Top 500 Profile: All Coached Up
authors Patrick O'Toole | September 12, 2019
By the time Gary Delia launched Home Performance Alliance in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2011, he had already achieved a lot in the business. Mainly, he had risen through the ranks of one of the most respected companies in home improvement over the last 40 years, Pennsylvania-based Appleby Systems, a company built by the legendary Nourham Kalian. In its heyday, it had 10 offices and two divisions in seven states. Delia came to the company with a background that involved telemarketing management, but in a completely different industry.
He started as a branch manager in Allentown and finished his tenure as president of the company. Then, after 14 years with the firm, he and his family had had enough of cold winters and were ready for Florida. Once there, Delia worked on a consulting basis with various firms around the country: Ohio, Arkansas, California and Georgia.
His company, Home Performance Alliance, came to life because of myriad code changes enacted in Florida in the wake several bad Hurricane seasons in the state, Delia says. Windows were rightly seen by insurers and code authorities as the weak point in a home’s defense against big storms.
The new codes mandated much higher design pressure (DP) ratings. And coming during the depth of the Great Recession, they were accompanied by a raft of federal and state rebates and tax credits that sparked a massive retrofit movement in the Sunshine State. Florida was suddenly a big new opportunity for window sales, and Delia was ready to capitalize on that opportunity with Home Performance Alliance.
In its first year, the company hit a respectable $3 million in revenue. Today the firm operates branches in Jacksonville, Orlando and Fort Myers, in addition to its home base in St. Petersburg. In 2018, the firm billed $30,267,300 on 2,189 jobs. This year, Delia says, the firm is tracking towards $37 million—an impressive figure after only 10 years in business.
“We are aiming to get the full potential of windows in our state because the market is still there,” Delia explains. “The leads are there. It’s something we’ve become good at. And I don’t see any reason why that’s going to let up in the near future. There’s still a large inventory of homes that have not been retrofit in our markets.”
Meeting the People Challenge With Coaching
Scaling any business requires a pipeline of talent at all levels of the firm. For Delia, finding qualified installers was an initial hurdle due to the peculiarities of removing and installing windows in concrete-block homes, which is a dominant construction style found in Florida. Then it was about finding and training qualified canvassers and salespeople.
Finally, and most importantly, he says, is finding experienced managers able to run large groups of people and territories. Delia, who served as a volunteer high school football coach for 11 years, says his success at the end of the day is contingent on working directly with team members, encouraging and coaching them.
“I’d be at $100 million already if I had the manpower,” Delia says. “I don’t mean just the salespeople or canvassers; I mean the people that manage them. Management staff is critical to growing. But you need coaches in this business. There are some companies that have models where salespeople are all over the country and don’t really have contact with anyone. But for me, it’s always been about having coaches. It became clear to me as a football coach, coaching those fundamentals and tactics are really necessary.
“What makes me successful is having people who understand the game plan when they go to meet with a prospect. They understand what they are trying to accomplish, what the goal is. Then it’s about practicing the techniques and tactics of communicating with people on an effective level that’s going to get results.”
The vast majority of HPA leads are generated through canvassing and home shows. Canvassers are incented by creating leads that result in sales. Effective canvassers can earn as much as $52,000 per year, Delia says. And every weekend the company sets up shop in a dozen or more locations around the state; but home shows are not the prime venue. Instead, they choose local art fairs and food festivals where there is less competition from other home improvement firms.
“We go for anything with access to the general public where homeowners will be present. We’re gonna give it a shot: cat shows, animal shows, you name it. And we find it’s a similar lead to a canvass lead, they work,” Delia says. “We have slot machines and roulette wheels where someone can win a gift card or an instant giveaway, and while they’re talking, you’re making an appointment to come out and see them.” QR