Modern Cedar Addition Project: Replacing Windows

As remodelers, you know a large part of your job is having the skill and expertise to transform built spaces and fix existing problems. But it’s also about having the finesse to approach homeowners about the not so exciting jobs, like replacing windows. I’m going to put this out there: No one wants to replace windows. Homeowners view it as a frustrating process from the get-go and tend to wait until the problem is so bad they can’t ignore it any longer.

As someone who has seen the replacement process work smoothly, I’ve learned a few tips that can help put the homeowner at ease and put you, the remodeler, on a clear course to success (and future referrals).

  1. Show them the path and set the right expectation.
    • Homeowners view replacing windows as a frustrating obligation. The process is new, unknown and not well-defined. This presents an opportunity to turn their confusion into confidence and anxiety into answers by showing them the path and setting the right expectations for the process. Your milestones as a replacement contractor are not the same milestones for the homeowner, who may have a number of unrealistic expectations based on other shopping experiences. For example, as a contractor, you’re worried about getting the order placed, but the homeowner is worried about getting their product choices right. That’s a step the contractor wants to go quickly, but the homeowner needs to be confident they got right.As a contractor you’re worried about when the windows will be delivered so you can plan labor and installation with the homeowner. A homeowner only really cares about installation! So when laying out next steps for a homeowner, be sure to focus on setting the right expectations for installation. When will it start? How long will it take? What do they need to prepare their home? Answer all their questions. Remember to clearly outline the process with their experience and knowledge in mind.
  1. Narrow and simplify their choices. 
    • Homeowners can suffer from a condition we like to call “analysis paralysis.” They’re on social media; they’re searching for options; and they’re encountering new terms, materials, options and features—the list goes on and on and can lead to confusion and the inability to make any decisions at all. This is where you should step in as an expert consultant. Homeowners will appreciate if you help narrow down their options by providing a select but specifically curated set of options, using popular styles in their neighborhood as a starting point. It’s all about simplifying. Start with a few quality products that would be a right fit for their home and ask for feedback so you can continue to narrow down the options until you’re left with the right one.
  1. Help them visualize the product in their home.
    • It’s hard for most homeowners to visualize how a project will look when complete, so this is an area where you might have to get creative. Consider conducting your next meeting in their house, not in a showroom, or using computer visual aids. Tape or draw lines on their walls to show them exactly where the new openings will be. Bring in samples of the exterior finishes, interior finishes, hardware, screening options, etc., so they can see how it will look against the existing wall color and décor in the room. Before and after photos of past replacement projects will also help give them a better understanding of what’s to come. This step helps get homeowners out of their reluctant state and open to seeing the replacement as a transformation of their home.
  1. Help them see the value. 
    • Replacing windows is expensive, which is one of the reasons why homeowners are reluctant to begin the process. It’s hard for them to justify the expense, so part of your job is to help them see the value and payoff of new windows. It may be obvious to you and may be easy for you to default to the practical aspects you can sell on paper, but try to focus on functional and emotional benefits to the homeowner. For example, consider whether the homeowner may have been previously avoiding a room or a space because it’s too cold, loud or unpleasant, and explain how new windows can change the look, function and overall feel of a space as well as increase the value of a home. The value of what windows do to improve the feel of a room is most often overlooked, so remember to point it out.
  1. Set expectations on the project timeline and prep them mentally for install. 
    • The homeowner has just navigated a difficult decision and is relieved they’ve made a choice, but now they have to wait. And waiting is frustrating. Stay in contact and set the right expectations about what’s ahead, as it’s critical to their satisfaction. Give them something to do in the interim to keep their minds at peace while preparing their home for installation. For example, tell them to remove any items in the room they don’t want damaged, or have them prep the exterior of the home, removing plants, shutters, window treatments, etc., for the installation. Reinforce the expectations you set upfront and continue to stay in touch with updates.

Like you, homeowners want a feeling of control during the replacement process, and you can help by keeping them informed and involved at every stage of the project. The most successful remodelers demonstrate empathy for how confused and frustrated their customers sometimes feel. By putting yourself into the homeowner’s shoes and referencing the tips above, your next window replacement project can be a win for everyone involved.

By Kris Hanson, senior manager, product management at Integrity Windows and Doors. 

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