At the beginning of this year, one of Chicago's largest window replacement companies, The Window Guys, dispensed with its required minimum number of windows per job. Now, says company president Lloyd Gillman, The Window Guys will take a one-unit or two-unit job, which it installs using company crews, even though, he adds, that policy has resulted in a lower average sale this year.
The reason? The company is confident that its sales reps can convince customers to finish replacing the windows in that home, either then or later. “We've found,” Gillman says, “that we get the referral business and they'll usually come back to do other [windows].”
COSTS EAT YOU UP
So-called “partials” or “onezies and twozies,” are rarely profitable because they cost as much to set up and service as bigger jobs. Paul Panagiotidis, president of Total Home Construction Corp., in the Long Island town of Plainview, cites congested roads and the price of gas for his company's policy of a six-window minimum. The only way he could make money installing fewer windows, Panagiotidis says, is by charging twice as much per unit. “By the time you're through paying all the insurances, it's just not worth it,” he says. But Total Home Construction does make exceptions for previous customers and referrals.
In addition, companies that subcontract their installation are unlikely to find installers willing to take one- to two-unit jobs. “My guys are going to go there because they're sent there,” says Jim Lett, owner of A.B.E. Doors & Windows, in Allentown, Pa., which estimates and installs small jobs. “A sub is not going to go there because it's not worth it.”
ALL OR NOTHING? NOTHING
Some companies view partials as an opportunity to wow the customer and assess possibilities for performing other work, thereby landing a bigger sale. Energy Swing Windows in Murraysville, Pa., has always cheerfully installed jobs of all sizes. In 2003 the company generated 37% of its leads from repeat/referral; today it gets 70.3% of leads from that source. “Everything we do has a marketing connotation,” says vice president Paul Darragh.
Lett points out that there's much goodwill to be earned by providing estimates for any window job. “They'll remember you because you came out for one window when other people wouldn't.”