We value a strong relationship with our suppliers and think that we have put together an outstanding supplier team. But as styles, colors and other trends change we must constantly evaluate our offerings. We want to offer products that meet the specific needs of Louisville-area homeowners and sometimes that means supplementing our existing products with those from additional suppliers to fill those needs.
We recently welcomed a new supplier, ThermaTru Doors to our team. We thought this might be a good opportunity to talk about what goes into selecting a new supplier. While we don’t make many changes to our product line, when we do, it’s a process that gets our complete attention with a full background investigation. Why? It’s important to us that we don’t test products on our customers. By the time we add a new supplier, we’re 100% confident in that company and their products.
Here’s how we do it:
Step 1: Find Out What Our Customers (You) Want
Meeting the needs of you, our customer, and providing you “an outstanding customer experience” is our primary mission. That means listening to your needs and giving you what you want. In this instance, through discussions with our design consultants and customers, we identified specific fiberglass door styles you wanted that weren’t available from our existing suppliers.
Step 2: Determine Who Offers What We Need
We stay on top of the industry by regularly reading industry trade publications, reviewing industry websites and attending industry trade shows. We have become window and door experts not only through the thousands of windows and doors we’ve replaced in the Louisville area, but also by keeping up with what’s new and interesting in windows and doors. For example, earlier this year, three members of our team, Ann Gregory, Laurie Scarborough and Don Erickson, attended the 2014 International Builders Show and spent time visiting with several manufacturers at the show, including our current suppliers.
Step 3: Uncover The Company That Best Meets Our Needs
We have a checklist of “must-haves” based on our experience with dozens of manufacturers and thousands of product installations. We’re sticklers on component quality and finish, product performance in the field, and delivery lead times. Competitive pricing is always on our checklist. Marketing and training support are also important to us.
Step 4: See The Entire Operation In Person
Having identified our top prospect, we hit the road to touch and see the product. Watching the manufacturing process provides valuable insight to better understand product strengths and quality control initiatives. Visiting with manufacturer R&D teams helps us know how the company is planning their future. For the ThermaTru road trip, Ann and Laurie traveled 863 miles through four states to visit four different facilities in order to see the entire ThermaTru operation from start to finish.
Step 5: Train and Continually Educate Our Team
So after we agree to terms with the supplier, it’s time to train our team on quoting, ordering and installing the new products. The manufacturer sends a representative to our location for in-depth training (usually a half or full day) and to answer questions from our team members. Factory training for our installers and regular news updates are also a part of on-going training programs.
A Customer Experience Investment
Ensuring an outstanding customer experience means making sure all of these steps lead to a great supplier. We invest our time to make sure we’re doing what is best for our customers…even if it means a “Thelma & Louise” style road trip for the owners.
Find out more by contacting one of our design consultants at 502-896-1717 or by filling out the form on our Contact Us page. We look forward to helping you with your next window or door project.