The CEO of the largest non-franchise window retailer offers his insight into sales training, flexibility with homeowners, the importance of duplication in your sales processes and more.
“Window Nation has been in business since 2006. We are the largest non-franchise window retailer in the country. We’re in 18 markets across the Midwest, MidAtlantic and East Coast,” said Aaron Magden in a recent interview with Leap. Now 16 years into the retail windows business, the company has grown to over 700 plus employees.
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Leap: When did you notice it was the right time to scale your business and what “fuel” did you add to the business to drive that growth?
Aaron: “When scaling from 50 million to 100 million and 100 million to 150 million, so on and so forth, there are different challenges for different stages of scaling. For example, think of Starbucks. They have multiple branches and at first, they just had a few stores. But when Starbucks grew and added stores, they had to make sure the coffee tasted the exact same in Seattle as it does in Baltimore. So, in order to effectively scale the window industry, you must make sure you have the right SOPs in place and make sure the right people are adhering to them and holding them accountable.
For the window industry, you must know that the installation is scheduled and the discussions you have with homeowners are the same in the New Jersey branch that it is in the Texas branch. Consistency is key!”
Tip #2: When scaling your window company, you need to quickly and efficiently train sales reps.
Leap: How does Window Nation train reps quickly to help scalability?
Aaron: “I think a key component is the onboarding process. Right when a new person starts, they feel the culture is in place and they feel like this is their new career, not a job. I also believe it’s making sure that you have really detailed structured training. At Window Nation we have what they call “Window Nation University” where it’s a separate division for just sales training. And we have certain setups and trainers for operations. So, for a new employee to come in and be successful, they have the right training in place and the right SOPs. If there’s inconsistency in training, where you know, “Larry at this branch” does it this way, and “Evan at this branch” does it a different way, and it works for him, that’s not scalable. There must be guidelines and a set of training items that everybody must go through to scale the business.”
Tip #3: Flexibility with homeowners is key to scaling your window company post-pandemic.
Leap: Would you mind sharing with me how you approach sales appointments at Window Nation? Are you doing any virtual sales?
Aaron: “Appointments are all in the home, unless the customer wants a virtual appointment. You know, there could be a reason for COVID or just for flexibility.”
Tip #4: Reducing time in the home improves customer experience and drives growth.
Leap: How have you seen customer experience change over the years? How do you control that?
Aaron: “The days of being in the home for 2-4 hours are no longer, people just don’t have the attention span anymore, people now have dual incomes and people want what they want, they want it now, and they want it fast. And I think that Amazon has basically disrupted everything because people have no patience anymore. You must navigate a little bit around that because some sales reps have been working in the industry for five or ten years, and they’re not able to adapt. They’re just stuck in their ways so it’s important to train sales reps to have successful conversations with homeowners.”
Tip #5: As you grow your window company, regionalize vendors to improve delivery times and simplify logistics.
Leap: With so many window products how do you manage inventory?
Aaron: “We regionalize our vendors based on location. So, we say, you know, in these five markets we use “Vendor A” and these five markets, we use “Vendor B,” and so on. It’s all based on logistics so for example, if a vendor is mainly making windows in Pennsylvania, it just doesn’t seem ideal to sell them in Texas, so we separate accordingly. Many companies don’t need to do that based on the volume that they sell and where they’re located. But as you really get to start scaling, you know, you’ll overload your vendors which will create lead time problems. And, you know, logistics simply is that if you’re working with a vendor that’s somewhat close by you know, delivery times and stuff can certainly be quicker.”
Tip #6: You must put efficient and duplicatable processes in place to add branches in different locations.
Leap: Any last tips for scaling a window business?
Aaron: “I think it all boils down to, like I said, being like a McDonald’s and what does that mean? That means that the same processes are all in place. They cook the fries this way. They cook the burgers this way and that doesn’t change depending on the location. To translate that into your business, you must think about the way you sell and how that can be scaled in different locations. The way that we schedule, and measure is the way that we schedule and measure in each branch. And, you know, the big thing is accountability. Everyone must be accountable for their actions and what they do, and you must trust and verify. Trust the people that are doing it, but you also must verify they are doing it (whether that means calling the call center and making a fake call or having someone do secret shopping).”
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