A Better View
By: Jay Steinfeld
As you well know, while every builder struggles to generate incremental profits, most are not equipped to take on new services requiring additional time, money and effort. But there are still crucial "upgrades" a builder can address with homebuyers prior to the move-in process--whether a home is new construction or a renovation--that will help differentiate you from the pack in a competitive market and help boost your bottom line.
Whereas traditionally upgradeable items such as countertops, flooring and appliances are included and up-sold, window coverings are unavoidable necessities that provide privacy, security, light control, insulation, and of course, decor; and homebuyers are often left to fend for themselves regarding purchasing and installation. By advocating window coverings options as a "need" rather than a "desire," a builder can benefit financially by supplying this significant value to the homes he builds and sells.
One of the nicest advantages of concrete homes from a window coverings standpoint is windows are set deeper. Often, window frames on non-concrete homes have insufficient depth to accommodate certain window treatments, causing the window coverings to protrude into the room. Deeper set windows allow for virtually any type of window treatment, so the selections a builder can present to clients are endless.
But concrete homes offer more of a challenge when it comes to installation hardware (which presents another opportunity for the builder to reinforce the need for his services) and will require concrete wall-plugs for fastening the blinds brackets.
Even though concrete dwellings are inherently more energy efficient than wood-framed structures, a variety of window covering choices can help further enhance the rate of heat loss or gain windows present. Many builders suggest honeycomb shades, especially ones with multiple cells, which provide optimal insulation while evenly diffusing light when closed.
Making the process of adding window coverings to the homebuilding "package" as simple and easy as possible for homebuyers is the best approach. If a homebuyer is given the opportunity to effortlessly include the purchase of blinds, shades or shutters in their mortgage and have them installed before move-in, that buyer will most likely opt for the highest upgradeable selection (e.g. real wood blinds or plantation shutters). In turn, a win-win scenario is established because the property value and aesthetics of the home are enhanced, and the builder receives kudos for the innovative service, all the while supplementing profits.
Including window coverings in a mortgage can occur as follows:
The homebuyer buys directly from the builder, who in turn, purchase from a third-party window coverings vendor. For a builder with set floor plans for several models, branded window coverings packages can be assembled with preset "package prices." The window coverings can be added to the price of the home, rolled into the mortgage and installed prior to closing.
The homebuyer is given a window coverings allowance, which is part of the sales price of the home. The builder then refers the homebuyer to a window coverings retailer. The homebuyer's selections can be installed before closing. The homebuyer will then be able to include the window coverings in their mortgage.
The added benefit of working with a third-party source for products such as window coverings--besides the fact that it's usually free--is that the builder does not have to be "the expert." The referred retailer will stock and provide all the samples, field questions, take orders, ship, track and perform many of the logistics involved. This is key, as most builders do not have the necessary manpower, buying power or expertise to counsel on specific and varied products such as window coverings.
Jay Steinfeld is founder and president of BlindsNetwork (www.blindsnetwork.com), a resource for builders that provides window coverings sales opportunities and fulfillment solutions for referrers and resellers, including contractors, interior designers, realtors and commercial developers. He can be reached at 800-511-5542 or by e-mail at noSpam("sales", "blinds.net"); firstname.lastname@example.org at blinds.net.