Mark Richardson, CR, is an author, columnist, and business growth strategist. He authored the best-selling book, How Fit Is Your Business? as well as his latest book, Fit to Grow. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301.275.0208.
While many remodelers are hearing the phone ring again, not all have seen the financial results from closing deals or new projects that are under construction. The phone ringing is obviously a product of a strong uptick in home sales, new construction activity, and increase in home appreciation, all of which are a result of heightened consumer confidence.
In most cases, the phone ringing is not a result of your brilliant marketing strategy. It is primarily a product of the environment.
Will it be sustainable? Based on my trusted indicators, the most likely answer is “yes.” However, leads are not sales. Leads can be an opportunity or it can be an added distraction to your business. Many remodeling business owners believe more leads equal more sales. They are wrong. More leads equal more leads; more leads equal more appointments; more leads equal more estimates and proposals; and more leads can result in more “no’s” from a potential client.
There are many analogies or metaphors you can use to better understand the remodeling business. As a writer I try to use these metaphors to communicate what I see in the industry to the readers of Professional Remodeler.
One metaphor that is relevant to the current remodeling environment is aviation. For example, think of a prospective client like an airplane. Three years ago, they were grounded at their hub. There was simply not enough fuel or passengers to justify a flight.
Over the past year, the planes have taken off to many destinations. They have enough fuel to be support a long trip. They have the passengers—who provide the cash—to make the trip happen. However, some of the planes that are in flight have been rerouted due to weather or are in holding pattern around the airport due to air traffic control. The flights are in the air but may be delayed or in some cases sent to land at an alternate airport.
This metaphor is analogous to the remodeling environment. We are seeing the leads coming in but sales are lagging. We have more meetings with prospective clients. Making the selections and decisions is tougher due to the proliferation of choices and the fear of the prospect making a mistake. The decisions are compounded because everyone is time-starved. While the remodeling pain and needs exist, the time available to properly think through decisions is tough.
Today, the better remodeling firms need to make “landing the planes” a top priority. This issue should be addressed from multiple directions—the culture, sales skills, sales processes, and careful monitoring. If you rely on just the natural flow of the plane taking off, avoiding the weather, and finally landing, you will probably be disappointed with the results. The following are a few elements to include in your “landing the plane” strategies.
First, focus on the prospects with a real sense of urgency. This may be counterintuitive to many remodelers. Remodelers tend to be whale chasers—going after the big projects. Whales are big but do not necessarily have a sense of urgency. If you have a prospect that has a real sense of urgency because of an upcoming wedding, mother moving in, leaky roof, major vacation to be away from the house, or financial reasons, then the prospect will help you land the plane effectively and quickly before it runs out of fuel or gets diverted.
Sales skills Landing planes in inclement weather require skills that differ from sunny conditions. Pilots spend more time training when the conditions may be tough. Sales skills need to be sharpened. Sales training should be increased. This can be accomplished internally or externally. A salesperson today should be investing three-to-four hours a week into their sales improvement to acquire the skills to get better results and not waste time.
Revisit your sale process Most sales processes are a product of evolution—this is how we did it in the past. Just like a control tower with many planes in a holding pattern over an airport, the air traffic controller needs to revisit the procedure and processes to get the planes home. Your sales process needs to take into account today’s homeowner. It needs to focus on multiple ways the client buys remodeling. It also needs to integrate an easier and less overwhelming decision or selection process. You may not want to abandon your present process but you need to at least add embellishments to help you land the planes.
Whether or not you can relate to the aviation metaphor in your world, what should be focused on is the importance of sales. Nothing gets done without sales. Your prospects never experience the joy of the new kitchen unless it is sold to them. If you can make sales skills and sales strategies a priority today, you can only have a positive outcome. PR