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5 Tips to Close More Leads

5 Tips to Close More Leads

There is hardly a home improvement contractor that can’t use more leads to grow their business and keep their employees busy.  Leads are the lifeblood of any business.  Knowing how to nurture a lead through the sales funnel is a skill that many contractors lack.  Here are a few tips to help you understand where you can improve your lead conversion rate and your understanding of what went wrong, and what went right.  In no particular order:

1.  Are you fast enough?

People expect instant gratification today.  They carry around their cell phones and are used to getting answers at the touch of button.  Want a pizza?  Just click on the Dominoes app and get a pizza delivered in 20 minutes.  The instantaneous nature of online transactions have conditioned consumers to expect to have their questions answered in less than a minute or they move on.

If you are buying leads from such companies such as Home Advisor, then you know that you need to get back to a lead inquiry right away.  It is usually the first contractor that responds that gets an opportunity to bid.  With four or five contractors receiving a notification (and a charge) for these inquiries, the faster you can return the call to the homeowner the better your chances of having the chance to quote.

2.  Are you trustworthy?

Many small businesses don’t think about branding much, but every business has a brand reputation that develops throughout its lifetime.  A good brand has value to the brand owner and to consumers.  Both Mercedes-Benz and Chevrolet make good cars.  Only one of them, however, can charge a premium for their product over all others.  Why do people pay so much more for a vehicle from Mercedes?  The answer lies in the strength of their brand.  A brand means trust to consumers.  What are you doing in your business to build your brand’s trust factor?  When you offer superior customer service, guarantees, follow up and show a true appreciation for your customer’s business, then you build your business brand.  If you don’t want to compete on price alone, then you need to develop a brand identity that differentiates and elevates your products and services from the competition.  People will always pay more for a brand they trust.

3.   Are you delivering a great customer experience?

From the very first exposure,  a potential customer begins to form an opinion about your company.   Your phone demeanor, your staff, your truck and equipment, the appearance of your website, business card, or advertising piece are all touchpoints that customers use to evaluate your worthiness for their business.  First impressions do matter, even if they are not in person.  If the customer experience is not good, the customer will go elsewhere.  If the customer experience is good at each of these touchpoints, then you have a better chance of closing business because the impression your company has given up to that point is a solid, reputable one.

4.   Are you getting a good return on your investment?

One of the biggest mistakes we see contractors make when it comes to lead generation is not knowing what kind of return they are getting for their dollars spent.  You should be able to calculate what your return on investment is for every dollar that you spend on marketing.  If you pay for a postcard campaign, you know how much the design, printing, and mailing cost you per homeowner.  If you are not keeping track of the amount of closed business you got from that campaign, then you don’t know if it was a profitable undertaking or not.  No matter what form of promotion you do, online or offline, every initiative should be tracked so you know what to do again and which programs you should drop.  Sometimes, businesses are just so happy they are getting a phone call, they don’t bother to ask where the customer found their number.  Something as simple as ‘We are so glad you called us today.  How did you find us?’ usually will get you the information you need.

5.  Do you test?

There are a great many options for contractors to reach potential customers.  Businesses should test any reasonable opportunity that comes their way.  This doesn’t mean blowing an entire marketing budget on a new initiative.  You need to do tests of any promotional activity you are considering before you commit significant dollars.  Online this is much easier to do than offline.  If you are considering newspapers, then a small ad is a good way to test the waters.  If it works, then you can test a different ad to see if the response is greater with the second ad.  If that works well, try a slightly bigger ad and so on.  Marketers should always be testing as you never know where the next really good source of leads will come from and it probably is where no one else is looking.





6 Common Small Business Mistakes

6 Common Small Business Mistakes

Most contracting firms with less than 100 employees are defined as small businesses.  Perhaps your business started out with just one employee, you, and you subcontracted or outsourced tasks you didn’t have time for such as accounting, marketing, and reception.  Most of us have been through that phase where there is too much to do and very little time to do it.  That being said, however, the goal is to build a sustainable business at some point and it will be necessary to start putting into place systems and a plan to fulfill your goals of a viable, growing business.

Here are six common mistakes that small businesses make that we see every day that will directly impact future business goals.

No website.  It is 2014.  Your business must have a website.  People have a phone in their hand and will want to check out your qualifications before they call you.  This is not an option.  There are plenty of online services that you can hire that can get you a simple website for less than $250.

Lack of a plan.  They used to call it “just hang out a shingle and see what happens”.  Launching a new business, any size business, without a plan for success is a recipe for failure.   You need to have an outline of processes and procedures that are going to drive revenue and you need to know how you are going to deliver value to your customers.  You also need to have a strategy that will ensure a profit.  No profit, no business.

Shotgun approach.  Focus on one or two things you do well and forget all the other “shiny objects” that will distract you from your core competencies and most profitable services.  It is okay to test something new, but your brand needs to focus on developing a reputation for excellence in one area first.

No USP. It is surprising how many business owners don’t know what a USP is, and yet it is one of the secrets to business success.  A USP is a unique selling proposition.  What does your company have that others cannot duplicate?  If you don’t want to constantly be competing on price to win bids, then you must deliver something else that your potential customer will value.  Do you have 24/7 service? Do you have a free follow-up service call after 3 months?  Your USP should reflect your core values as a company and that will be easily communicated to potential buyers.

Carelessness.  Money is always tight because there are infinite ways a company can use it.  But there is no excuse for carelessness when it comes to what the customer sees.  Your marketing materials should be free from errors.  Your trucks should be clean and well-maintained. A job site should be left in a tidy state after each day’s work.  These are small things that don’t cost a lot but they do impact your reputation.

Customer appreciation.  Taking the time to thank customers for their business is a small gesture that pays big dividends.  We have one client that hand-writes a thank you note after each job.  The cost is minimal, but the effect is monumental because no one else does it.  People work hard for the money they pay you for your talent and labor.  Let them know that you appreciate their trust in you.