SALES TIPS Selling Green Garage Doors: Can We Say “Green” Yet?

© 2007 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Winter 2007
Author: Scott O’Neill
Page 66

Selling Green Garage Doors
Can We Say “Green” Yet?

By Scott O’Neill

Editor’s Note: In our fall issue, Scott focused on how the environmental movement can help you sell garage doors. In this issue, Scott reports from his visit to this fall’s West Coast Green (WCG) Building Conference in San Francisco, Calif., and how garage door salespeople can communicate about green issues to inquiring customers.

Since the “green building” industry is still in its early stages, the garage door trade is still struggling to develop definitions and policies that determine what makes a “green garage door.”

Part of the picture is the raw material that goes into the product, such as the types and species of wood in garage doors. A key question is what percentage of a door is made from recycled post-consumer products or from sustainable foresting.

Another part is how garage doors are made. Yet another green issue is how the doors affect a home’s overall energy efficiency. Since we have so many types and designs of garage doors, we could have doors with hundreds of “shades of green.”

Insights From West Coast Green

After visiting the West Coast Green Building Conference in September with Doug Sequeira of Carriage House Door Company, I admit that I returned with more questions than answers.

We tried to locate experts who could identify and verify requirements for becoming “FSC Certified.” The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies certain wood species in products, identifying what percentages are derived from sustainable foresting or recycled content.

Many “experts” had no answers, even those who were commissioned to operate informational booths. Because of the many components that go into a garage door, numerous steps, processes, and materials complicate the formulas. It seems clear that the definition of a “green garage door” is still in development.

Key Definitions

As we search for this definition, we need to consider the facts we know. The U.S. Green Building Council’s definition helps us identify the key issues: “A green home uses less energy, water, and natural resources, creates less waste, and is healthier for the people living inside compared to a standard home.”

In California, projects can be certified as “GreenPoint Rated.” West Coast Green says, “A GreenPoint Rated home is graded in five categories: energy efficiency, resource conservation, indoor air quality, water conservation, and community. If the home meets minimum point requirements in each category and scores more than 50 total points, it earns the right to bear the GreenPoint Rated label.”

So What Do We Do Now?

Even though the definition of “green” is a moving target, garage door salespeople still have some practical issues to face. Because more customers are asking about green issues, we need to be ready with helpful information.

We’re in, as I call it, “the Early Stage Green Era.” Yet, we need some guidelines for garage door salespeople on how to talk about green issues with our customers. Here are my suggestions:

1) Market honestly. Some companies are advertising online how they’re green. State facts, not fluff. Just because you recycle the metal from old doors and/or hardware, your company doesn’t qualify as truly green.

2) Understand the green features of your products so you can meet the specific needs/wants of your clients. For example, if they’re concerned about light efficiency throughout their home, inform them about windows and their importance to the garage door.

3) Speak truthfully about the wood species you carry. Many companies are claiming to have sustainable woods, but how do they verify this? Insist on certification papers to validate the claims from your suppliers.

4) Don’t go out on a limb. If you don’t know the answer to a green question, just say so. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and don’t make statements you can’t verify.

Even though concrete answers are still being developed, the green building movement can have a great influence on our trade. It will have us all striving for smarter ways to be successful with garage door sales, and it’s our responsibility to do so.

Scott O’Neill has been in the garage door business since 1986 and a sales manager since 1992 at Madden Door, Martinez, Calif.