Do you know one-third of the front of the home is a garage door? Pat Lohse, VP of Marketing with Clopay Doors knows this full well and much more. She shares her insights and experience about two different often overlooked items in home building and design that make a difference.
I’m Pat Lohse. I have been in the garage door business for 35 years. It’s hard to believe it’s been 35 years. The first day I got in this business, I love the product, I love our customers, and I love our company. And it’s been that way for 35 years. I just love the fact that what we do has such a direct impact on our dealer installers because we are the business for them. I’ve made a point of making an impact over the years, especially when it comes to design and building the Clopay brand. Centered on the fact that a garage door can truly transform someone’s home because 30 to 40% of the home’s exterior is garage door. I’ve taken that under my wing, and I’m very proud of the fact that we kind of revolutionized a door from being more of a functional item to fashionable item, that people today want to put our doors on their homes and replace their existing garage doors to make their homes look better.
As homeowners have not been spending money on vacations, daycare, entertainment or otherwise, have you seen an uptick in garage remodels?
Well, we have definitely seen an increase in garage door replacement. I can’t really speak for garage remodels, but I can speak for garage doors themselves. And it’s really because people are finally recognizing that garage doors have an impact on their energy efficiency and comfort. More importantly, a garage door can be noisy, or it can be quiet. So that’s become important. And then finally, and probably most important is a garage door can really make a home look different and better, and consumers are recognizing that.
We’ve had, during the pandemic, a huge uptick in our website visits, they’re uploading their home image and using our Door Imagination System to determine which door is best for them. We send those leads to our dealers. So we’ve seen a huge uptick in that, and that’s because people are home and they hear that noisy garage door, or they have a room above the garage and it’s cold and they go, I don’t want it to be cold, or they look at their garage door and they go, man, I’ve never really looked at my house like I am today. Because I’m there so much. I really want to replace that garage door cause I want my home to look better.
It’s really been good for our industry. We are, as everyone in building products is, dealing with supply chain issues. So it’s tough because we’d like to get our doors in and out, made in and out as quickly as we can. But because of all the pieces and parts that have to come together, just like a car, it’s tough to get all those pieces and parts together to get them out. There are some delays now, but the bottom line is, the pandemic and people’s desire to make their homes better and reflect who they are. It’s been a good thing for our industry.
People don’t realize that you can really transform your home in basically a day or less because installers are very efficient. I mean, that’s their business. That’s, that’s what they do. And it doesn’t disrupt the rest of the home. So they come in, they take out the existing door, replace it with a new one. They don’t have to come inside. And of course, during the pandemic, that was important too that you wanted to keep people outside.
How has the importance of curb appeal made a difference in the way you market to current and potential clients?
I think curb appeal has always been important but like I said before, garage doors, 20-25 years ago, that was pretty much a raised panel door, maybe with windows, but it was a raised panel door. And now there are hundreds of design options. Wood grain looks, solid colors, different design of windows, different wood species, composite materials that look like wood. So, there’s a really a garage door for any style of home. And what we’re seeing today too, are a lot of mid-century modern homes where they didn’t have a lot of design options they do today because we have some neat door designs where you’ve got windows down one side that can complement the windows on the home or different colors and wood grains to compliment the home. We have a lot of contemporary styles as well.
Please tell us about what the Door Imagination System is and how it works?
Okay. You just go to our website, and you find the Door Imagination System that’s on our homepage. You can just click on it, and you can upload an image of your home and then insert different doors to see which ones look best on your home. At the end, you can email that. Let’s just say I did it. I want to email it to my spouse for input or, I can find a dealer from there and send that configuration right to that dealer so they can see what it is that I’m looking at. Typically a dealer will come out though and measure to make sure that the size is right. There’s the right headroom and side room and things like that, but we make it as seamless as possible for people to upload those images. We launched a new version a couple years ago and further enhanced it this year because some of them look cartoonish and we try to make ours look as realistic as you can possibly make it look. I think we’ve done a really nice job with it.
We also have a system for our dealers to use in the field. It’s called My Door and what’s neat about this is, the dealer goes right out to the consumer’s home, takes a picture of their door on their iPad, and then they can configure three different doors on that homeowner’s house. It prices it at the dealer installed price. There’s a backend admin function where the dealer puts in their margins and all that information. So that then the consumer can look at three different door collections and decide which one looks best on their home and which one fits in their budget. Let’s just say the homeowner decided to select a door. That dealer then can take it from My Door, which goes right into our online ordering system I-store. They immediately place that order. So literally they could drive out of the driveway and have that order placed within our system. It’s an awesome system.
During the pandemic, a lot of dealers used My Door in Zoom meetings with homeowners. The homeowner would send them a picture of their home and they would do it online, just like what we’re doing. They don’t have to physically see the homeowner at the house. I’m just so glad we had the at system in place years ago. It makes it easy for homeowners.
And the other thing is, people don’t buy a garage door very often. So they have no idea of all the design options in the pricing. Everybody wants to know what’s the price. Well, our dealers have pricing that varies all over the place, just because we have wind load doors in Florida and anywhere in the coast, Texas, the Carolinas, and that requires additional reinforcement. Those doors are a little bit more expensive. So it’s really tough for us to have any kind of pricing on our website, but dealers, they can easily then provide homeowners with various price point options.
What kind of things do you think inspire the decisions homeowners make when creating their dream home?
Well, I think that they go online, and they look at Pinterest, Instagram, of course, various websites. I think people pick up magazines depending on their age group. I know I’m one of those that physically likes to hold a magazine and flip through and look at design ideas. I think there’s so many more ways for people to get inspiration today than ever before. Influencers, for example. We work with a lot of influencers and I love to see how creative they are it’s just amazing. HGTV, DIY networks, people just love to watch those networks to get inspiration and ideas. So I think there’s just so many ways for homeowners to get ideas. I think it’s almost to a point where it could be overwhelming too. There are so many design options, but I think that’s just a great way to get ideas.
As a woman in construction, what can we do to increase the number of women in our business now and in the future?
That’s a great question. I think women need to make sure that they’re at the table, first of all, that they put themselves out in front and take a leadership role. I think women there sometimes a tendency is, because it is very male dominated, to step back and not be there at the table. I also think that leaders in the industry need to have women in management roles, in leadership roles because women bring a different perspective. A lot of the decisions that are made are made by women.
I think that leaders can help companies address women and their needs better than the men can because they understand. I know with garage doors it kind of depends if it’s a D.I.Y project, most of them are professionally installed, but women are the ones, if you ask dealers, who make the final decision. The man usually goes whatever she wants if he is happy with the functionality and the maintenance requirements. From a design perspective, it’s her call. I am seeing more men being involved in selecting the design of garage doors.
I think it really benefits companies to have women in leadership. Companies need to make sure that they are including the women in discussions. In some cases, it’s a good old boys club. They need to be more sensitive to the fact that some women may not want to do that. So, they need to make sure that either they’re included or there’s some other function that when you’re brainstorming, you’re having those discussions they’re included.
Thank you. Pat.
Watch the conversation with Pat on the Draper DNA YouTube channel by clicking HERE.
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