Written By Ari Greenbaum, co-founder of conXpros
As a home improvement pro, you are likely seeking the best lead source to supplement your business. If you don’t know what to look for, or how to use them effectively, you often waste both time and a lot of your hard-earned money. Providing you make an educated decision, you can utilize lead services without all the headaches and frustrations often associated with them. There are many factors that go into choosing the right lead source for your company. Here are some useful some tips when considering and finding the right lead generation company for you.
- Understand the process: Most lead services are based off the same model. There are slight differences in billing, lead delivery, options and your customer experience. Homeowners search for a contractor, arrives at a landing page, and then completes a form with their requests. Most lead companies sell the lead to three to five contractors, who then compete for that project. Other services provide exclusive leads that only go to one contractor. However, just like any other homeowner, these customers typically get other bids as well. Understanding the process and how to respond (quickly & often) will be a primary factor contributing to success with your lead campaigns.
- Research your options and find the right fit: Some services aren’t upfront about the “fine print” or “terms and conditions”, which could be a factor in how this will benefit your company. Ask about contracts, setup and annual fees, cancellation processes, minimums on how much you are forced to spend, limits on pausing your account. At the end of the day, lead companies are businesses. Just like your company, these policies are created to make sure that the lead company is profitable. The biggest question to answer is if it is a system that will support success and profitability? Know who you will be working with and spending your money with before signing with any new lead service.
- Set yourself up for success: There are no magic pills. With any lead service, you must prepare to adequately manage both your lead service but dealing with the leads properly. It would be wise to have a dedicated person responding to the requests in real time. This same person should be accountable to the processes used to reach leads that do not immediately answer. Additionally, they should be responsible for managing appropriate credit requests, lead flow, and other account management related things. This helps to ensure that your leads aren’t all being won by your competition. The old adage “the early bird gets the worm”, certainly applies to leads and your success. Respond quickly, respond often!!!
- Get paid what you are worth: Customers never want to pay more than they should, but they also want quality. If you find yourself in a “bidding war”, take time to educate your customers on why your prices are appropriate for the value they will receive. Spend the extra time to help the customer understand. This will equate to more money in your pocket. People that utilize online services are no different than any other buyer, so don’t treat them any differently than your regular customers.
- Add some sizzle: Just like you as a contractor looking for a lead source do research, homeowners rely on the information they can find online to influence their decisions. While reviews don’t mean everything, they absolutely provide the social proof often needed to ultimately decide who to work with. If you don’t have a website or any sort of paid marketing campaign, use social media. It’s free and we know how everyone loves social media. Be aggressive in asking for reviews. Try to direct the customers to a small selection of sites where you will build a reputation of exceptional work. Reviews can tip the scales in your favor when competing for a homeowner’s business.
- Walk before you run: Just like anything in life, jumping in to the deep end can be dangerous. No matter how much research or due diligence you may have done, the best proof is actual experience. When first starting with a service, be conscientious about how much you are spending until you have had enough time to decide if it is worth dedicating more of your money to. Look at your conversion rate and profitability. As a suggestion, you should make sure that your sample size has enough data to formulate any true opinions. So, take on enough leads initially to give it an honest try. You should know your metrics and have a realistic expectation of what return you get on your investment. Having grounded and realistic expectations are critical. No one closes a 100% of bids they give, let alone every lead they purchase from any source.
- YOU WILL GET BAD LEADS: There is not a service in the world that will only provide you good leads, it just doesn’t exist. Keeping this fact in mind, it is important to understand how a lead generation company handles the “bad leads”. Every company has a lead credit policy (often publicly available). Although most of them are similar, there are important differences when comparing credit policies. Complete knowledge of what will they credit back for and what they won’t will save you a lot of money and frustration. Differences include but are not limited to credit caps, money vs. “store credits”, specific credit reasons, time for reporting, and the reporting process itself. Remember, not all lead credit policies are created equally. When you know you will get bad leads, it is a good idea to know what you will be responsible to pay for.
- See the BIG picture: Regardless of the immediate outcome from a lead, they are filling your database with valuable resources and future customers. Some leads will convert now, some in the future and some will even lead to referrals. Even leads that equate to smaller jobs are prime opportunities to gain another ambassador for your brand of customer care and excellent service. At the end of the day, if it’s making a profit, large or small, you are growing your current and future business. Stay in touch with the leads (including ones you don’t win) and nurture them to become customers for the future.
In summary, lead generation companies are an excellent way to receive a quick return on investment. There is no ramp up time like a lot of other marketing campaigns, rather from the first lead there is an opportunity to make money. As detailed above, you must choose one that best suits your business model and you feel confident will meet your needs. There are no perfect companies out there, but properly using lead generation provides the perfect opportunity to grow your existing business and reach new heights. Happy hunting!