Buying replacement windows should be easy.
In recent years, however, the window sales industry has become associated with high-pressure, in-home sales pitches and dodgy business practices.
The Washington Attorney General’
s Office reached settlements with two big-name window companies in Western Washington in 2009 and 2010 to protect consumers from bullying and misleading claims about prices and unproven energy savings.
Jeffrey Keirstead of Snohomish, who spent 25 years in the traditional window sales business, left it five years ago to reinvent himself — and, perhaps, the industry — with his new Web-based window replacement business, Umeasureit.com.
Keirstead’s business model is definitely a new one for windows: Allow customers to order windows and installation online after doing their own measuring, a method that eliminates dreadful time-consuming, commission-based sales calls, Keirstead said.
Keirstead, 60, will be at the Everett Home & Garden Show this weekend to explain how his business works.
Don’t expect to find a large display of windows in his show booth. He’ll send you to the other window vendors at the show to see product samples.
“I’m selling more of a concept, online sales, no commission and no salesman,” Keirstead said. “I try to drive traffic to my website.”
Keirstead has attended area home shows since he founded his business in 2007.
He uses his computer to show customers how to use his website, where he sells only Milgard-brand windows, vinyl as well as fiberglass, which can be painted and are also available with wood-interior options.
“I invite people to bring their window sizes,” he said. “We sit down and they get prices out of me. There are a lot of people who appreciate that.”
Keirstead’s website tells customers how to measure their windows so they can build a basic online estimate. Once a customer places an order, Keirstead calls to make sure he has all the details correct.
Then one of his installation crews goes out to the job site to double check the measurements, and to make sure the ordered windows can be installed correctly and according to current building codes.
“We make sure there are no mistakes,” Keirstead said. “I haven’t had anybody unhappy with the process.”
Indeed, no complaints have been filed regarding Umeasureit.com on the Washington Department of Labor & Industries’ website or the Better Business Bureau’s website.
Keirstead said he keeps costs down to an average of $600 per window, including installation, a figure he says is a 40 percent lower than the industry average.
“By not having to pay a salesman to go to their home, it takes 25 percent of the cost away immediately,” he said.
Though business isn’t booming for Keirstead in the down economy, he still has long-term hopes of franchising.
Already, a Seattle businessman has copied some of his online-pricing strategies.
“The concept is sound, and I believe, over time, it will grow bigger and bigger,” Keirstead said. “I’m finding a lot of the young people are very computer savvy.
“They don’t want some salesman.”
Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Snohomish, 425-346-6719, www.umeasureit.com