Volume 11, Issue 6 - July/August 2010

From The Publisher

What Do You Track?
by Tara Taffera

During a recent interview with Rick Wuest, president of Thompson Creek Window Co., something struck me. Instead of answering the questions I asked him with generalities, Rick’s hand was always on his computer mouse so he could give exact numbers. He knew how many of his customers were satisfied with their window purchases. He knew every type of financial data including the price of the average window sale, how much that number was up from the previous year—the list goes on. (for more on Thompson Creek see page 30.)

The same is also true for Jim Lett, owner of A.B.E. Windows and Doors. Michael Collins, vice president of the building products group at Jordan Knauff and Co., noticed this when he heard Lett speak at Fenestration Day, held in March 2010. And Collins is a numbers guy—he tracks all kinds of financial data, and speaks to door and window companies all the time.

“That’s the first time I’ve seen a company track so much data, including the age of customers, etc.,” said Collins.
You may be thinking, “So what? Every company should be tracking their data.” If so, that means you’re doing a good job. But not everyone is.

I recently asked the president of one window manufacturing company what percentage of warranty claims his windows had. He said he didn’t track that data as it is a small number. Well, even if it is a small percentage, it could always be lower, so why not track it or least have the information available? And what about assessing trends? If for some reason the warranty claims went up or down at least he would know why.

Why is all of this is so important? When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came out with its lead paint requirements for pre-1978 homes Lett knew exactly what percentage of his jobs would be affected, so he could gauge the effect this would have on his business. Not all companies could say the same.

Aren’t we in a competitive market? Of course, and I’m sure collecting as much data as possible can help us spot trends that can be invaluable in correcting problems and making improvements.

It’s not too late. Start tracking today.

P.S. Though difficult to track, we have seen an alarming trend in our Secret Shopper visits in recent months. There seems to be a disconnect between the service offered by the manufacturer and its dealers. One example of this can been seen on page 36. When shopping for a door, Holly Biller went from thrilled by the service offered by one manufacturer’s customer service rep to less-than-thrilled with the dealer.

Another of our Secret Shopper articles talked about the poor service provided by one dealer. The manufacturer quickly called to let us know that they have talked to that dealer to fix the problem. When another shopper went back to that dealer he received the same poor service. That’s not to say this is always the case—the reverse can also be true. So whatever end of the supply chain you’re on make sure you’re associated with a reputable company that provides exceptional service.




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