How To Self Generate Qualified Home Improvement Leads

Home improvement business ventures have a very high rate of failure! Why? Contractors lack marketing knowledge to attract qualified leads, and sales systems to gain the business. No leads… no sales… no business… doors close.

In this article you will learn what is working today, and also lead generation methods via digital marketing strategies. Many leading edge companies are seeing their percentage of leads from web marketing strategies and tactics becoming the major source of their home improvement leads and revenues. There are even lead generation companies farming leads solely from internet marketing and selling them to home improvement companies and general contractors! The good news is you can learn what it takes to generate leads using internet marketing strategies for yourself!

Listed are the most productive lead sources/options for generating quality home improvement leads. Companies who acquire the best “lead mix” for their business, balance these sources and focus on budgeting for best return on investment. Keep in mind that all lead sources should lead to a call center and customer relationship management (CRM) software. If you do not have CRM software, a free source is RenexPro.

Top Home Improvement Lead Sources

Canvassing: Canvassing for leads has seen a tremendous resurgence in the last two years (since 2009). Years ago this was the predominate method going door to door and offering a free estimate, inspection or gift for an appointment. Canvassing can be done with sales personnel or special teams trained to just get the lead.

The canvassing team is usually comprised of a Team Leader, Canvassers and a Van to take them to the territory.

  • Team Leader: Full time employee. Recruits,trains, and supervises his/her canvassers (trains by example, maintains goals, base salary plus incentives.
  • The Canvasser: 19 or older high school graduate – college students are great, clean cut dress code, part time (1,000 hour rule), hourly plus incentives.
  • The Training: Must have a scripted, short presentation. Training and practicing the script is imperative. Canvassers are not selling anything but the appointment. The “hook” for an appointment is a free service and/or gift.

Canvassing for home improvement leads is a great way to get quality leads when the program is done right. Some companies today are exclusively using this method.

Direct Mail: Direct mail is what most home improvement companies use today for the main percentage of their lead generation. Although still a great way too generate leads, it is getting more costly per lead. As long as your service has the margins, direct mail with letters, brochures and post cards should be considered. Caution: Use expert services that have a proven track record for your industry. Don’t skimp and try using a company with no track record. One failed mailing could be devastating to your budget. If you bring it in house, make sure you have experts on the job that test and measure before sending out a mass mailing.

TV & Radio: If you have the budget, these leads are expensive but high quality if the campaigns are branded with a great call to action. TV is hard to measure; however, what branding recognition you gain! The best tip here is to humanize your commercials. Let the viewer know who you are and what the benefits are when doing business with your company.

Radio is the same way. Humanize your ads. The last company where I had an inside view of lead source statistics showed an ever growing benefit to radio ads when the CEO began conducting the ads and bringing his charm to each campaign. Today, I hear him every time I go for drive so I know they are still getting tremendous results.

Shows, Events, Mall Kiosks: Your presence in the community is vital to your business. Use every opportunity you can to make physical contact for lead generation. Have professional marketing materials and eye catching displays. Some companies get so many leads from these venues that they focus most of their efforts there. They know that just like canvassing for leads, you must follow and personalize a script. Train your people to be up-beat, friendly, informative, and persistent in closing the appointment… not a sale!

Telemarketing: Cold calling for leads is not very productive; however, responding to inquiries from printed material, incoming calls or email is a must in your business. If you do not have the budget for a call center, its not very expensive to outsource this task. Once again, close for the appointment… not a sale. And, do not ball park pricing. This is a disservice to the prospect and your company. There are too many variables with products and installation. Professional eyeballs need to be on site!

Digital Marketing Syndication: Digital marketing syndication for home improvement lead generation is becoming a major source and factor in lead capture. Today, more and more companies are developing digital marketing strategies to boost profits by driving highly interested and qualified traffic to their websites. AND, we are seeing companies that gain almost all their leads from their internet strategies and tactics.

Almost all sources for leads find their way to your web presence. Think about this, when a homeowner wants to remodel any part of their home, how do they get the information to contact a contractor? Today, more an more prospects search the internet… OR… they respond to an ad from all the other sources I have mentioned in is article, and check up on that company by going to their website! Have you experienced prospects wanting more than one estimate? 90% of the time the prospect wants to get other proposals or estimates so they do an internet search for competitors. Who do they find and pick… the best websites that are on the first page!

What if you dominate the internet space in your area? What if you have a website that is so appealing to the viewer, and it has a Call To Action on every page? What if you have campaigns, articles, videos, announcements, informational sites, press releases, Pay Per Click ads, banners, links from manufacturers and other service/product companies pointing to your interactive website? Your overwhelming presence on the internet will get more leads than you can handle! You will grow your business!

Referrals… Another article on this. Get good at this. Training required!

All home improvement lead sources discussed in this article are important for your business. Find what works best for you, and make sure that your business has a dominating web presence that is syndicated for maximum quality lead conversion!

Referral Marketing For Home Improvement Contractors

In these tough economic times, it is imperative that home improvement contractors implement a fully-functioning referral marketing strategy. If they don’t, they are potentially losing thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars in sales and profits.

If designed and executed properly, this referral marketing system will help home improvement contractors:

o Attract a steady flow of ready and willing customers for your most profitable services;

o Give your business an “UNFAIR ADVANTAGE” by locking-out your competition from the best customers and the most profitable markets;

o Build your image as THE authoritative home improvement expert in your area and command top-dollar for your services;

o Enjoy the freedom to raise your prices year after year, while your competition has to discount to survive;

o Generate a torrent of profitable referrals from existing and past customers through referral marketing;

o Dramatically increase the VALUE and salability of your business;

o Have your customers enthusiastically giving you permission to contact them for future business;

o Have a 24 hour a day/7 day a week profit-producing referral marketing system that creates leads while you are sleeping, fishing, golfing, relaxing, and spending time with your family;

o Dramatically reduce your workload so you’ll have plenty of time for yourself.

But with the demands on home improvement contractors to service their current clients while still hustling to find new ones, the referral marketing program that they institute has to be all-encompassing and not place more work in their already busy schedule. The last thing they need is a referral marketing program that includes a bunch of useless books and manuals they have to read, software they have to install, or huge home study courses that take months to complete.

There’s no doubt that the successful home improvement business is the one that has the most effective systems for attracting, retaining and multiplying happy customers. Most home improvement companies are so obsessed with getting new customers that they completely ignore the gold mine of opportunities with their former and existing customers and never consider any type of referral marketing program. All this does is make the home improvement contractor rat race worse for those who participate… especially when the economy slows.

But, home improvement companies that know how to develop long-term relationships with their customers, have an active database of happy customers that they communicate with on a regular basis, and that can rely on their customers to feed their business (and their families and employees), day in and day out – year after year – even when the economy takes a dump…those are the home improvement companies that are going to be successful through referral marketing.

Many home improvement contractors throw away thousands of dollars on ineffective advertising because they’re chasing that elusive new client. The truth is, their current client base – if used properly through referral marketing – can provide the instant sales and profit that they need. The value of a satisfied client is immeasurable when a properly designed and implemented referral marketing system is put in place.

How to Start a Profitable Home Improvement Referral Service

Home improvement referral services are cropping up from New York to California. They are taking the time to do the legwork to find reputable and reliable contractors and these businesses are reaping profits from good work.

It really doesn’t take much to start. A home improvement referral service business takes only a little money and not more time than a regular 40 hour a week job. They can actually start making money within the first year of business.

The first thing to consider is what types of home improvement businesses your will refer. This can include gutter cleaning and replacement, remodeling, building additions, fencing, lawn maintenance, and many others. Remember, all though you may like to paint a client may not like it or have the time. Therefore, no business should be overlooked.

Once you have an idea of the types of contractors for your referral service business, you will need to call the local, county, and state government offices. Get the regulations and requirements regarding licensing, bonding, business registry, and insurance for each type of contractor. This is the first step to building your list. Any contractor that does not meet government regulations should not be on your referral list.

By knowing these requirements and using them, your home improvement referral business will gain credibility with your clients. They will know that if the contractor doesn’t meet these requirements, they will not be on your list. It makes the client feel more sure the job will be completed professionally and correctly.

Another way to ensure creditability of your referral service business is to only look at contractors that are recommended by their past happy customers. But this is not the end of the screening process. Recommendations are not enough.

Once a contractor is recommended to your home improvement referral business, you need to check out his or her service. Talk to them, explaining your referral service business. Many contractors will give you the needed information happily. Ask to see their licenses, bonding information, and insurance to ensure they are current and up to date. Ask for a list of services they provide and the cost for these services. Finally ask for references you may speak to.

Now you have gotten your contractor referral list started. While working on creating this list, you should have started thinking about a name for your referral service business, advertising, office area, office equipment, and ordered a phone line for the business. You may want to use a computer right away, but an index card or file system could work just as well and for a fraction of the cost, until your company grows. Keep in mind that as your company grows, the office space, office equipment, and referral list system will probably need to become computerized to save time and money.

Since your referral business is going to begin locally, check with local newspapers and periodicals to see if they would be interested in doing an article about your business. Make some flyers and ask local hardware stores if you could leave some there to advertise your service. You may also want to send letters to realtors announcing your business, they can be great advertisers for you.

Make your services free to the people calling into your business looking for referrals. Many home improvement referral businesses charge the contractor anywhere from 6% to 15% depending on the size of the project. You put the customers in touch with the contractor, and upon completion of the project, the contractor pays you a fee.

Advertise that no contractors pay you to get onto your referral list. If clients or contractors ask how they get on the list, explain to them the only way for a contractor to get on the list is for a customer to recommend them. You may want to explain the whole screening process to let the person know the exact qualifications the contractors need to have before being accepted.

A referral service business can expand easily and rapidly. Once your business starts to grow, create a business plan to set goals. Decide how much you want to expand and consider starting franchises in other locations or expanding the list to include contractors that were not included originally. This is your home improvement referral service business and you can take it wherever you want.

Mom and Pop Home Improvement Verses Big Box Stores

Ever since the first English settlements in Jamestown in 1607, entrepreneurs were using their home improvement skills to help build a better life. These specialized skills will always be needed, no matter how they are utilized and/or distributed. From plumbing to window installation, these trade services are practiced within all areas of civilized life.

Up until the end of the late 19th century, most home improvement services were worked by individuals or smaller mom and pop type businesses. Not until stores like Lowe’s started popping up in the early 20th century did we start seeing larger entities become highly competitive against the smaller mom and pop type home improvement businesses. The fact of the matter is, these large businesses could provide services for cheaper, but not necessarily better.

So, why do big box chains like Home Depot and Lowe’s provide home improvement services? Why don’t they just sell improvement goods? Isn’t the whole idea behind these large hardware stores to provide goods to do-it-yourselfers? Well, the problem is… more and more consumer do-it-yourselfers are buying their goods online. It saves time and allows the consumer to be more flexible when it comes to getting their job done. These big hardware stores are trying to send a message to these consumers. They want these people to not only buy their products, but also allow them to install it for them at minimal costs. By doing this, it could draw in consumers that need a job done, but can’t necessarily afford a mom and pop business. Not realizing, that these stores often do a poor job, because they use, in most cases, inexperienced staff.

The fact of the matter is… mom and pop home improvement businesses are usually family owned and operated. They pass down their many years of experience in their trade to their workers. They often use the best quality products and provide top notch warranties. We’re not saying that the big box stores can’t provide quality, we’re just saying that your chances are better with smaller service providers.

As these larger, big box home improvement companies grow… will they expand and improve their services or will they return to their roots and only sell goods? Chances are, these big businesses will look to improve quality of service and offer a broader range of these services. The three largest stores, Home Depot, Lowe’s Companies, and Lumber Liquidators are not going away any time soon. Small mom and pops know that. They also know that they do it better and a majority of the public knows it.

So, before you choose who is going to install your replacement windows, replace your kitchen counter or repair that leaking pipe, do your research. Compare experience, quality of products used, warranties and most important of all… customer service. Who are you going to want inside your home? Someone who has been doing the job their whole life or someone from a big box store with no credentials. The choice is yours and most likely a choice you will have to live with for years to come.