Top 200 Focus: More Leads

Representing $2.6 billion dollars in annual sales, the 2006 Specialty 200 list is a comprehensive tally of the largest exterior home improvement companies in the United States. These companies specialize in window replacement, siding, roofing, decks and sunrooms.

On average, 40 percent of the total annual sales among companies on the list derives from window replacement. It is the largest specialty category. Sunrooms represent 23 percent of sales on average and siding 21 percent.

As is to be expected with businesses that rely on high-volume selling (the average number of jobs on this year’s list was 1,659), these exterior home improvement specialists tell QR that their opportunities and challenges center on increasing the amount of new business from all sources.
Pat Pagano, vice president of sales and marketing for American Siding and Window Systems, Urbandale, Iowa, is a good example. He says his No. 1 challenge and opportunity lies in lead generation.

“It used to be so much easier for companies to sell their product,” says Pagano, No. 31 on the 2006 Specialty 200. “Now, with the Do Not Call list enforced, we are starting to see the smaller companies go away and the larger companies up their game.”

Pagano is referring to the increased investment in marketing campaigns, Web site developments, and technologically-driven databases that are now used to turn the “cold call into a warm call.”

“Starting this year and continuing into next, we are directing all of our marketing material to our Web site,” explains Pagano. “We are allowing the homeowner to check us out before they even pick up the phone to call us. Here, they can see our offerings, read statements from past clients and view the many industry awards we have been honored with.”

Dan Green, president of SolarShield, Altoona, Pa., No. 192 on the Specialty 200, echoes Pagano sentiments. He says that generating good, quality leads looms large on their radar screen for 2007.

“The greatest challenge is to produce enough leads so that we can go out and close at a high percentage rate and retain enough business to make the company profitable,” says Green, “while still properly compensating the sales people so that they have a chance to make a good living.”

Another area of marketing that the Specialty 200 is focused on is cross selling. Pagano incorporated a new client database that allows him to market to past clients with some of their other product lines. Many companies are adding more product lines to their business, including handyman services and insurance restoration, as an opportunity for more business from already satisfied customers.

Rick Musto, R.F.M Construction, Fresno, Calif., No. 127 on the list, represents some of the many full-service firms who derive more than 50 percent of their revenue from exterior home improvements. R.F.M. offers patios, sunrooms, windows, siding and roofing under its Patio King division. For Musto, the key will be more advertising but also an increased focus on creating happy customers.

“Our focus will be to make sure that every job is done correctly,” says Musto. “That is what will drive new business.”

To view "The specialty 200" list, click here.