What companies that sell more get right.
For contractors and other home improvement professionals, days often start early and end late. With only so much time to split between all the things that need to get done, prioritizing is a fact of life, and that usually means putting customers and current jobs first.
Unfortunately, that reality often means things like sales and marketing don’t get as much attention as we’d like. Despite busy schedules, it’s important to invest time in the things that help businesses grow – and to know which things actually get results.
We’ve met thousands of contractors, and we’ve noticed patterns among those who stand out. Read on to learn the half dozen things that these pros do consistently, and how they can fit into your business.
Show, Don’t Tell
Consumers are diligent when researching who to hire for a job, and will spend hours at a time vetting potential contractors online. One of the biggest things they’re looking for when doing their research is photos of your work.
In fact, online content with quality photos gets 94% more views, and 60% of consumers are more likely to choose companies who provide images. As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
The easiest way to not drop the ball is to make taking and posting photos part of your process. The contractors with the best online portfolios take quality photos of every job (both “before” and “after” pictures), and put them someplace future customers can easily find them.
Future Customers Want to Hear from Past Customers
Nearly all customers do their research before making a purchase, and 85% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from people they know. These days, not having reviews available online often disqualifies a business from consideration.
There are many platforms on the market that all contractors are familiar with – Google, Facebook, Angie’s List, and Yelp, to name a few. These companies get consumer eyeballs by the millions, and play a large role in who gets a particular project. Many contractors go as far as to offer incentives – Amazon gift cards, for example – to customers who complete an online review on their behalf.
While these types of strategies help, our research and experience have shown that the surest way to collect a customer review is to simply ask in person. We recommend politely asking while doing the final walkthrough at the end of a project when the customer has just been wowed by your work.
Project Map It customers – who can simply hand customers a tablet or phone to collect a quick review – have noticed a significant uptick in results using the in-person method rather than relying only on email follow up.
Roll the Camera
Consumers are spending an ever-increasing amount of time with video content, preferring it by a wide margin over text, and that shift has changed the way companies need to interact with prospective customers.
Video also puts a friendly face on your company and helps make you personable and relatable. It also gives you an opportunity to speak “directly” to people in your own voice and words.
Search engines like Google are also putting more emphasis on serving up videos in search results, so contractors who are using it well are getting seen more and leaving bigger impressions on online audiences.
Be authentic, whether it’s your advertisements, email campaigns, or the language you use on your website. Know what your strengths are and what value you offer, and communicate those things clearly using a voice that feels true to you and your company.
In this day and age, where companies compete with each other for ever shorter consumer attention spans, the businesses that stand out because they feel genuine and “real” to the customer are usually the ones who resonate the best and win more business.
Be Patient, but Persistent
Data shows that converting a prospect into a lead and then into a customer takes between six and nine touch points, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive a response to your first call or email.
In general, keeping in touch with potential customers tends to pay off in the long run, as long as you don’t overdo it. Some best practices we’ve learned from pros we respect include:
- Follow up with customers by phone and email within 24 hours after you’ve delivered a quote.
- Ask clarifying questions if you don’t hear back – “Has your timeline shifted?” or “Are there parts of the project you’re unsure about?”
- If you have a slow season, or when you have more capacity than usual in your pipeline, text or email “stale” quotes – you never know when they’ll be ready to get started.
- Vary your method of communication – some customers prefer an email they can get to on their own time; some prefer the quick, on-the-go nature of a text message; and still others like the personal touch a phone call offers. Note the customer’s preference in your CRM.
It may sound obvious on its face, but you won’t be successful with any of your sales and marketing efforts if you don’t commit time and resources to them. Too often, these efforts aren’t part of contractors’ regular habits, and so the results are often inconsistent and scattershot.
It is worth the up front time investment to create systems for your marketing process, whether it’s setting up automated prospect emails, creating a quality website, or integrating a CRM into your workflow. Even if it’s something as simple as setting a time each week to focus a couple hours on whatever marketing activities are most important to you that week, it’ll make a huge difference on sales outcomes.
Knowing that home improvement pros time is limited, we’ve included the most impactful marketing tools for contractors into Project Map It.