For a guy with a window replacement empire, Jim Roland is remarkably low-key. His company is called Window World of Baton Rouge, but it includes branch operations in New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, and Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla. Before he joined Window World in 2002, Roland ran Magnetite, a company that made and sold magnet-attached storm windows and operated multiple branch offices across the Midwest and South.

What drew Roland to Window World, he says, was the idea of going into the house with an itemized menu of products and options from which homeowners can select. “They had a good, basic model for me to follow, with the idea of selling off a sheet with the prices printed on it,” Roland says.

It didn’t take him long to thrive in the new environment. By 2005, the Baton Rouge company was Window World’s second biggest dealer. “At that point I’d been in the business for 20-some years,” Roland says. “I knew how to motivate and manage salesmen, develop pro forma, and commission plans. I had a knowledge and awareness of how to control costs, which is a fundamental part of the Window World model.”

Roland quickly used the knowledge of management disciplines he’d gained over the years to create the systems and controls necessary to build a multi-office organization within Window World. Then Hurricane Katrina hit.

Within three months, Katrina took Window World of Baton Rouge sales from around 2,000 units per month to 11,000 units. It also created highly stressful conditions for the businesses involved in rebuilding. For instance, New Orleans suddenly became the tightest labor market in the country, with hourly rates going up every day. Window World of Baton Rouge made a commitment to “keep our prices exactly the same,” Roland says.

To do that, the company took out ads in Rust Belt towns such as Detroit and Indianapolis to recruit crews. For three months, Roland says, “I spent three hours every evening returning phone calls and recruiting installers.” Roland made two other decisions that proved crucial: He moved into a facility that was 10 times larger; and—“flush with cash”—he poured it all back into advertising, transforming Window World into a brand in southern Louisiana.
 

Takeaways

  • “We look at a body of reports every single day,” Roland says, and they’re not just historical. “We’re keen on designing reports that help managers make decisions and help them understand what’s going on.”
  • Salespeople don’t get their checks until Window World gets paid. Installers—all in uniforms, all EPA RRP (Renovation, Repair and Painting rule)-certified—don’t get theirs until they’ve walked the job with the customer and the customer has signed off on the paperwork. If a job comes in incomplete, there’s no payment. When the job’s complete, it gets reviewed by a field supervisor and salespeople get paid in the next payroll period.
  • One of the organization’s ongoing goals is to reduce the amount of time between placing the order and completing installation.