's the easiest way to get another job and the way your customers want to meet you. It costs nothing. Your profitability and closing rate will be higher. The size of that job will be bigger. And customer loyalty will be greater. One more thing: The client who comes through referral is 2.5 times more likely to give you a referral. Read more

A One-Night Stand

The couple, in their mid-30s, had called several roofing companies. The first said someone would phone to set up an appointment. No one did. The second told them they'd drive by and send an estimate. No one did. So the couple turned to an Internet referral service. The service provided the names of three companies. All set appointments. Read more

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