Remodeling Market Offers Business Opportunities for Glass Shops
April 25, 2011
While new residential construction has been slow, remodeling, on the other hand has continued to thrive, bringing plenty of opportunities for glass shops that provide services such as shower enclosures, backsplashes and other kitchen and bath renovation materials. The latest BuildFax Remodeling Index (BFRI) report showed continued year-over-year gains with more people remodeling their homes, even though the economy continues its slow recovery. The BFRI index, detailing remodeling activity from February 2011, indicates that residential remodeling activity registered the 16th straight month of year-over-year gains, demonstrating that many Americans are choosing to remodel their current homes, rather than purchase new ones.

"For years 'remodelers' were jacks-of-all-trades and looked down on. Who knew that a contractor/building inspector (i.e., Mike Holmes on HGTV's Holmes Inspection) would be a TV star," says Bill Furr, regional sales manager for Arizona Shower Door. "The number of home repair shows on PBS, HGTV, TLC and others has skyrocketed in popularity."

Furr adds that with the demise of new home construction combined with the popularity of house-flipping TV shows and other home-improvement programs, homeowners who can't afford to move up in housing are now spending what they can to update their aging homes.

"They are preparing for the inevitable market upswing to return or resigned themselves that they are in it for the long term like the rest of the world," says Furr. "The United States is the only country that changes houses like we do. Europeans live in the same houses for generations and just update them to meet their lifestyle. How many movies have you seen showing someone building a new home in Italy?"

David Drexler with Atlanta-based Drexler Shower Door Co. says remodeling has always been his company's best segment, "and the one that is most impervious to downturns, although everything got hit this time around," says Drexler. "Homeowners who have lost equity in their homes and portfolios are staying put and investing in their kitchens and baths to add value and enjoyment while they sit tight. These same people might have had the money to buy a new home before, but they just don't anymore. I think, though, we've reached the bottom and that may be beginning to change."

So, for glass companies not already involved in the remodeling market, what are some things they can do if interested in moving in this direction?

"These clients really focus on service and quality," says Drexler. "If you're expecting to bang it out quickly and get a check, it's not the niche for you. These clients are going to want a little hand holding."

Furr adds, "If you aren't in the remodeling market, you need to think outside of the box. Get an IT person and get listed on the Internet as a remodeling specialist explaining what you can do. The shop needs to put signage on its vehicles describing its expertise--not just the company name."

He also suggests creating informational cards listing what the companies offer that employees can leave behind when finishing a job.

"When the housing boom was rolling there were thousands of shops nationwide that didn't even have ads in the phonebook and they had all the work they could handle. These players are gone now. Advertising works and doesn't need to be expensive. Your truck at a stoplight is a billboard, use it."

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