Door and Window Musings
by Tara Taffera
March 26th, 2015

Frenzy of Thoughts from Fenestration Day

I’m finally getting caught up after the DWM-sponsored event Fenestration Day, held last week in Irvine, Calif., and I have even more news and thoughts to share. Yes, I know we covered this extensively in news stories and video, but there’s more. Here are some of my highlights.

Keynote speaker William Greiner: Economic expert Greiner’s presentation was more than well received, evident by the multitude of questions asked following his address. One statement he made was quite perplexing: “The ability of people to buy houses is very much present—but people aren’t buying.” He attempted to explain that conundrum by pointing out that “the housing market has been so volatile that younger people are still concerned.” The good news, he said, is a shift may be coming. In fact, he said the past three to four months have seen a ramping up in housing starts.

Trolling for Lawsuits: Chip Gentry’s presentation on how companies can protect themselves from patent trolls was more than enlightening. Did you know that 3,134 patent troll suits were filed in 2013? Once he made his case that it’s indeed a problem, he went to the crux of the issue: “There is a crisis. Now, what happens when you are sued,” he asked.

Well, first it will cost you millions: Gentry’s estimates are $1.25 million for a small case; $2.4 million for a medium case; and $4 million for a large case. “And that’s just to defend yourself, not to win,” he said. Obviously, fighting a case like this would eat into a company’s cash flow.

Another concern, said Gentry, is all about perception—even if you have done nothing wrong. “If there is the perception that you’ve got problems, it will cause concerns in the marketplace,” he said.

Okay, now back to how to protect yourself so you don’t get sued—it’s all about best practices. I’ve known Gentry for almost 15 years; he has spoken at previous Fenestration Day events, and yes, he is all about telling companies what not to do so they never get sued. But getting companies to embrace this mentality is a slow process. “I have been talking about best practices for 14 years, and it is just now starting to gain traction,” he said.

One statement from Gentry sums up what’s truly disturbing about patent trolls: “They don’t even care if you stop infringing. They just want the money.”

Good isn’t Enough: Brian Smith of Dave Yoho Associates, a master at sales strategies and setting companies apart from competitors, told companies how to go from good to great. The hands-on presentation put attendees to work. They had to answer everything from three things customers want from them, to three things employees say they should do in terms of the competition, to three things customers would say that the company does better than anyone else.

Smith’s key message was this: “You need to know your customer better.”

“The customer will continue to shop until they meet a salesperson,” said Smith. So if you’re that person, Smith said you better know what to say—you better have your script down.

I attended a seminar presented by Dave Yoho himself several years ago, and he talked for hours about the importance of scripting. Smith said “most people don’t script, and if they do, they do it wrong.”

And while you may know your message, don’t assume this is the case company-wide.

“What you may do, you can’t assume the rest of your staff does,” said Smith.

At the end of the session, Smith asked attendees to choose one thing they learned that day. The majority said they would go back to their offices and talk to their employees to ask them those three questions.

“You have an employee sitting in your company with a great idea,” said Smith.

I really loved Yoho’s presentation, and I’ll end with a great analogy he gave. “If you want to differentiate, you have to be kindergarten-like in the way you ask questions.”

Why do you do things in a certain way, for example? After drilling down, you may just realize that it’s not that you can’t do something a certain way; it’s that you simply don’t want to change.

So take that kindergarten-like stance, and you may just find yourself going from good to great.

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