Unlike roofing or windows, where obvious product differences exist, consumers often think of vinyl siding as a generic product. There's little or no brand awareness and, in the homeowner's eyes, not much to distinguish one panel from the next. Not much, that is, except price. And when the price starts dropping, the profits drop right along with it.
Job for Sale Experienced siding contractors point out that there's more than one way to differentiate the siding line your company sells. “The siding is not the product,” points out Plaistow, N.H., replacement contractor Marc Sylvain. “The siding job is the product.”
In presentations, Sylvain and his salespeople explain that the job as installed by Sylvain Contracting includes removal and replacement of existing siding — something one-truck operators are often loathe to do — and that the company installs siding in such a way as to allow for moisture to pass through the building envelope. Sylvain also assures customers of thorough cleanup afterwards.
Charles Gorse, general manager at Southern Siding and Window Co., in Augusta, Ga., says Southern sells “an exclusive siding system” which includes, among other quality-enhancing features, a metal — as opposed to plastic — starter strip, a custom trim package, and contoured foam backing.
“We're selling you a vinyl system,” Gorse says, “where we can make your house waterproof, weather proof, and completely maintenance-free.”
Quality Touch Phil Sutko, owner of Innovative Window & Siding, in Lincoln, Neb., says Innovative's salespeople similarly stress the quality of the installation. Innovative backs it up with a 20-year labor warranty, rare for vinyl siding jobs. The company's presentation book features photos of bad vinyl jobs side by side with those by Innovative, which exemplify its quality standards. “I'm not selling the product; I'm selling the company,” Sutko says. “We've had seven years of seven crews doing a job a week, and no complaints to the Better Business Bureau.” Reputation is convincing. Gorse points out that prospects become customers at the point where they're convinced that value overwhelmingly trumps price. “If you can show them that,” he says, “you can win that deal.”