Whether through lead generation services, direct mail, online efforts, home shows or word of mouth, remodelers need leads to get business. In an online survey conducted by Qualified Remodeler, nearly 43 percent of remodelers indicated their most effective lead generation source is word of mouth and referrals. At 17 percent and 16 percent respectively, websites and home shows/events were the next most effective sources. No matter the strategy, each has its benefits and drawbacks and, at the end of the day, can generate work.
While pursuing his MBA in marketing, Dan Salupo, director of business development and co-owner with Broadview Heights, Ohio-based JM Design Build, learned a lot about leveraging the Web for marketing purposes. “That knowledge has positioned us very well. Everything is on the Web now and it has been for a while,” he asserts. “I think people recognize it. The Web is very powerful but it can also be tricky to learn the ins and outs of it all.”
Salupo has elected to invest in what he refers to as marketing assets, such as search engine optimization for his website, email lists and building a fan base on social media sites such as Facebook. “Those are all assets because they remain,” he says. “I’d rather invest the dollars in constructing a foundation we can build on rather than just throwing money at [lead generation services] and hoping to grab something.”
Online measuring varies depending on what online platform a contractor is working on. “With the website, you want to measure the success by daily visits,” Salupo explains. “We have a particular number I like to see coming in every day. Obviously, I like that to grow over time. Beyond that, you want to make sure people are typing in things you want to show up for. For example, if people are landing on our page after searching for ‘kitchen remodeling Cleveland,’ that’s a huge success. With the large amount of money people are looking to spend on remodels, they’re going to research it for a long time. Just because the hit might not convert that day doesn’t mean they won’t reach out in the next month or so. If we’re getting a lot of hits and have a low bounce rate, that’s a huge success.”
Facebook is harder to measure than a website and also doesn’t necessarily provide hard leads. That doesn’t make it invaluable, though. “Engagement is the big thing with Facebook,” Salupo says. “You want to have a dialogue with your fans. Those aren’t necessarily hard leads; those are people you’re building a relationship with so when somebody asks them if they know a contractor, they’ll be used to seeing your brand. When the time comes they need something done, you’re going to be positioned first in their minds.”
Third-party Lead generation services
Glenn Renner, president and chief operating officer of HomeSphere Inc., Lakewood, Colo., focuses on the business-to-business and business-to-consumer side of lead generation. B2B-wise, HomeSphere connects home builders with building product manufacturers. For example, a home builder might want to connect with Company X, which happens to be a partner with HomeSphere. That request will go through an email and CRM platform and, once the two are connected, HomeSphere helps the sales reps manage that process. The B2C side connects contractors to homeowners through the company’s bestcontractors.com platform. Homeowners fill out an online form requesting information, which HomeSphere then sells to a contractor, who can follow up with the homeowner and potentially earn a job.
Renner references a typical lead cycle for each of the two models he works with. At the top of the traditional revenue funnel is suspects, or, people who would be a good target. Beyond that are prospects — people who have knowledge about the product. Next is the lead, which is someone in the early stages of the sales process and who has made contact in some manner. Once that lead is at the point of truly engaging in the sales cycle, it becomes an opportunity. “You know how much it’ll be worth when you’re actively pursuing it,” he explains. “After opportunity it becomes a customer or a lost opportunity.”
In a marketplace saturated with lead generation services, focusing on the quality of leads is vital. “It’s not about price; it’s about the quality of the lead,” Renner asserts. “At the end of the day, if you spend $50 for a lead and can’t get the homeowner to return your phone call, you’ve just wasted your money. Good companies won’t charge you for a bad lead. The problem is how much time you devoted to those bad leads.” Renner recommends contractors look at lead providers and ask questions regarding the lead qualification process and what success rates typically are.
“It comes down to the fact that you are not buying a job; you are truly buying a lead,” Renner says. “A lead is two steps up from a customer. You still need to convert the lead to an opportunity and to do that, it has to be a viable sale. The lead buyer still needs to talk to the homeowner to see if they’re really ready to purchase a contractor’s service.”
Where to start
Salupo believes a well-rounded approach to lead generation is the best tactic. “At the end of the day, I think everything works to an extent,” he says. For first steps, however, Salupo recommends remodelers begin by investing in their website. “It could be as easy as just updating the portfolio and posting pictures,” he says. Salupo populated JM Design Build’s website by asking his guys in the field to think of a question someone recently asked them and the answer to it. “I had content right there; that’s a big thing,” he says. “Recently, a woman sent me an inquiry through the website asking about the difference between granite and quartz countertops. I reached out to a supplier to ask, and the supplier wrote a long email back about the differences. I put that into an article and now that’s one of our most searched topics. That’s an easy way to get started — share the knowledge.”
Renner indicates it’s important to build a good program internally and have a way to evaluate it. “To build a stronger program internally, implement a CRM system to monitor where a lead came from, how many times you call the homeowner and the success rate of the lead generation tactics. If one method works better than the other, adjust accordingly. Build a good program and evaluate it honestly.
“Don’t throw all your money into one bucket, either,” Renner cautions. Creating your own lead generation through a referral base, having a good website, pursuing Google ad word purchases and other tactics can reap rewards. “Take a good lead generation approach as a company. Purchasing leads should be just one of the two or three things you do.”