Your phone isn’t likely to ring these days unless you do something to make it ring. And calling your office line from your mobile phone doesn’t count.
Many remodelers say referrals are their lifeblood — and they pride themselves on that fact. Still, it doesn’t hurt to take some action to stimulate those referrals if they’re not currently making your phone ring off the hook.
More than 100 readers responded to our online survey and shared their ideas for making the phone ring. We’ve collected a sampling of those ideas below. In some cases we’ve refined or combined several of the thoughts, but they nevertheless represent the collective thinking of Qualified Remodeler readers from around the country
1. Contact past clients. Remind previous customers of all the services you offer; they may not remember everything you do. Personal phone calls, letters, even a postcard can do the trick. For many, the allure of having your personal attention to their project might make it worth their while to remodel now vs. later, when backlogs may again impact schedules.
2. Advertise locally. The more local, the better. Place new advertising in a local or neighborhood magazine and offer a discount coupon. Many readers also cite the impact of trying different advertising venues, such as shopping carts or benches, in areas where your target customers are likely to see them.
3. Offer financing. There is a common misperception that tighter credit markets have led banks and other home improvement lenders to exit the industry. Not true. There is a range of secured and unsecured financing products available to your customers. A well-advertised offer of low interest rates will certainly get some consumers to pick up the phone.
4. Tout affordable jobs. Not all remodelers are set up for small projects, but the time is certainly right. Offer a low-cost small addition that the average homeowner can afford and will add value to their home. Dormer jobs and finished basement projects are quicker and therefore can be offered in prices ranges that would spur many into action.
5. Optimize your Web site. Remodelers are discovering that their most qualified leads come to them via the Internet. Success involves incorporating keywords that drive your target customers to your site. This process is called search engine optimization or SEO. For more information, see our Exterior Contractor column on pg. 42 of this issue.
6. Keep in touch with your entire network. Use a monthly e-mail newsletter or blog to regularly connect with all current and past customers as well as your prospects. If your company is the first they remember when they’ve got a project, you are going to get the call.
7. Canvass, canvass. Target neighborhoods in the same price point as past customers. The old ways of doing business still work. The key is to be consistent and to incorporate it into the normal course of business — before and after sales calls. The messages can incorporate points of courtesy: “We are working on a job down the block; let us know if there is something we can do to reduce any noise or disruption,” or “We’d be happy to stop by and offer an estimate.” Leave a flier if no one answers the door.
8. Target mailings promoting Web sites and seminars. Do targeted mailings that direct potential customers to your Web site and to seminars and special events that you sponsor. The goal is to move them through your system of evaluating them as qualified leads. Once they have more information about your company, the more likely they will be to call.
9. Show your stuff and establish yourself as a remodeling expert. Participate in a local home show and present a seminar on the remodeling process, design trends or another topic of your choice. This establishes you as an expert and gives you more exposure than a pass-by at your booth.