Updated: Feb 3
I absolutely love the International Window Coverings Expo (IWCE) that is put on every year. I have attended for as long as I have been in the window covering industry.
Knowledge is power.
The more we know, the more successful we can become.
According to the United States government Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average attorney in the U.S. makes a little more than $127,000 a year. To make that income, they went to school for at least seven years: four years for an undergraduate degree and three years of law school. Want to get a master’s degree in business administration? That will typically take four years for an undergraduate degree and another two years to complete the master’s program. The average person with an MBA will make about $101,000 a year (according to Investopedia.com).
What education does it take to open a business or start going to people’s homes to present our product lines? None.
Small business owners and salespeople come from diverse backgrounds. It takes no formal education at all. It takes chutzpah! Many business owners and salespeople I know earned their high school diplomas or GEDs and did not attend or graduate from college. Their secondary education? Yeah … that came from the School of Hard Knocks. What most of them, if not all, have is a desire to be their own boss, a desire to make a difference in helping people, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Sadly, many of us can feel alone as we struggle to find the practices and strategies that will work best for our business. Have you ever attempted a task you did not know how to do, and messed it up repeatedly, only to find that had you asked the right person for help, it would have taken just half the time, a quarter of the cost, and a tenth of the aggravation? Small business owners and salespeople can meet or exceed the incomes of people who have spent years and years in college by finding educational support from the leaders in their industry.
That is why I love IWCE. Anything you could possibly want or need for your window-covering business can be found at IWCE.
Are automation and motorization not your strong suits? Along with the multitude of manufacturers who can help, O’D McKewan will get you off the ground with his three-hour master class. Need help training a new installer? Roger Magalhaes will get them started with everything they need to get the job done, as well as teach them how to provide a five-star installation and customer service experience. Does your sales team need a boost? Look no further than 3 Blind Mice’s own Kathy Cragg Pace and her super session “The Hero’s Guide to Sales Success.”
Interested in learning more about pay-per-click and social media advertising? Will Hanke and Sara Lynn Brennan have a session for you. Trying to find the best strategies to run your business or any business? The level of education provided by LuAnn Nigara, Jessica Harling, and Madeleine MacRae is on par with master’s-level college courses. Business owners do not forget why we do this in the first place: In order to be successful, to grow, hire and retain team members, we must make a profit. That is easier said than done. Vince Nigara’s class “Benchmark Numbers for a Profitable Business” and Michele Williams’ class “Plug the Profit Leaks in Your Business” should not be missed.
Most of the folks mentioned above are available for business coaching, mentoring, and training in all aspects of a window covering business. Take advantage of your time at IWCE to get to know them and see what they can do to help you take your business to the next level.
I find educating myself about effective business strategies and new products in the window business world has had the largest impact on the success of my business. Each year, I get myself inside rooms full of people smarter than me. Twice a year, I attend three-day seminars pertaining to running a business and being profitable. Twice a year, I get together with a mastermind group of like-minded business owners. And twice a year, I get together with the folks at Exciting Windows! (ExcitingWindows.com) for our conferences, where ideas are shared by independent window covering companies from all over the country. Through this networking, relationships are formed. When a dilemma comes up, or a problem needs additional eyes, the folks from these groups offer each other support and fresh ideas. Quite often, someone else has already had to tackle whatever situation you find yourself in and can offer guidance.
If you make it to IWCE this year, I know you will learn something new or will feel inspired to implement a new strategy in your own business. If you can’t make it this year, I encourage you to set a goal for 2023 to get involved in continuing your education.
The more you learn, the more you and your business can grow, leading to another check mark in the sold column!
Article Contributed by Oliver Schreiber, CEO of Beltway Blinds
Oliver Schreiber is the owner of a $ 12,000,000-a-year window treatment company, Beltway Blinds and More, covering homes in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. Oliver has been a sales and marketing professional for his entire adult life, leading sales and marketing teams for nationally-ranked home improvement companies prior to opening Beltway Blinds in 2012.
In 2020, Beltway Blinds chose to remain open during the pandemic with limited staff, covid-precautions, and online consultations, and practically DOUBLED their business from just over $5,000,000 in net revenue to just under $10,000,000 in net revenue. This was done despite being stripped of 50% of their lead sources, which were face-to-face marketing campaigns. In 2021, Beltway Blinds continued to grow by another 20% while focusing on exceptional customer service and profitability. He is an annual contributor to Window Fashion VISION Magazine, writing the SOLD column at the back of the magazine. You can read Oliver's latest column here.