Fifteen years ago pundits were telling us that technology would revolutionize the remodeling industry. Today, it’s no longer a prediction, it’s reality.
The internet has revolutionized the remodeling experience by creating an unprecedented level of transparency. Today, homeowners can know as much—or more—about products as you do. Not only can they investigate prices and installation costs, they can also find out what people are saying about you and your company.
The big influencers in the remodeling industry used to be the leading remodelers and major product manufacturers and distributors. They delivered their messages through marketing or media outlets such as HGTV and shelter magazines. Today, and in the foreseeable future, the influencers are Google, Houzz, Amazon, and online referral sites. In fact, a recent study presented at Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies noted that homeowners place as much or more value on reviews from strangers as they do on word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family.
I recently experienced this first-hand. As my wife and I were leaving a movie, we talked about going somewhere for dinner. I told her that a certain restaurant had been recommended to me by a couple of friends, and she agreed to head in that direction. But she also immediately used her phone to find a review site, and the reviews of the restaurant were OK but not great. The upshot: We didn’t eat there.
Today, your website needs to be active and regularly updated, and social media needs to play an integral role in your business communication and marketing strategy. Training your team to communicate using the latest technology tools is critical for both a positive experience and to reduce risk.
In addition to the technologies affecting the customer’s research and buying process, several other technological trends are growing:
Satellites. Exterior home improvement companies are beginning to use remote images to measure, design, present, and sell projects without ever visiting the house.
Virtual reality. Today, clients can experience your designs in a 3-D “walk through” before they make the decision to buy from you.
The cloud. Cloud-based apps allow all parties to a project to work together and stay updated in real time. They also facilitate everything from digital signatures on contracts and change orders to job progress photo documentation to digital payment.
As many of you know, I’ve always said that “people buy from people” and I’ve advocated for “high-touch” marketing and sales processes. Today, however, I believe the pendulum is quickly swinging the other way, increasingly giving high tech the upper hand. I certainly hope we don’t abandon high-touch altogether, but it’s clear to me that embracing the new high-tech world should be a top priority.
Many years ago my friend and former chief marketing officer Joaquin Erazo emphasized the importance of being “in the wave,” not behind it, where you can’t ride its energy, and not ahead of it either, where it will wipe you out. The trick is to be in the right place at the right time.
If you don’t want to fall short and become irrelevant, make sure you are in the wave on current technology.