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He Said, She Said: Finding Profit on Both Sides of the Window

He Said: O’D McKewan

Are you the typical one-sided designer? By that, I mean a designer who only designs and specifies window treatments for the inside of a home or business?

Guess what? There is a great big world of opportunity on the other side of the glass. If you are only offering your clients the option of interior window coverings, you are missing out—the outside, that is. Exterior shading solutions are a big business, and a fairly lucrative one as well. They are generally two to three times the cost of interior shades and offer a number of benefits that interior shades do not. Almost all of them can and should be motorized. With summer just around the corner, adding any of these items can really make a difference for you and your clients.

She Said: LuAnn Nigara

Your existing customers are pure gold waiting to be mined for future sales. You don’t have to spend marketing dollars to find them. They are more likely to make the buying decision in fewer visits. They already know, like and trust you, which is key to getting consumers to buy from you over and over again.

In order to sell more things to the same people, you need to consider what complementary products you can offer. If you aren’t already, I suggest you add exterior products, which we’ve been selling at Window Works since 1983. The demand for exterior products has never been higher. Outdoor kitchens, man caves and firepits are not just for the super wealthy. Everyone is looking for ways to entertain outdoors and be comfortable while doing it. So what products can you offer to capitalize on this growing trend?

He Said: Exterior Shades

One of the most common exterior products is shades. There are some very practical reasons your clients may need shades for their home. They may be concerned because the summer sun and/or heat is so intense that they have to close their blackout shades just to be comfortable. Exterior shading solutions offer great heat reduction from direct sunlight. By using any exterior style shade, you are greatly reducing the amount of heat that hits the glass. A solar screen mounted on the outside of a home offers a higher heat reduction than the exact same fabric mounted on an interior solar screen. Thus, the heat transfer into the room is reduced.

Exterior screen shades can be mounted on a wall and cover multiple windows. With today’s technology, you can cover up to a 40-foot-wide opening with a single exterior shade. They can also be mounted on roofs to cover skylights and sunrooms.

Exterior shades usually still allow the client to maintain their views. They leave the interior of the rooms without big or bulky hardware. Another benefit is that you can still sell your beautiful interior shades more for aesthetic purposes while meeting your clients’ functional needs on the outside of the room. As more and more homes are being built with exterior living spaces and sliding or folding walls of glass, many of my clients want and need exterior options.

She Said: Exterior Shades

We often meet customers who have spaces that require the function and benefits of a window treatment but not the aesthetic of one. In this case, look outside for the solution. Exterior shades are mounted outside and operated remotely from inside, leaving the interior uncluttered by shades, drapes or blinds. The customer has protection only when needed, leaving the interior crisp, clean and designed as intended. An added benefit is that outdoor shades are also effective for mild temperature control because they reduce the amount of heat entering the room.

We have also used outdoor shades for their room-darkening quality so the big game or a summer movie can be seen in an outdoor room. In addition to the home, exterior shades can be used on porches and patios.

He Said: Fixed Awnings

Fixed or ornate awnings are the kind that are permanently mounted above the window or door and are non-movable. They are designed to cast a shadow on the window that helps block direct sunlight from hitting the window during certain times of the day. This can reduce glare and heat from entering the window. They can also offer protection from drizzly spring and fall days.

If you are considering adding awnings or other outdoor products to your lineup, check with your local licensing department and see if any of these products require a special license or permit to sell or install. It’s also a good idea to look for other local companies that are already in this business. You can talk with them about starting a referral business if you are offering complementary products. You may also be able to subcontract some of the work of installing awnings and other outdoor products to them.

She Said: Retractable Awnings

Retractable awnings are a fairly easy entry-level product to begin your foray into outdoor sales. Installation is not overly complicated for experienced, knowledgeable installers, even if it is a new product line for them. As long as they have a solid foundation in basic construction, a good team can take on awnings.

As far as selling them, I recommend only offering the best quality awnings, which for us at Window Works means KE Outdoor DesignEastern Awning and Eclipse Shading Systems. Just like in window treatments, I believe there is no need to even attempt to compete with the mass sellers. Offer, sell and install high-quality products and leave the low-end brands to the box stores.

Retractable awnings can be face mounted or roof mounted. Quality units come in widths all the way to 46 feet and are most often motorized. High performance Sunbrella fabrics are appealing and stand up to the sun’s harmful rays for many years.

As an add-on product, retractable awnings can have drop-down screen shades mounted directly to them, offering additional protection from sun coming in the sides of the awning.

He Said: Exterior Pergolas

Exterior pergolas are permanent structures that generally require contractors and special permits, so I won’t go into much detail about these. However, if a client already has an exterior pergola, there is a great opportunity to help them with exterior shading. Most pergolas have spaced woodwork above that allows sun and rain to reach into the structure. This is where you can offer roman-style pergola shading or exterior sunroom shading systems. Another opportunity with pergolas or any outdoor patio structure is using exterior drop-down solar roller shades to block the heat and glare from sun coming in at lower angles, or exterior draperies to enclose an exterior area for privacy.

She Said: Outdoor Rooms

The Gennius awning by KE Outdoor Design is the new breed of retractable awnings because you can truly create a room where there wasn’t one outside. Unlike the standard retractable awning, this product is specifically designed to withstand rain, snow and even cold with the addition of side panels, zip screens and heating units. The Gennius can have both a Bose sound system and lighting system integrated into it. It has its own gutter system to offload rain and melted snow.

This product is surely popular for residential properties, but the potential sales to the hospitality industry are remarkable. We have completed installations for numerous restaurants, hotels and country clubs, giving each the ability to offer outdoor dining and entertaining in any weather. When an establishment has a Gennius, it can confidently book both the outdoor space and indoor space months in advance. It is no longer necessary to leave an inside ballroom or the like available in case of bad weather. This dramatically increases revenue for these businesses, making the Gennius a value that is hard to deny.

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