As they say in all the best cop movies: ‘We don’t have any leads’. Or at least we don’t have what we used to enjoy, of the sales leads variety of course. Now don’t get me wrong, we do OK but unless it’s just me and my lot, good quality retail sales leads are harder to come by.
I started as a door-knocker and salesman and I still go out and sell a bit now. In fact I still think I do it better than any of my sales people and it’s great business and great fun. I still enjoy the challenge and buzz of closing a sale and of course, now I control every stage of the process so I can make some nice promises to customers that I know I can keep.
Getting to the customer’s couch is far tougher than it used to be. The lead brokers, for example, are not providing the numbers that they once did (correct me if I am wrong out there) and we got fed up with the volume and quality despite the assurances of the people selling them. You have to be quick off the mark of course and respond immediately the lead turns up to get the edge on the other lead-takers, but still when you call the homeowner is all too often ‘sorted thank you’. Our experience is that only around 1 in 5 convert into an appointment.
In the end the combination of mixed quality leads and payment up front defeated us and we have looked towards other sources. Quite simply there are too many squirrels chasing the same nut.
Of the others we currently find the ‘vetted tradesman’ directories work better for us. They do nothing other than list you and you have to work hard to ensure that listing is fresh and, of greater difficulty, to get your happy customers to actually go back online and rate your efforts. It’s amazing how few can be bothered even when they declare their satisfaction.
Traffic to these sites is driven by the extensive and impressive levels of advertising they do in national newspapers and on TV; whilst these levels are sustained the business we get from them is OK but I have wondered about the amount of sales they have to generate to justify promotional expenditure that must be in the millions. But these ‘Trip Advisor’ for tradesmen companies are currently effective for us so we will make hay whilst the sun shines.
Being somewhat Old School I bemoan the stunting of tele and door canvassing. Increasingly stifled by regulation and socially stigmatised through the incessant hammering away of scams like the PPI claims, many homeowners might even find relief in a good old fashioned ‘double glazing’ canvassing. I am astonished that there are any PPI policies left unclaimed but even more so, that anyone responds to the autodialling. But of course, they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work…
The best leads of course are those from punters that have found you through web searches, forums and clever Internet research, to land on your web site and contact you directly. Often cash rich and time poor these rely heavily upon the ‘net and are likely to be more readily convinced by a rational discussion about the quality of your products, infrastructure and financial well being rather than any “BS’ about ‘60% off if you sign today’.
THANK THE OLIGARCHS FOR BETTER WINDOW SALES…
Property prices are recovering although thankfully somewhat slower than last year’s panic buying that took place especially in London. This has the trickle down effect that will stimulate home improvements, especially as the ripples spread out from the capital and through the South East where property prices will still increase, although not quite as much where Russian Oligarchs and Chinese Billionaire buyers strangely have less natural desire to buy property – such as Braintree and Southend for example.
So we are still confident that we, and more to the point, our retail installer customers, will continue to enjoy growth but they will have to work bloody hard to get every murmur about a new job.
Commercial and house building are doing very well however and, whilst prices need to be ultra competitive and operations slick, if you’re set up for it (and perhaps needless to say, Pioneer is) then growth is hard and fast at present and I don’t see it letting up. And whilst there are already soothsayers predicting that the ‘boom’ will peak next year and the cycle will roll downwards again, I don’t believe so. We have a while to go yet.
VOTE FOR THE DEVIL…
Having said that of course, the General Election might throw everything into the melting pot. In my humble and perhaps simplistic view it seems that there is less to tell the blues and the reds apart than ever before in respect of their policies and even their social backgrounds. There might be a hullaballoo about the Tory Toffs but the Labour party is hardly exclusively full of working class miners and factory workers. I find it difficult to make any sort of connection with any of them.
I detect a real disconnect with politicians generally, perhaps more so than ever, and that might just give us some real headlines and food for thought for the future. The worry of course is what this will do to the continuing improvement in the economy and confidence generally. Perhaps ‘better the devil you know’ might be the right outcome. Otherwise, as the Chinese say, be careful what you wish for….
– Danny Williams