Review from the Summit: S.F.I. Programs – – The Promise and the Problems (Part 3)

The final presenter on S.F.I. Programs at the Home Improvement Economic Summit was Rob Levin. Mr. Levin holds a degree in Accounting and a CPA certificate, and moved through public accounting to became the controller at a large wholesale building supply company. In 1982 he became part of a newly founded retail siding and window company (American Remodeling) which became a licensee for Sears under their SFI program. AMRE eventually became a public company with average annual volume ranging from $250 to $300 million with 65 offices. He is currently president of Statewide Remodeling of Grand Prairie, TX, which was established in 1994, and is today listed as the 24th largest company in Remodeling Magazine.

Mr. Levin’s extensive background in S.F.I. Programs made him an ideal choice to conclude this part of the program. A summary of his key points regarding S.F.I. included:

Positives:

  • Brings a good lead flow
  • National name gives credibility
  • Excellent financing options are frequently available
  • Can add income to your bottom line

Negatives:

  • You are creating your own competition
  • Seasonality of traffic
  • Higher marketing cost due to licensing fees
  • Cash flow difficulty at beginning
  • Cash flow can be slower
  • May affect core business

Steps for Success:

  • Start slowly
  • Keep the hours down
  • Understand the seasonality factor
  • Analyze S.F.I. business separate from core business
  • Assign separate salesmen when possible
  • Make one person responsible for in-store activities
  • Build relationship with the store manager

If you did not have the opportunity make sure to read the previous two posts on S.F.I. Programs. You will discover that all of the presenters shared many of the same key points. The key take-away was that S.F.I. programs can be effective if the right elements are in place; however, they are not for everyone.

The next topic I will review from the Summit will be how to get the most out of shows and events.

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