Home improvement companies work in one of the most competitive business sectors in the UK. There are hundreds of other companies chasing exactly the same business as you and the type of work you do will often mean that you enter a bidding war to make sure that you secure a customer's order.
Advertising and marketing therefore takes up, generally speaking, a higher proportion of a company's turnover when they're in home improvements than many other sectors.
In this article, Leads 2 Trade considers
- the best ways that you can measure the effectiveness of the different ways to reach out to customers,
- how you can increase your chances of winning the order when you're in front of the customers, and
- what you need to know about Lead2Trade's enquiry generation system.
Do we know where our leads are coming from?
Most home improvement companies get their leads in from a number of different sources. All of them have their uses and the most successful businesses have more than one route to find customers - the so-called "marketing mix".
With each method of marketing you use, you (and your colleagues) should make a note of where a particular lead has come from as you'll need the information to work out your cost per lead and cost per customer acquisition - we'll cover shortly why those two numbers are very important.
Which ones are you using?
Existing customer contact
Did you know that it costs substantially less to sell to an existing customer than it does to find a new one? That's because there's already a bank of trust in your company, the quality of your work, and the responsiveness of your after-care.
Contacting existing customers should be part of any home improvement company's sales and marketing drives. The key to success is staying in touch with them, perhaps by sending an email newsletter once a month giving them the latest company news and offers plus a catch-up phone call from customer services once every six months.
Get in touch too often and it'll feel to them like you're harassing them. However, keeping a good and respectful distance from them but reminding them that you're there just in case they need you will maintain great relationships with your clients plus, when they�re ready to buy, the chances are that you'll get called in to give a quote.
Over the last 10-15 years, the newspaper industry (both paid-for and free titles) has suffered greatly as advertising and marketing budgets are spent by companies more online than for on-the-page advertising.
Many home improvement companies still consider local newspapers are a valuable route to market and you may be able to persuade your local advertising rep into selling you some cheap advertising space for a limited time.
Search engine optimisation
Search engine optimisation - the art of structuring a website and wording the web pages on that website - specifically to appeal to Google and search engines so that you appear near the top of the search results is a precise art which requires significant upfront investment.
While it may be suitable for national companies with a broad geographic spread, the costs of SEO for smaller, regionally-based companies may be more difficult to justify. SEO takes months - sometimes up to two years - so you may be spending a lot of money to have it done correctly before you begin to see any actual income as a result. Proceed with caution.
Keyword advertising is when you buy a specific search term - like "eco-boiler" or "tiled conservatory roof replacement" - which places an advert for your business right at the top of Google's results for the particular search term.
Using keyword advertising allows you to jump ahead of your competitors but it does come at a price. While you are only charged every time someone clicks on your link, it may take 50-100 clicks or more to produce a lead. This approach can be very successful for companies in the home improvement sector but you should be prepared to spend a lot before you get your advertising terms right.
Door-to-door marketing has declined in popularity over the last few years for home improvements companies but it is still an approach many consider as worth trying.
The fact that there are fewer door-to-door marketing specialists may actually work on in your favour as its relative rarity means that customer resistance to the approach may be a lot smaller because they're not having to answer the door six or seven times a week to people asking them for money.
Telephone marketing is also becoming a route to market which belongs more to the past than the future with the general migration away from landline telephones and the fact that there are nearly 20 million domestic telephone numbers registered with the legally binding Telephone Preference Service.
Although telephone canvassing was not particularly affected by the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduced in May 2018, many home improvement companies still view telemarketing as an important outreach tool to reach their potential customers.
More used by utility, broadband, and mobile phone companies, a few home improvement firms find in-store hand-outs and "consultation islands" a great way to take contact details and make appointments.
They can be quite expensive in up-front costs however occupying a high footfall area inside a popular store or shopping centre will allow you to demonstrate your products (if applicable) to members of the general public.
Still very popular and cost-effective, home improvement companies may have 5,000 brochures or leaflets designed, printed, and delivered for less than £1,000. If you want to base a sales and marketing campaign around leafleting, you'll likely face a lead time of up to 30-50 days depending on the speed of the designer and copywriter you chose to build the leaflet, the capacity of the printing company, and the delivery schedule of the door-drop company.
Email direct marketing
This has become much harder to do in the era of GDPR - most consumer email marketing company list companies have had great difficulty preparing for the new data regulation because of the new and peculiarly onerous compliance requirements the sector now must conform to.
If this is a method you want to try, please make sure that you buy in lists only from a member of the Direct Marketing Association.
If you want to market by email (or send email newsletters) to people who have bought from you or who have made an enquiry in the past, this will nearly always qualify as a legitimate use of that data under GDPR however always make sure that you include a free-of-charge and easy-to-use opt out option.
Buying leads in
One of the major growth areas for home improvement companies looking for new leads is by purchasing pre-qualified leads through a lead generation company (like Leads 2 Trade).
Although not every enquiry will result in a sale, leads are always pre-qualified by trained sales and marketing representatives within the lead generation company who use conversation and gentle questioning to ascertain the level of interest in the homeowner who made the enquiry.
To find out how much it costs for each lead, divide the amount of money you allocate to a particular marketing channel by the number of leads actually generated. You'll be able to see which routes are less expensive than others and you'll be better able to plan your future marketing spend from there.
You can work out your gross return on investment by dividing the amount you turned over from a particular route to customers by the amount you spent on advertising. In the above example, you can see that, when buying leads in, every £1 spent on this form of marketing resulted in £10 worth of spending back.
If your budgets are tight, give yourself the best chance of making new sales by choosing the marketing approaches you take by the cost per lead. If money is not tight, choose the approach with the greatest gross return on investment.
What can we do to speed up customers' decisions?
There's an old saying in business that "if it gets old, it gets cold". What that means is that the longer it takes a customer to make a decision, the more likely it is for their interest to wane during that time leading to no order being placed at all (either with you or with one of your competitors).
What are Lead2Trade's top tips about how leave the best possible impression with a client to encourage them to say "yes" to you there and then or very shortly afterwards?
Encourage a larger installation
If you have an idea of your client's budget and what they have in mind falls some distance short of their budget, encourage them to save money by allocating all of their bigger budget on a larger installation.
Give them a list of the extra options they have open to them and make sure you tailor your description of what it is you're offering to meet what your client wants from their new boiler, conservatory, solar panel installation, and more.
It's always cheaper for customers to get everything done at once rather than in two or three phases so you can really demonstrate value to them and that you understand their needs by presenting options to them that they might just not get from anyone else.
Offer finance facilities
If you offer finance facilities, you could encourage your customer to spread payments for their new home improvement over a few years with a comfortable to manage monthly instalment payment.
Most homeowners are comfortable with the idea of funding improvements to their living spaces by using a finance facility. The best way to use this to your advantage and to the customer's advantage is by making the repayments as affordable as possible by spreading out the repayments over a longer period of time whilst advising them that this will increase the overall cost of their project.
Offer a discount so your customer may be used in testimonials
Everyone can read testimonials about your business online as well as testimonials for your competitors. What could make you different is by showing clients a detailed file of your previous installations together with photographs and testimonials to demonstrate to the person you're meeting that you run a dependable and reputable firm.
Clients are always hesitant buying from companies they've never heard of before so, together with remining them of your CERTASS/FENSA certification, give them every reason to trust you.
1,200 leads per week generated through Leads 2 Trade
Did you know that Leads 2 Trade generate 1,200 leads a week for boiler installers? We generate even more in other home improvement sectors. Our partners have generated over £200m worth of business since 2006 and we have a lead-to-appoint conversion of 78%.
We generate these thousands of leads every week through our informative, user-friendly, jargon-free network of home improvement sites.
Visitors leave their details which, following telephone verification and confirmation, we can either transfer to you live in real time (something called a hotkey telephone transfer), text message, or email. Our team can even diarise local appointments for you.
To speak to one of our account managers to see how our service can fit around and benefit your business, please call us on 0800 021 3211 or fill in our contact form by clicking here.