Mike Magden's office is not exactly an executive suite. No Oriental rugs, no rosewood, no mini-bar. In fact, with papers, books, reports, and videotapes all over the place, it's two steps short of a mess.
“Let's look at some of those tapes,” he says.
The tapes, hundreds of them, stacked on the floor or stowed in boxes, are 30-second commercials, most featuring a near-manic Magden as “Mikey,” Regency Windows' spokesman. The commercials center on various scenarios —one with a buxom model proclaiming the benefits of double-hung windows, for instance, caused a commotion and was pulled — but all end on the same rattling note.
“I'm gonna save you a lotttaaa money,” says Mikey, who looks and sounds as if he's been drinking a lotttaaa coffee.
Say what you want about them, the commercials get your attention. And that, of course, is the point. If Regency's growth is any indication, Cleveland homeowners appear to be taking Mikey at his word. In 1998, the year the commercials were launched, the company installed an estimated 20,000 windows for sales of $10.5 million. Last year, Regency sold almost $20 million worth of product.
Tough Market When Magden's father, Melvin, started the company 31 years ago, Regency installed carpet. That was it.
“People would say, ‘Do you know anybody who does windows?'” Magden, who worked as a salesman for his father at the time, recalls. “And I said, ‘Yeah. ”Me.'”
Today, Regency Windows takes vinyl siding and cabinet refacing jobs — about 15% of its sales — but vinyl windows are the company's mainstay.
Of course, Regency is far from the only window replacement company in Cleveland. Magden pulls the Cleveland Yellow Pages out of a drawer and drops it on his desk to make the point that some 191 companies vie for the attention of consumers looking to replace their windows. Cleveland, he says, is “a very, very tough market.”
Competing against all those other companies, plus the host of one-truck operators who never even make it as far as the Yellow Pages, requires a serious differentiation strategy. Regency's is to assure homeowners that the product will be installed right, the first time, by people they can trust to have in their homes. To back that up, 43 of the company's installers — there are 26 two-man crews — are certified in the InstallationMasters program, meaning they've taken the installation course offered by the InstallationMasters Institute (administered through York, Pa.–based Architectural Testing), been tested, and been issued certification. According to Architectural Testing, Regency has more certified installers listed on the InstallationMasters Web site than any other window company in the United States. Vice president of operations, Richard Kasunic, says that certification is now mandatory for their installers. In addition to the InstallationMasters certification, 10 crew leaders are Certified Lead Carpenters — a designation offered by the National Association for the Remodeling Industry after instruction and testing. Others have taken training through the Professional Remodelers of Ohio, a Cleveland-based association.
Kasunic points out that “anybody can drop a window in a hole, screw it in, and caulk.” But when it comes to installing with certified crews, he claims, “we're it in Cleveland.”
The company installs about 80% of its window products with its own employees. At the end of every installation, Regency mails each customer a survey. Magden says that 60% to 70% of customers return theirs. (Last year, some 1,900 came back, out of almost 3,000 installations.) The survey ranks all aspects of Regency's performance: sales, product, installation. They also yield the kind of hands-on information that allows management to stay on top of a large, far-flung operation. Because of its marketing, Regency has a lot riding on the promise of low prices, quality products, and professional installation.
“Only one person opens those surveys,” Magden says, shoving the Yellow Pages back in the drawer. “Me.”