Many remodelers say that the best strategy for tackling today’s challenges is to ramp up communication. But not all communication methods are created equal.
However, there is one that’s become dominant in recent years: text messaging. But despite text messaging’s long-standing popularity, many businesses remain reluctant to incorporate it, especially through a systemized platform.
Communication software company Podium surveyed 1,000 marketing professionals and just 50% said they communicate with leads or prospects via text messaging. The report found email and phone calls reign supreme, yet 90% of customers prefer to communicate with a business through texts, according to Podium.
The difference with texting? It flips the approach: Homeowners will call a contractor when they’re ready rather than a contractor chasing down a client.
“[Texting] empowers the homeowner to passively engage in one click, straight to the contractor’s website,” explains Jeff Barnes, VP of Modernize Home Services. “If I just got a text, I know who that’s from, versus when I was called, it was a number I didn’t recognize.”
Many contractors may casually text clients through their personal devices, but there are several platforms on the market today meant to integrate into a company’s existing software or offer new software, and provide greater control over communications. These services, such as Hatch, Marlimar, Connect by Modernize Home Services, Chiirp, Podium, also offer additional services to further guide businesses.
Beth Jacob, VP of Jacob Family Enterprises, says she opted to integrate a text messaging platform into her home improvement businesses because fewer and fewer homeowners were answering phone calls. Now, she sees texting as breaking the ice for a follow-up phone call—or correspondence can continue via text too.
Below are some expert tips for remodeling pros to keep in mind before texting homeowners through a service.
An example texting service dashboard. | Courtesy Connect by Modernize Home Services
Considerations for Incorporating a Texting Service into Your Business
1. Saves time.
When remodelers use texting as a main form of communication and systemize it, it can become entirely automated. This increases productivity and efficiency without the need to hire more employees.
Jacob says her experience incorporating a text messaging platform has saved both employees and clients time, most notably in call centers. For homeowners, all information is readily available via texts while her employees can easily visualize text correspondences on their dashboards.
2. Is your business the right size?
Mark Highbaugh of Marlimar says small, family-owned home improvement companies would likely benefit less from a texting service, but any company with at least one employee can see benefits. The reason comes from automation: Smaller businesses will benefit less from automation than larger businesses.
Still, a form of texting can help any business, adds Barnes.
3. Treat conversations like phone calls.
Though a homeowner can reply to a text whenever they choose, they expect a quick response back and treat it similar to a phone call, according to Highbaugh.
The most important part of sending a text message as a business is not the communication sent, but the response from the homeowner.
4. Does not require the use of personal phones.
Unless you are okay with giving employees little work-life balance, it is suggested not to ask employees to send text messages through their personal devices. “If a company is asking their employees to communicate by text, to their personal phone, what they're basically saying is, ‘I want you to work for me, 24/7, I want you to be on call at all times,’” says Highbaugh. “‘And there's nothing more important than my business.’”
5. CRM integration.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems today often focus most on email communication, as it remains the industry’s predominant method of communication. Many text services can be integrated into a CRM for automated texting.
At Jacob’s company, the CRM integration allows for multiple dashboards for different departments: inbound marketing, outbound marketing, production, accounting, and sales. Without a CRM integration, Jacob found that texts could not be automated and there were no easy ways to make notes on specific clients, creating more time than necessary.
6. Do your homework.
Before Jacob settled on her current text platform, she used another that didn’t offer the same CRM integrations. Her advice? “Do your homework. Ask for a trial run, ask to play with the system before you sign on,” says Jacob. “Any reputable company will let you do that. And then ask about references, ask who else in the industry is using it and call them.”