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Tom Poulin's sales consultants take financing applications during sales calls. He''s found that for Poulin Design Remodeling in Albuquerque, N.M., the service is a great closing technique. So it was only natural that Poulin take the concept to its website, www.remodelingmadeeasy.com.
Trouble is, after six months online, the financing option has garnered few responses. "We did some initial advertising," Poulin says. "We're getting hits but not responses in terms of online financing or our contact form."
The problem, Poulin says, may be that potential clients are seeing the link to the company's financing partner, Conseco, (www.conseco.com/) is a step they''re not yet willing to take. As with most design/build firms, Poulin goes to great lengths to build relationships with its clients, and that hasn''t happened with most web surfers.
"It's a link to Conseco's online application," Poulin says. "They pre-approve the customer and send us notice that they're pre-approved. We may not even have an appointment set up yet. I don't see it working right now. There may not be a relationship built up with Poulin yet."
Notwithstanding the financing performance, Poulin continues to evaluate its online presence. Although lead generation and pre-approval for financing are goals of the site, Poulin says the other main reason for the site is "to provide a place the consumer can learn about us before meeting us."
"It's valuable for that," he says. "My lead manager will be setting an appointment, and if they're not ready, they'll say visit us at www.remodelingmadeeasy.com to learn more about Poulin. I would guess it's easier to set the appointment then.
"I think we're going to generate some good business from the leads we set off the website. A client the other day said he saw [our site], and he had a huge kitchen project. He came in rather than fill out the forms [online].
Poulin continues to strengthen his financing niche off line. In addition to the financing products Conseco offers, Poulin has begun offering a deferred payment plan on jobs less than $6,500. "It's no payments, no interest for six months,"
Poulin says. "There's no money down, either. If you go to Best Buy, you can do no payments, no interest. The consumer's conditioned to that. On our bathroom remodels and ReBath jobs, we've taken a similar product and utilized it in this market. [Clients] are attracted to it. It's a closing tool."
American General offers this financing product, Poulin says, but it will pay the remodeler only upon completion of the project. As soon as Poulin takes a completion certificate to the funding office it is paid the full price of the job. "That's why we keep it $6,500 and under," he says. "[These projects] are generally finished in a week. We have to carry the cost of the material, because it's stocked before the job starts. That really doesn't cost us, because we have 30-day billing with the distributor, so it''s floated. There's no interest."
Rod Sutton is the Editor-in-Chief for Professional Remodler. Please email him with any comments or questions regarding his column.