Monday, December 11

What Happened to The Window Treatment Business?

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Being in the window treatment industry for the past 24 years I have seen a lot of changes. The window treatment business of today is nothing like it was when I began in the early eighties and then through the boom of the nineties.  

When I first started out in the business it was a more personal business, with more attention given to things like customer service, consulting, installation and service of the product. In the 90’s there was a large boom in the industry as the real estate market experienced unprecedented home sales while banks made a record number (some that should not have been made) of loans to first time home owners.

In the late nineties a shift in the window treatment industry took place that I feel caused damage to the industry. The industry shifted from in-home service to Internet based sales.

This shift changed the way custom window treatments were sold and installed, moving away from the professional custom window treatment dealer and creating a self service type of industry. No more was attention paid to things like customer service, professional estimates, in-home consultations and experienced installation.

As a result the industry was sold out while competitors quickly took their business online in an attempt to see who could sell their product for less. Since less attention was paid to service, quality and customer interaction, what resulted was an industry being devalued as consumers were under the false assumption that a professional was not needed and that they could do these things themselves and save money.

The window treatment industry like any other professional industry does require the help of a skilled professional. The consumer in most cases does not understand the many facets related to measuring, ordering and installing custom window treatments. When problems arise (and they always do) they are shocked to find out that since they are the ones that measured their windows, they are the ones ultimately responsible for any problems such as wrong measurements, color, installation and repair. This can be easily demonstrated by going to most any Internet blinds dealer and reading their reviews.

When doing so use a reliable site like e-opinions to get e real review, not the reviews listed on the company website as these are often fake reviews submitted by friends and relatives. If the reviews are overly positive, in most cases they are not real reviews.

The reviews I selected were totally random and in no way am I singling out these companies. In all fairness all online blinds companies have these issues and it’s not always their fault. Some may actually provide bad customer service but in most cases the problem is with the consumer. Yes that’s right I said it, the customer is not always right and when they are wrong they very rarely will own up to their mistakes. I know this from personal experience because I too tried my hand at online sales for a very short time before realizing that this was not the way to run a window treatment company.

The problem is most consumers do not know how to measure, order and install custom window treatments and even when given detailed instructions cannot do so. In all fairness this is not their fault as they are not window treatment professionals so why should they be able too? Just as I would not attempt to service my own air conditioner because I am not an air conditioning specialist, people should not assume they are a window treatment professional.

Most consumers are not aware of things like, there will be a ½ inch deduction taken on the width of all inside mount ordered blinds. Most consumers will deduct form the width when ordering then when they get their blinds; the blinds are too narrow because of the factory deduction taken. The consumer will immediately put the blame on the company they ordered from even though they checked a box on the website stating that they understand that this is a custom order and cannot be returned if a mistake was made by the consumer. The customer is upset because they paid money for custom blinds that are not custom because they do not fit, and the company cannot be responsible for measurements which they did not take, so this creates problems that turn into reviews like the ones above.

So what is the answer? Obviously it is to have a professional come to your home, show you samples of what you will being purchasing, give you advice, measure your windows and then return at a later date and install them. If service is ever needed a professional will come to your home and service your blinds. If there is a problem with any part of the process the company is responsible as they are the ones that measured, ordered and installed the window treatments. This takes all responsibility off the consumer and limits the possibility of bad customer/business relations.

By returning customer service and a hands on approach to the window treatment industry the result will be a satisfied customer as well as a profitable and successful business, resulting in a win-win for all!

Mike Wasdin


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