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June 1st, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs

The A&D Community

By Manny Hondroulis

The Architecture and Design (A&D) community specifies building materials for a project, whether new construction or retrofit. Forging relationships within the segment can pay a window film dealer great dividends. Of course, like anything worthwhile, it requires a lot of work.

First Impressions

For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume you have already identified an architecture firm that can potentially specify a solid amount of your products and services regularly and set up an introductory meeting … now what?

Whether the preliminary gathering is with the firm’s librarian or a group of the firm’s architects over a lunch and learn, begin by explaining the basic features and benefits of your service offering (sun control, security, decorative).

You may find that the audience knows little about film capability and that the firm is familiar with competing technologies. Blinds and shades can compete with sun control film, tempered and security glass with security film, and custom etched or sandblasted glass with decorative film. Consider familiarization with the basics of those alternative solutions to help guests comprehend where your selection fits into the equation.

Speak truthfully (obviously) when presenting, but don’t get bogged down by details and nuances of various films and cause confusion. Keep it high level; a deeper conversation about products for every occasion (light, dark, shiny,  clear, colorless, metalized, ceramic) could be unnecessary.

Display one film, preferably a light and colorless type, and explain how it can reduce a window’s solar heat gain coefficient, block ultraviolet (UV) light, diminish glare (if dark enough), and reduce temperature imbalances. Showcase a heat lamp and let the audience feel the infrared reduction. But be sure to explain how a reduction in infrared does not depict solar heat gain’s entire story. Everyone should walk away thinking the product increases the energy efficiency of an existing window— and makes those inside more comfortable—while not necessarily changing the window’s appearance.

Building Excitement

Architects have a general awareness of decorative films. To maintain their interest, consider honing in on this category. Contemplate spotlighting offerings because the decorative lineup serves a technical purpose, but it is often used for visual aesthetics.

Ask the audience if anyone presently is undertaking a project that could benefit from provided solutions. You might be surprised to hear that the answer is yes—request time offline with them to explore further.

Before leaving, drop off a product catalog or binder for the firm’s librarian. It should be of professional quality with an easily-read spine that would get noticed on the shelf quickly by an architect.

The initial presentation is crucial; however, the follow-up is of even greater importance. Too frequently, we make presentations and never hear from the firm again despite a successful first gathering.

Following up in a non-COVID world means stopping by the firm regularly with bagels, donuts, or sandwiches. The objective is to make an impression and for them to specify your solutions. If possible, inquire about architects’ current projects. Hammer home diverse solutions provided (energy, security, refresh). Perhaps you’ll find that their project could use related services.

Consistent Conversation

People must see you multiple times before they remember you and use your company. Visiting a firm once each month will assist towards that end. Architecture firms have turnover, so be sure to converse with any new members.

When architects request samples, ensure delivery is timely. They’re typically desired the next day and expect the same from your business. Fast service will increase chances of remembrance— and potential specification. They might also expect free mockups. Be willing to do them (within reason) to maintain the partnership.

Establishing rapport with a specifying firm takes time, energy, and resources. Once you establish credibility for fast and quality service, architects will routinely incorporate your products.

Manny Hondroulis is the vice president of Energy Distribution Products in Baltimore.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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