Part 1 of this installment may have left you with a nagging question. How exactly are home improvement companies supposed to make sales without an in-home visit? It seems impossible.
But for some products, it’s a lot more possible than you might think. Here are a few ways companies are re-imagining the in-home visit.
How to Pitch to Someone Who Doesn’t Want to See You
In the coming years, sales reps will need to pitch to homeowners who prefer privacy. That means they’ll need to sell by phone or email. This can be a good thing eventually.
Rather than a host of sales reps on the road constantly running appointments and driving every day, they’ll re-orient around selling in an office and over the phone – but also selling to more homeowners every day. They’ll handle many more inquiries. Sales just won’t look the way it used to.
You’ll need to communicate by image, too. Here’s how it will go: the homeowner will take 5 pictures of the windows they want replaced, email them to you… and that’s it. You’ll need to price from there. Or, much like the carpet and flooring business, you’ll send someone for a “measure” and then complete the sales process over the phone.
This process is currently being used by a well-funded start-up called Renoviso out of Boston. The idea is to provide a homeowner with pricing as quickly and seamlessly as possible – without the in-home visit.
The technology of measuring widths, heights and depths is going to exist – if it doesn’t already. Roofers, for example, use software like Eagle View and Roofsnap to evaluate slope and pitch, and to get exact numbers. Solar companies use Google Maps to see which homes have access to adequate sun. Without a sales visit, they can calculate estimates and close over the phone.
Some roofers are also using drones. I spoke with a roofer who told me that he no longer climbs second story roofs. He sends a camera drone up into the sky, then provides an accurate quote based on what he sees. As technology improves, this approach will become the standard.
Even custom pool cover companies are using software to take accurate measurements. Check out this offering from Loop-Loc to its swimming pool dealers:
This Isn’t Going to Happen Overnight
Obviously, the fall of the in-home sale visit isn’t going to happen overnight. Properly estimating a kitchen or a bathroom is a multi-step process, and will probably survive as in-home sales for some time. And it’s far too soon to say how profitable these phone-only approaches to home improvement sales will be.
But as the next generation of homeowners comes calling, don’t be surprised if they demand much more information and many fewer in-home visits. It’s not you, it’s them. The internet, mobile phones and the point-and-click nature of the world will have trained them to do many more things digitally than home improvement companies may be ready for.