Operations, Sales & Marketing, V10I2

Rise of the Carport and Metal Structures Industry 

I remember back around 1997-98 seeing carport displays start popping up on the scene. 

Usually, it was one small display, an 18 by 21 by 6 regular roof style carport for $595 installed. To be very honest, I thought that they looked inexpensive and considered them a novelty product. 

Over time, my customers would ask me if I sold carports. It became clear to me that there was a growing need for carports, so I decided to pursue it. 

Fate would intervene when a representative from a carport company stopped by my office to pitch me on becoming a dealer. The deal sounded pretty good. The rep said that I would be provided a display and receive a 10 percent commission upfront on any sale. 

My display finally arrived, and to my surprise, I started to get major interest. The good news was that I started selling a few carports and was enjoying my new profit center. The bad news was that I started to get phone calls from concerned customers that they had not heard anything from the installers. 

I called the carport manufacturer, and they informed me that they would not send out the installers until they had enough orders to justify the trip. Wow, I thought to myself. I really couldn’t give my customers any updates on their orders, and I had to eventually refund a few deposits.

 I kept selling carports over the next few years, and I decided to adjust my sales approach with carports and give my customers the good, the bad, and the ugly speech to paint a picture to set expectations. 

Customer complaints went way down to say the least, and I discovered that letting my customers know what to expect up front was the only way to move forward and have success selling carports.

Fast forward to around 2011-2012, and I saw a quantum leap of improvement in the carport company that I was dealing with in terms of customer service, better communication, scheduling, and a commitment to the dealers that did volume. 

They also started supplying more structures for demos such as garages, horse barns, taller RV carports, and other metal structures. And because I was considered a top producer, I was given more demos to sell. 

My sales began to really take off when I started to have a variety of metal structures to sell, along with my adjusted sales approach. 

Over time, carport manufacturers have added a wide variety of designs with three different roof styles. You can choose the regular roof style (the original design) in which the metal ribs run horizontal. The boxed Eave style is more squared and also features horizontal ribs, and then you have the vertical roof style where the ribs run vertically (the best option). 

One of the big selling points is that the roof, the frame, and the supports are all metal—no wood whatsoever. 

The carport industry has also made great strides in getting approval from local zoning offices by investing in engineered stamped drawings for almost all their products. 

My carport company, like many others, has developed a 3D configurator that has really revolutionized selling carports—drastically reducing the time to figure out pricing and design the structure. Rent to own is an extremely important and widely used option as well.

Here are the reasons that I encourage you to add carports and metal structures to your shed lot. 

First off, sheds and carports go hand in hand and truly complement each other. Over the last 10 years, carports and metal structures have become a huge part of my business and bottom line. 

To be frank, I envision that my carport and metal structures category is going to surpass my shed program in the future. The point is that if you want to grow your shed business in a big way, you really need to investigate adding carports and metal structures to your offering. 

If you decide to add carports and metal structures (which I highly recommend), you have a plethora of companies to choose from. Keep in mind that all carport companies are not created equal. 

I have been an authorized dealer for Eagle Carports for many years, which in my opinion is the top of the food chain in the industry. Eagle has been in business since 1997 and has been a pioneer since its inception. Eagle has consistently operated the right way with a focus on quality control and customer service. 

No, things do not always go as planned, but whenever a problem arises, Eagle has always worked with me to straighten out any issues. 

My advice is to pick a carport company that manufactures its products and components like Eagle. With Eagle’s carport program, I have been fortunate to become their No. 1 dealer in Kentucky/No. 4 in the United States. 

I’m not bragging. I just want to impress upon you the value that a great carport company can add to your existing shed business.

Adding carports and metal structures to your shed business can boost your sales and give you that “extra advantage” over your competition. If you don’t offer them, you can’t sell them; allowing your competition to capture all those potential sales. Don’t let that happen. 

Shed Nation, I encourage you to take action and add carports and metal structures as soon as you can.

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June/July 2024