In 1985, Marty McFly saw the future and it was strange. Now, we live in that future. Drones buzz above our heads, we have handheld tablet computers and the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.
What Marty didn’t see was how the future would look for home improvement companies. Now, at the very beginning of 2017, it’s my turn to look into the future in both PART 1 and PART 2 of this post.
Specifically, I want to address the future of the “in-home visit” and the two major problems associated with it for today’s homeowner.
With the current surge of internet-friendliness into our daily lives, also known as “the Internet of Things,” homeowners are going to want contractors to re-think how they sell and manage their services. With the whole country pointing, selecting and clicking, homeowner behavior is leaning towards convenience, ease-of-use and simplicity.
You wouldn’t use those same words to describe the in-home visit. They require a certain amount of intrusion, as homeowners let a stranger into their home for an undetermined amount of time. Homeowners already have busy schedules and a million other things to worry about. And there’s the increased anxiety (of less socially adept millennial homeowners) of having to interact with an unknown person who is going to hit them with high-pressure sales tactics.
It’s the opposite of point, click and select.
The discomfort with in-home visits will continue to rise as Millennials become homeowners. These homeowners have spent most of their lives with digital screens and they are major participants in the on-demand economy.
They buy more from Amazon than they do from the mall. They expect to find what they need online without hassle or difficulty. To them, an in-home sales visit will seem unnecessary, especially when they can just Google job costs on their mobile phone.
As a result, more homeowners will want to skip the in-home visit and opt for an alternative.
Next, one of the very real problems I am hearing about from dozens of home improvement companies comes from being able to hire and retain good sales reps. Company after company is telling me that they would grow significantly faster…if only they could find sales help.
The in-home sale is only as good as the ability to find good in-home salespeople. And there are certainly ups and downs in the economy, and the availability of sales people does fluctuate. But between job hopping, driving around all day, and 60-80% rejection rates, there are, and will always be, easier ways to make a living.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s crazy to even think about eliminating the in-home sales call. The entire industry is built on it. And I agree. It is crazy – right now.
But movie studios once said that Blockbuster was crazy. And Blockbuster said that Netflix was crazy. And Netflix…now rules everything. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but someday soon, it’s going to happen to home improvement too.
Please stay tuned for PART 2 of this blog post, where we take a look at alternative selling methods for home improvement companies.