Hang around Weather Tite Windows long enough and you’re likely to see something surprising: customers bringing cookies, sometimes by the dozen, to the front desk. It all started back in 2006 when Michael Hollander, president and owner, asked customers to bring him cookies on one of his locally famous comedic TV commercials. From there it just took off.
“People bring us cookies like you couldn’t imagine. But you want to make sure they’re happy customers before you eat them,” Hollander jokes.
That doesn’t seem to be a problem for Weather Tite. Starting from a one-man show, Hollander used his business acumen to make his company a “preferred vendor” at home owner associations (HOAs) all over the Tampa, Fla., area, which often have their own set of strict regulations. “If you market that HOA correctly, the prospects you get are amazing,” he says. “Some invite us back every year to give a presentation.”
Hollander turns such invites into an ice cream social that’s like a home show where Weather Tite is the only vendor. He also makes sure to stay in regular contact with customers about code changes and warranties with an old-school paper newsletter. “We’re dealing with a lot of retired folks who don’t have email,” he explains.
Behind the scenes is “The Michael,” the database of customers Hollander created from his sales journal and handwritten notes that’s now been uploaded into a customer relationship management system.
But while the company is going more high-tech with the introduction of tablet-based presentations and pricing, Hollander says there’s no substitute for old-fashioned salesmanship. “Fancy systems and software are important, but I’m a true believer in people skills,” he says.
Well, that and cookies.