“But It Was A Really Great Deal.”
“They Said They Knew What They Were Doing!”
For those that don’t know, the economy and the building/remodeling boom in Central Texas has been phenomenal over the last couple of years. All the really good contractors and remodelers are busier than they’ve ever been and there seems to be no end in sight. Contractors that once would have been thrilled to get a $40,000 bath remodel are now only interested in $100,000 jobs and up. There’s simply so much demand for their quality craftsmanship that they can pick & choose their jobs.
The result of our ultra-hot economy in Central Texas is that there’s a very real and serious shortage of qualified and/or seasoned contractors to handle smaller to medium sized work. Here at Ringer Windows, we maintain our own in-house-employee Installation Teams so it hasn’t affected us. We build all our windows and patio doors locally in our factory in Taylor Texas. We also install all our replacement windows with our own staff crews. However, as a window manufacturer, we also sell a lot of windows-only to contractors and homeowners. We stock hundreds of windows that are ready-made in our Stock Window Program and we make a fair amount of custom sized windows as well so suffice it to say, a lot of our windows are purchased and installed by others.
Over the last year or so, we’ve received an alarming number of “distress calls” from people who find themselves in bad spots with botched window installations from contractors who “allegedly knew what they were doing”. The problem with most the guys and/or companies that try-their-hand with replacement windows is that they all tend to think that replacement window work is “fast and easy money” with no regard that it takes a lot of skill at all levels to achieve a high quality result.
It’s a fact…. We’ve seen a downward spiral of overall customer satisfaction within the replacement window and patio door community in Austin and Central Texas over the last couple of years. Some of the biggest names in our industry have only managed to earn a 50 to 60% approval rating with their installations over the last couple of years. Why?
There are a couple of reasons why overall job quality and customer satisfaction has declined (over the last couple of years).
First, while I’ll admit, replacement window work is not rocket science; it absolutely requires a great deal of product knowledge and skills to achieve a quality result. The selection of the right type of window with the right features is critical. Here at Ringer Windows, we’re not a one-size-fits-all kind of company so we offer lots of choices. Next, it’s vital that proper scope and window measurements are gathered so that the replacement windows fit well. Lastly, it’s 100% ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL that your Installation Team knows how to deliver high quality results during the physical replacement phase or else they’ll leave your house in shambles and the windows will look horrible, plus they’ll never work well. The bottom line with replacement windows is that you must receive good counsel at the beginning to select the best windows that meet your needs and budget. Second, you really must demand that your replacement window Installation Team have at least a couple of years of EXCLUSIVE experience with nothing but replacement window work.
Second, the replacement window industry in Central Texas is notorious for “beating down” the installation labor costs for their crews. The number one goal for most window company owners and their sales staff is to keep costs low, most especially the installation labor costs. The result of this continual beat down is that many of the more skilled window trades people have left because they were tired of the low pay and constant tactics that window companies used to beat them out of their pay. The truth is, the skillset of a highly experienced replacement window crew is invaluable. It can make or break a company’s reputation.
Third, a great deal of the Central Texas replacement-window-labor is performed by the low-bid sub contractors who happen to be available on a particular day. The problem with this approach is that they type of guys that do this type of work are “available” for a reason. You can believe me or not but the main goal for most of these sub-contractors is to get in-and-out as fast as they can. We see it every day here at Ringer Windows, not with our own crews, but from the desperate pleas from people who beg us to help to fix their windows that others have screwed-up.
Fourth, there’s been an increasing trend of unscrupulous window sales people, and companies, that claim to offer and sell high-quality replacement quality windows when in fact, they are selling a more cheaply made “new construction” window. the unsuspecting public don’t know the difference between a builder-grade window and a good one. The truth is, they all tend to look similar to the untrained eye? These types of people that engage in selling builder windows while calling them replacement windows know that the attractiveness of the lower price usually garners serious consideration with many potential clients. Caveat Emptor has never been more important with knowing a bit about windows!
I’ll make one last comment about the state of Replacement Windows in Central Texas and how I things in general have changed. I’ll offer some real-world suggestions on how to sidestep some of the pitfalls that plague the window industry.
Austin and Central Texas is a fairly big market. People have lots of choices for replacement windows and patio doors. There’s no shortage of Internet, Radio, Door-to-Door, TV, and Snail Mail Advertising that bombards us daily. Sadly, it seems to me that over time, people have come to expect less from everything. It’s commonplace for people accept that nothing lasts like it used to. People expect and accept mediocre service as the norm. Businesses constantly preach to their employees, “do more with less” (which is code for keep up our high standards while using fewer resources while working more hours). For the most part, the replacement window industry went along for this ride, lock-step.
I won’t end my Blog on total Gloom & Doom! Here are a few things you might consider.
Deal direct when possible.
Ringer Windows is a real Brick & Mortar Company located in Taylor, Texas. We feature really cool showroom and we’ll give you a tour. Windows and patio doors are all we do! Try to eliminate as many of the middlemen in the process as you can. Seriously, how many things have you purchased in your life where you had the opportunity to buy directly from a real brick & mortar business?
Does your window company or window person have an office or do they work out of their home?
Consider the quality of potential follow-ups service you ever need them. It’s hard to track someone down if they only have a cell phone or a PO Box.
Check online and look at ALL the reviews you can possibly find, from different sources.
Look and evaluate on the totality of what you find. Look for bogus entries and reviews that look to be fabricated. Believe it or not, many online reviews were posted by the company you are checking-out. It’s dishonest, but it happens all the time.
Learn what you can about the technical side of windows and challenge your sales consultants with questions that matter to you.
It won’t be difficult to know when you’re dealing with a talking-head who’s memorized a few bullet-points vs. someone who really understands the science that helps define the windows they want to sell you. If you’re reading my Blog and you call me for advice, I will spend 5 minutes with you on the phone, helping to guide you through a few salient points. The best time to catch me is between 9 and 10AM CST, M-F. Identify yourself as a Blog Fan, and I’ll share some important information!
Look at the totality of online reviews as much as you can.
Look at the BBB, Angies, Yelp, and neighborhood reviews as much as you can. It’s easy to hide poor service “here and there” but over time, it you’ll be able to spot both good and bad trends. It does take work and effort, but the results will be worth it!
The most important thing you can do is to put the call out to your friends, through social media and with calls.
Talk your friends. Were your friends happy or unhappy? Seek out people in your city or area to best evaluate the installation quality. It’s easier enough to evaluate product quality from the Internet as long as you compare the same series of windows. It’s important that you fully evaluate the actual installation results on the local level. Many window companies are franchised operations. Some are better than others with their service so just because one franchise produced good installation results, doesn’t mean that you’ll receive the same great service.
I hope that my Blog helps you with your window search. Thanks for supporting Ringer Windows. Learn more about our company at ringerwindows.com