The 2005 Carriage-House Sales Report

© 2005 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Summer 2005
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Pages 52-56

The 2005 Carriage-House Sales Report

Judging by the exhibits at Expo 2005 in Nashville, carriage-house garage doors are all the rage. But sales have not yet caught up with the rage.

Stealing the Show

Expo’s exhibitors showed off a total of 84 carriage-house garage doors in wood, steel, composite, or whatever. That’s 84 carriage-house doors on one show floor!

Since a total of 135 residential garage doors were on display at Expo, the carriage-house doors comprised a remarkable 62 percent of all these doors. The other 51 doors were primarily steel raised-panel doors.

The steel carriage doors clearly stole the show. Of the 84 carriage-house doors, 49 of them (58 percent) were made of steel sections. Wood doors are still a show-stopper, as 23 graced the show floor in Nashville. The remaining 12 carriage-house doors featured a composite section of some kind.

Undeniable Popularity

Regardless of the material used, the popularity of the carriage-type design is undeniable. At Expo, 25 of the 31 residential garage door exhibitors were showing off a carriage-house door. That’s an astonishing 81 percent that have likely invested significant capital to add a new production line.

That number is striking also because only 21 manufacturers displayed a steel raised-panel door. It’s probably the first time in more than 20 years that steel raised-panel garage doors were overshadowed by another design at the industry’s annual garage door show.

So, the “Carriage-House Craze” continues. But actual sales indicate that the product is still in its beginning stages. After all, Expo is a reflection of the newest products on the market, not a reflection of current sales.

But Actual Sales?

So, how many carriage-house doors are now being sold?

According to a new Door & Access Systems Newsmagazine survey,1 44 percent of dealers say their carriage-house door sales are only 1-3 percent of their total residential garage door sales. Another 21 percent of dealers report that carriage-house doors make up 4-6 percent of their residential sales (see chart).

A D&AS survey of garage door manufacturers2 yielded similar results, as 29 percent said that carriage-house doors account for 1-3 percent of total residential door sales. Another 21 percent said carriage-house doors make up 4-6 percent of their residential sales, and 29 percent put the carriage share at 7-10 percent.

Carriage-house doors, especially with steel sections, are still very new. At Expo 2004, only 13 manufacturers displayed steel carriage-house doors, and some of these manufacturers were not yet ready to produce them. At Expo 2005, 20 manufacturers displayed the steel version, and some doors are still not yet ready for mass production.

Sales Hurdle #1: Price

Our dealer survey asked, “Why don’t you sell more carriage-house garage doors?” We then offered eight possible answers and let the respondents check all answers that applied. This survey question yielded an excellent response rate, as 217 dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada offered an answer.

The number-one reason for lack of carriage-house sales was related to price. Of the 217 respondents, 139 (64 percent) either checked the box that said, “Steel raised-panel doors are cheaper,” or added a specific comment about the higher price of carriage-house doors.

More than 80 respondents (a remarkable number) took the time to add a comment. Many of these remarks underscored the focus on price. The words “pricey” and “too expensive” were a common refrain.

Patrick McGlone of Raynor Overhead Door of Worcester, Mass., wrote, “Consumers are not ready to pay the extra price for carriage-house doors. I think the market will go to stamped two-sided carriage-house doors. I believe they will sell then.”

Another anonymous dealer offered a similar vision: “The expense involved for the average homeowner is too high. Although the steel carriage-house doors are bridging the gap in price.”

Sales Hurdle #2: Design Suitability

The second most common reason why dealers aren’t selling more carriage-house doors was, “Carriage-house doors are suitable only for limited home designs.” This response was selected by 113 dealers, or 52 percent of all respondents.

Some dealers indicated that the carriage-style lacks appeal. One dealer wrote, “Steel carriage-house doors are not as good looking as raised-panel steel doors.” And another: “The demand for this (carriage) style door seems to be very low.”

Even though half of all respondents felt the carriage-house design had limited use, several dealers offered positive comments about the potential wide appeal of these doors. One dealer predicted that the doors “are going to increase in demand quite quickly this building season. We are seeing them specified on designs and bid projects with increasing frequency.”

Overcoming Hurdles

The negative focus of this survey should not deter enthusiasm for the carriage-house door. That is, this survey didn’t ask for positive reasons why the doors are selling; it sought negative reasons why the doors are not selling in greater quantities.

We hope that this survey report will be a useful tool for dealers and manufacturers as they continue to market and enhance the appeal of this new product. Knowing the key hurdles to overcome is a critical first step in making progress.

A Promising Future?

Some dealers clearly see a promising future for carriage-house doors. As one dealer said, “We are expecting this door to increase in the coming years to about 50 percent as prices start to become affordable.”

“Carriage-house doors have given our company something new to offer and a good reason to contact our clients,” echoed another.

Some manufacturers, too, see a positive vision of the future. Tim Miller, marketing manager at C.H.I., wrote, “We as an industry need to continue the push to up-sell to premium products like carriage-house doors.

“Highlight the added value and curb appeal that premium products offer. Encourage the builder market to choose on something other than price.”

Checking the Pulse

This survey should not be viewed as a definitive beginning or ending of the carriage-house craze. This study is merely a pulse check and a snapshot of the growth of the hottest new product in our industry at a critical point in time.

The value of this study will increase as time goes by. When we conduct the same survey in one or two years, these 2005 results will provide a valuable benchmark for measuring the progress between now and then.

Until then … good luck and good selling!

Footnote 1: Between April 26 and May 6, 2005, 967 garage door dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada were invited to participate in this online survey; 263 dealers responded.
Footnote 2: The manufacturer survey, conducted from April 27 to May 6, 2005, went to 19 U.S. and Canadian manufacturers of carriage-house doors; 14 responded.

Carriage-House Door Displays
Expo 2005
Nashville, Tenn.
· Wood Carriage-House Doors / 23 / (27.4%)
· Steel Carriage-House Doors / 49 / (58.3%)
· Composite/Other / 12 / (14.3%)
· Total / 84 / (100%)

What percentage of your total residential garage door sales are carriage-house garage doors?
(Between April 26 and May 6, 2005, 967 garage door dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada were invited to participate in this online survey; 263 dealers responded.)
· 0% / 22 / (8.4%)
· 1-3% / 115 / (43.7%)
· 4-6% / 54 / (20.5%)
· 7-10% / 36 / (13.7%)
· 11-15% / 11 / (4.2%)
· 16-20% / 7 / (2.7%)
· 21-25% / 4 / (1.5%)
· 26-30% / 4 / (1.5%)
· 31-35% / 2 / (0.8%)
· 36-40% / 2 / (0.8%)
· 41-45% / 0 / (0%)
· 46-50% / 3 / (1.1%)
· More than 50% / 3 / (1.1%)
· Total / 263 / (100%)

Why don’t you sell more carriage-house garage doors? (Check all that apply.)
· Steel raised-panel doors are cheaper. / 139 / (64%)
· Carriage-house doors are suitable only for limited home designs. / 113 / (52%)
· The product is too new. / 35 / (16%)
· I’m concerned about the long-term performance of carriage-house doors. / 32 / (15%)
· It takes too long to get carriage-house doors delivered. / 27 / (12%)
· We know better how to sell and install steel raised-panel doors. / 15 / (7%)
· Many customers don’t like carriage-house doors. / 11 / (5%)
· Our installers don’t like to install carriage-house doors. / 2 / (1%)