Strategies for Reducing Lead Times for Window and Door Orders

26 April 2024

In the competitive window and door market, reducing lead times is crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction and staying ahead of competitors.

Lengthy lead times can lead to project delays, increased costs, dissatisfied customers, and depending on which stage of the sales process they’re at, they could also drop out and look elsewhere.

Therefore, it’s essential for installers to adopt strategies that streamline their processes and reduce the time from order to delivery. Today, we’ll take a look at how lead times, from initial enquiry to installation, can be reduced.

The Importance of Reduced Lead Times

Lead times for windows and doors can be affected by various factors, including the supply chain, sales process, number of appointments, and more.

By reducing these lead times, companies can not only enhance their customer service but also improve operational efficiency and increase turnover rates.

Strategies for Reducing Lead Times

Optimise Your Sales Process

The starting point of the customer journey with your business starts from the point they discover you and make initial contact.

This initial contact could come in many forms. It could be a simple phone call, a direct email, form submission, online quote, social media message, or any number of other methods.

Your sales process needs to be optimised to be able to handle all touchpoints a customer has at their disposal.

You would be surprised at the number of businesses up-and-down the country that fall short at this crucial first step. It could be just not answering the phone, not having people taking calls who are trained in dealing with new enquiries, emails not being responded to, or social media messages going unanswered.

With most customers now discovering businesses online, any delay in getting back to an enquiry (or no response at all), is a huge misstep for a business. But for the customer, they can simply find somewhere else. Enquiries need to be answered promptly, ideally within the first day, but the sooner the better, to reduce the chances of customers shopping around and receiving a faster response from a competitor.

To improve this, it’s important to:

  • Have a clear sales process: What are the steps that you need to take from initial contact through to the final sale? Who is responsible for picking those enquiries up? What needs to happen once a customer has made contact?
  • Train employees: Having a process is a great first step, but your employees need to know it and understand it, so that it is followed each time
  • Identify all touchpoints: Make a list of all the possible ways a customer could contact your business, and ensure employees check these sources throughout the day and that someone is always on-hand to answer the phone during your opening hours

A CRM Is Your Best Friend

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can be a transformative tool for a window and door installer, particularly in handling incoming sales leads and managing appointments and orders efficiently.

By centralising all customer interactions and sales leads into one database, a CRM ensures that no enquiries, orders, or appointments fall through the cracks. This is particularly beneficial for keeping track of various stages of the sales process, from initial contact through to final installation.

The CRM can automate follow-up reminders, ensuring that potential customers are contacted promptly, thus increasing the likelihood of converting leads into sales. Additionally, the system can schedule and track appointments, linking them directly to customer profiles, which not only streamlines the process but also provides valuable context about the customer’s needs and history, such as if they’ve ordered from you before or are a new customer.

This level of organisation and oversight helps to prevent double-booking and ensures that all commitments are met, ultimately leading to improved customer satisfaction and increased efficiency for the business. By leveraging the data analysis capabilities of a CRM, a window and door installer can also identify trends and areas for improvement, further optimising your sales strategy and operational efficiency.

There are many options available to you for your own CRM system. On a simple level, we recommend creating a spreadsheet including all the data you want to track. This could be as simple as having sheets for quotes you’ve sent out and another for work you’ve won, where you track what the work is and the value, as well as the customer details, and have status columns to keep track of the stage it’s at as well as when the last contact was.

For windows and doors, a common CRM system used is Business Pilot, which is specifically designed for installation companies.

Or, for a more complex yet flexible option, there are tools such as ClickUp or HubSpot.

Streamlining Your Supply Chain

Establishing strong relationships with suppliers and maintaining an efficient supply chain are fundamental to reducing lead times. This includes regular communication with suppliers, as well as adopting accurate inventory management and efficient ordering of new supplies.

For windows and doors specifically, you’re going to want to ensure you’re working with a manufacturer that can provide a fast turnaround, both in terms of manufacturing but also delivery.

At the same time, you’re going to need to find a manufacturer and suppliers that have a good track record in quality. The last thing you want is a fast turnaround only to have to send the product(s) back because there are quality issues, which could then significantly delay a project.

If you are considering a new manufacturing partner, take a look at how we can support you here at TruFrame, with our fast turnaround times and delivery timescales, as well as our hand-finished process to ensure a quality end-product.

Continuous Improvement 

Regularly reviewing processes, gathering feedback, and implementing improvements can lead to ongoing reductions in lead times. This also involves staying updated with industry trends and technologies that can further enhance efficiency.

For example, there are many tools on the market that improve the customer experience and can ensure you get the information you need first-time to pick up a sales enquiry. These could include online quoting tools, like TruFrame’s QuoteBuilder, a Customer Portal to place and track orders, or a myriad of other solutions.

Reducing lead times is not a one-time effort but a continuous process that involves various aspects of the business and the way it operates.

By implementing these strategies, window and door installers can achieve quicker turnaround times, leading to higher customer satisfaction and a stronger competitive edge in the market.