The roof of my sun porch recently sprang a leak, causing water to seep into my ceiling and walls. You know what water damage looks like—ugly and brown.
Because I have the home repair skills of a toddler, I decided to call a contactor before any more damage was done. I figured that I could call someone who knew roofing and could handle the interior wall work and repainting.
Unfortunately, instead of calling just one contractor, I had to call five.
Why? Because the first four didn’t answer the phone and worse, they didn’t bother to return my calls.
Now, I know my little home repair project isn’t going to make anyone rich, but this highlights what I see as the number one problem holding back home improvement companies: they don’t answer the phone—and those that do don’t answer it well.
If you look over the list of the country’s most successful home improvement companies, you’ll see they have one thing in common: exceptional telephone work. They answer calls quickly, they answer courteously, and they demonstrate their appointment setting skills on each and every one. If they receive a voice mail after hours, they call homeowners back immediately upon their return to the office—or before.
Why is this so important? Let me go back to my water-damaged ceiling.
I called four contractors who didn’t pick up the phone. So whatever marketing dollars they spent to get my attention are wasted because they didn’t answer when I called. While the entire home improvement industry cries over the high cost of a lead, the simplest and easiest way to cut your per-lead costs is to generate more leads out of your marketing investments.
That means answering calls more quickly. And it means squeezing more appointments out of those calls. Let me do some quick math to illustrate the difference.
Company ABC receives 100 calls in a week from homeowners. ABC answers 30 of those calls live. Another 30 go to voice mail. The homeowners who make the other 40 calls hang up and don’t leave a message.
Of the 30 calls that were answered live, 12 set as appointments, with four turning into sales of $3,000 each. Of the voice mails, only six set as appointments and two turn into sales of $3,000 each. So those 100 calls turned into $18,000 of business for ABC.
Now let’s look at Company XYZ. For those same 100 phone calls, 80 were answered live. 15 went to voice mail. The other five didn’t leave a message.
Using the same ratios as the first example, XYZ books 48 appointments from the calls answered live, with 16 turning into sales of $3,000 each. Of the voice mails, three set as appointments, and one became a sale of $3,000.
XZY generated $52,000 in revenues from their 100 calls, compared to ABC’s meager $18,000.
While this may seem to be an extreme example, the numbers aren’t as far-fetched as you might think. There’s a reason that the big home improvement players can still afford radio and television. It’s because their phone rooms can get the most out of every inquiry simply by properly picking up the phone and setting appointments better than the rest.
So now the answer to the real question: What happened to my ceiling? The fifth contractor I called answered the phone and came to my house the next day to look at the damage. He gave me a reasonable estimate, and I gave him the job on the spot. I would have gotten more estimates, but I didn’t want to spend any more time trying to get a contractor to pick up the phone.