Article Library

Please enjoy reading reprints of articles written by The Apple Group for IDA’s International Door & Operator Industry.

Hiring Secret: Fish Where They're Biting (Jan–Feb 2018)

In this article, Dan Apple discusses how finding and hiring new employees takes time. Understanding that recruiting people requires a bit of selling and online advertising where potential employees visit is just the beginning of to finding the successful hire. Read More


Pride & Professionalism (Mar–Apr 2017)

Does your business look professional? The garage door industry has a wide diversity of professional dealers. From owner/operator "Chuck and a truck" to mom and pop shops to large dealers with multiple locations, all facing the same challenge… how to make their company stand out and be perceived as the best place for customers to call to repair or replace their garage door. What's the secret? It takes a lot to make a business successful, including sales smarts, marketing ability, a talented staff, good equipment, an adequate facility and financial expertise just to name a few. But the overarching ingredient in the secret sauce is professionalism. In this article, Dan Apple discusses what it takes to move your business from amateur to professional. Read More


Time for a Rat Killin' (Jan–Feb 2016)

In this article, Dan Apple discusses how to take an offensive position when dealing with unscrupulous garage door dealers, also commonly known in the industry as "Bad Bob." Rather than complain, Dan suggests that you "go to the mattresses" and explains how to take the fight to Bad Bob, while protecting your customer and your company's reputation. Read More


Going Behind the Curtain (Nov–Dec 2015)

In this article, Dan Apple discusses the importance of making a garage door dealer's website more personal. He discusses the importance of letting customers know who you are, not just what you do, and how to make the needed changes to your website for maximum impact. Read More


Goldilocks Selling (Sep–Oct 2015)

This article explains the "Goldilocks" selling strategy. When applied properly, a good-better-best sales approach can increase sales and profits. Read More


Mining for Gold (Jul–Aug 2015)

Want to increase sales without spending a ton of money? Why not sell more to the customers you already have. The secret to this is "mining" your valuable customer database for new sales opportunities. The most successful companies find ways to stay in touch with their customers, always keeping their brand in front of them. The same customer that purchased service may be in the market for a new door and operator. Why not reach out to them instead of waiting for them to come to you? This article explains how to dig out the sales dollars that are quietly sleeping inside your computer system. Read More


Finance Departments that Rock (May–Jun 2015)

Want to get a better handle on your company's profit's? Read Sandy Apple's latest article in the June issue of IDA's magazine. Read More


The Three Legged Stool (Mar–Apr 2015)

As your business grows, it gets more difficult to manage. Like most service businesses, a garage door dealership has three fundamental components: sales, operations and finance. In this article, we refer to this structure as "The Three Legged Stool" and outline how to better manage your business by organizing it into 3 separate yet linked departments. Read More


The Business We Have Chosen (Jan–Feb 2015)

As we reflect on the results of last year and look forward to the new one, it’s a good time to reflect on the direction of your business. What best describes the business you are in? Do you consider your company a garage door dealer that also offers service? Or are you in the customer service business that also offers garage door products? Take a minute and honestly ask yourself these two questions. What’s your answer? Read More


Compensating Sales People for Performance (Nov–Dec 2014)

What’s the best way to compensate outside sales people? My door dealer clients ask me this question a lot. There are many variables that come into play, but ultimately you have to decide what’s best for you. Straight salary? Commission? Commission plus? No matter how your plan is structured, sales compensation must be tied to sales performance. Read More


Five Things to Boost Profits Overnight Part 5 (Sep–Oct 2014)

Don’t you hate articles that are chopped up into installments? We all just want to zip on through to the end. Well you have arrived. If you have read the other four segments of this five part series, thanks for hanging in there. This is the final installment in this series and I trust by now you have implemented some of my ideas and that your business’ profits have increased. That brings us to the last way I am proposing that you boost profits overnight: eliminate crappy customers. Read More


Five Things to Boost Profits Overnight Part 4 (Jul–Aug 2014)

If you have been reading this series of articles on boosting your profits, perhaps you tried one or more of the first three strategies I suggested. Have you raised your prices? Reduced your cost of sales? Maybe changed your product mix? If the answer is yes to any of these, I trust your profits are all the better for it. If you have not done any of these, what are you waiting for? In this issue we will discuss the fourth way to boost profits by pumping up your sales volume. While it is a cliché, it’s a fact that selling is a numbers game, plain and simple. Read More


Five Things to Boost Profits Overnight Part 3 (Mar–Apr 2014)

Boost profits overnight? Really? If you have been reading this series of articles, what I am suggesting is that you can improve your products expeditiously and it does not have to take years to do. The key is aggressive, managerial action on your part with the daily support of your sales team. Each of these five things I am proposing can help significantly. Some can happen almost overnight, while others will take a little time to develop. That leads us right into #3 on my list: change your product mix. Read More


Five Things to Boost Profits Overnight Part 2 (Nov–Dec 2013

In the last issue we considered #1 on my list: raising your prices. I hope you did that as soon as you finished reading the article! Now let's consider #2 on the list: reducing your cost of sales. Read More


Five Things to Boost Profits Overnight Part 1 (Sep–Oct 2013)

What are you doing about improving profits? Those answers do not pop out quickly, and, more times than not, the perception is that increasing profits is a slow and difficult task. Maybe for some, but it doesn’t have to be. This article is the first in a series about five ways to boost your profits overnight. Read More


Are You Making My Job Easier or Harder (Jul–Aug 2013)

As a young man serving in the Navy, I was fortunate enough to learn quite a bit about leading a team. Of course, that did not happen overnight, as this young kid knew nothing at all about leading at age 19. After reporting to my first duty station, I was lucky enough to be assigned to an old salt as my supervisor: Senior Chief Petty Officer Billy D. Martin. He was nearing the end of his career as I was just beginning mine. During the eighteen months I served under his command I learned many things. Read More


Peddler or Professional (May–Jun 2013)

When your company markets your products and services, are you just giving quotes or providing presentations? In the last issue of D&OI, I wrote about embracing and pursuing more retail sales to homeowners and businesses as a way to increase sales and profits. This would move your company more towards becoming a full service door store instead of solely a garage door contractor. As stated in the article, several elements of your business would be affected, including your product line, showroom, advertising and buy-in from the employees. Read More


Show Me The Money! (Mar–Apr 2013)

If you're a garage door dealer and are still waiting for new home construction to come back to 2006 levels, don't read any further. Just turn the page and keep moving through this magazine because this article isn't for you. However, if you understand that those days are long gone but are looking for a new direction for your dealership, there's good news. Read More


What's Your Brand (Jan–Feb 2013)

So why is branding important to door dealers? Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. According to Brick Marketing, a marketing and research firm in Boston, Massachusetts, “to understand branding, it is important to know what brands are. A brand is the idea or image of a specific product or service that consumers connect with, by identifying the name, logo, slogan, or design of the company who owns the idea or image..." Read More


Increase Profits through Product Diversity (Nov–Dec 2012)

During my career as a door dealer, I can remember boasting to customers, “We only sell garage doors, that’s why we’re experts.” It was a true statement and we were confident in this product strategy. Economic times were good, the housing market was setting records year after year, and we were growing. Then in 1993, we realized that putting a majority of our eggs in the new construction basket may not be wise going forward. It was apparent that, at some point, housing and new commercial construction may slow significantly and then where would our then volume dependent sales come from? Read More


Coaching a Sales Team (Sep–Oct 2012)

So you've grown your business to the point where you need to add more sales people. Great. All you need to do is find a way to clone yourself, right? I mean, since most garage door company owners had to become accomplished sales people in order to succeed in their business, you just need to hire sales people that know what you know about selling. That's easier said than done. No, building and managing a successful sales team takes time, patience and resources. However when it's done well the dividends to your company can be huge. Read More