Written By Ari Greenbaum, co-founder of conXpros
You can be a beast with your efforts to contact your leads. However, if all you are doing is having conversations and not converting the conversations into appointments and jobs, are you really winning? Winning with home improvement lead generation is defined by the return on investment (ROI), period. Just like with any form of advertising, a business owner in the home improvement & home services verticals should expect to receive a return on their investment. We do not get paid for how fast and diligently we go after our contractor leads (at least not directly). We get paid when we secure the job and do the work for the homeowner. We have already focused our attention on the first two parts of the equation, calling quickly and remaining persistent to contact your leads. The next step in the formula for success with home improvement lead generation is what we do when we speak to the homeowner. This article will focus on the two different types of interactions based on the nature of your business: 1. setting an appointment to provide an estimate & 2. securing the job on the first call.
Setting an appointment to provide an estimate
This is the difference between “service” oriented companies and “project” related companies. If you are a roofer, painter, flooring pro, remodeler, etc., there is practically a zero percent chance you will be hired by a homeowner on your initial call. Typically, the homeowner will meet with the home improvement companies they are considering to discuss their project and receive an estimate before deciding who they will move forward with. The goal of any contractor in these categories/trades, should be to set as many appointments as possible. You can not expect to win every job you bid on, so keeping the funnel full with potential clients is essential. It is important to understand that not every person inquiring about your services through online lead generators will in fact be a good fit for your company. You must select the homeowners that you will dedicate the time and energy to BEFORE blindly making appointments. Having a full funnel is nice, but if it is filled with garbage, you will get garbage out at the end of the funnel. Here is the process that has proven to be successful for myself as well as many of our clients:
- Be enthusiastic-Who do you think the homeowner is more likely to invite to their home and spend time with, the contractor sounding like they are calling because they “have to” or the once calling because they are excited and eager to help? Make sure that you are in the proper mindset BEFORE you make the call to the homeowner. Bring some joy and positivity into their lives. Starting a call with the proper energies will lend itself to more receptive people on the other end of the line.
- Qualify (carefully)-You know the type of customer that is a prospect for your services better than anyone. With home improvement leads, it is near impossible to determine client types from the lead itself. Treat everyone equally but focus your questions to help determine if this is the right client for your business and your time. Ask general questions about the nature of the project, timeframes, expectations, who is involved in the decision making, etc. It is important not to interrogate, so develop a conversational way to gather the info you need. I don’t like turning away opportunities, but if the homeowner is under pressure to complete a job by a deadline and you know your schedule will not allow for this to happen, is this a good prospect for you? If they share that they will need a company that offers financing options and you do not offer it (if you don’t, I highly recommend looking into options as there are tons out there that will help open you to more opportunities), is this a prospect worth taking the time to meet with? These are some ideas of the type of info you should work hard to determine in advance of setting an appointment and spending valuable time meeting with the client.
- Confirming all parties-This is a huge factor! In the qualification stage, it is important to determine who will be involved or have input to the project and ultimately making the decision. Work to find a time that ALL PARTIES will be available for the meeting. If it means being flexible in your scheduling, do it! Rarely will a homeowner agree to hire a contractor without the other decision maker’s involvement. You can get out there and give the best presentation and offer the perfect price for their budget, but rarely will the deal get closed without the right people present for your appointment. You will have times that the homeowner tells you all parties will be there, yet when you arrive, they are flying solo. Control the things you can and make the most of the things you cannot. Do the work on the front end to set yourself up for success.
- Never be 1st–If you are a NASCAR driver, you always want to be first. The opposite is true with homeowners looking to hire for a project. When possible be last, or at worst case not first. Most homeowners have the mindset that they “need” a predetermined number of estimates to make the best decisions for themselves. You are significantly less likely to close the deal when you are the first in the door. The homeowner will be hard pressed to “forget” about the other companies and just say yes to you without first meeting with others. I recommend asking questions such as “what day and times have you set aside to meet with companies for estimates?” When they offer the open dates/times, lock down the latest time possible based on their options. By doing this, you are practically guaranteeing you will not be the first (or even second) in the door. This is imperative! It is far easier to get a commitment form the homeowner AFTER they have met with others & received bids. You can help compare yourself to something tangible and build value based on what others did or did not do or offer. I had one client share with me his approach to this and how far he takes it; he calls the homeowner a few hours before the appointment time to confirm, but more importantly inquires how the other meeting have gone. If they suggest they have not yet met with others, he tries to reschedule. This is extreme, but it has proven highly successful for him.
Securing the job on the first call
Many of our clients are in the “service” side of the home improvement vertical. Service plumbers, electricians, heating & cooling, pest control, etc. do not typically require meeting with a client with the purpose of providing an estimate. Rather, these business types are focused on locking down the job or at least getting out for a diagnostic (typically has a trip charge), when first contact is established with the homeowner. The keys to success with this type of contractor lead:
- Be enthusiastic-Just like described above, the homeowner will be more drawn to an enthusiastic and positive caller than the opposite. Often, companies that are service oriented have a dispatcher or dedicated caller that is not the business owner. In cases like this, the employee does not have “skin in the game”, so it is the responsibility of the business owner to educate and train them to approach every call with the image you want representing your company and more likely to secure jobs.
- Diagnose-Homeowners will not always know what is wrong, but you must make the best efforts to diagnose the issue with conversational questions. This will allow you to better assess how you can help and determine if you can help. There is little chance of getting the green light to come out and perform the work if the homeowner does not first feel that you understand their needs and issue.
- Confidence is key-Confidence is at the root of any successful sales call. Exude and convey confidence that you are the best company to meet their needs. Assume they want to hire you and confidently move towards setting up the appointment to do the work. You can use alternate-choice questions to set the appointment, such as “I can have one of our guys at your house at either 11:30 or 1:45 today, which works best for your schedule?”. Worst case, they say no, but more often than not, you will be greeted with a confirmed appointment and secured job.
- Be upfront-Be upfront with the homeowner of any charges for your tech to come to their house and how billing will be done if work is performed. The last thing you want is to send your tech or get out there yourself only to be met with resistance. Avoid the resistance with transparency.
- Confirm everything-Make the extra effort to confirm the address, time, assumed issue, and any other detail for this job. This confirmation is key to lock down the appointment and reduce any potential for misunderstandings. I highly recommend using a CRM or manually sending an email with the confirmation details and if possible, letting the homeowner know specifically who will be coming to their home.
Becoming a beast at setting appointments and securing jobs is not easy. But just like most aspects of life, if you put the work into knowing, practicing, and applying your process, you will continually improve your results. Follow these steps to increase your opportunities and win more jobs.
This article is part of an ongoing series focused on the formula for success with home improvement lead generation companies. Please check out the previous posts in this series: