We have no idea what the future holds once we overcome COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders are relaxed. What we do know, though, is that the world as we know it will never quite be the same.
But that’s not entirely a bad thing. Throughout history, there always seems to be a renaissance that springs out of the worst times.
With COVID-19, I think we are starting to see that for the home improvement industry. Homeowner engagement via Hatch is up 10%, projects are starting to get booked, and people are sitting on stimulus checks that can make a significant dent in that window replacement or roof repair price estimate they got months ago.
As an industry, though, COVID-19 created a massive shift in how home improvement companies have to operate. The fact of the matter is this - you can’t win without a solid virtual strategy and customer experience right now.
We’re seeing over 500+ virtual appointments being set per week from our platform. But one question keeps popping up - “How can I conduct the most effective virtual appointment possible?”
Leveraging the knowledge base of our partners, as well as our own research, here’s how to build a robust virtual appointment strategy that will help you make better use of your time and close more deals.
Virtual Appointment Software
Before you begin, you need to pick a software that your company can easily adopt and use.
Though we recommend using a browser-based meeting software that doesn’t require an app download, you still have a wide range of appointment tools. Depending on your goal for the appointment, there’s a few routes you can take with your software of choice.
- If you just want a sit-down conversation to talk over a quote, just be sure that your customer has a web-cam enabled laptop for screen sharing so you can walk them through the estimate. For tools, we recommend WhereBy, Zoom, and Google Meet - all are free with their basic plans, though Zoom does have a 45 minute limit.
- If you’d like to guide the customer through measurements and have them walk-through the project area so you can get a visual before the quote, we strongly recommend you use a tool like Whereby, which is accessible from any mobile device and internet browser. This allows the homeowner to be on the go and you can walk them through the process.
If your software allows for recording the meeting, we HIGHLY recommend you encourage your team to download every appointment and share with their peers - this gives you a chance to coach and continue perfecting your virtual appointment process.
With your software ready, you should consider the ways of contacting and staying engaged with homeowners. As per usual, we highly recommend texting, which has seen a ~10% increase in engagement since the start of COVID-19.
We highly recommend using both text and email channels to send appointment reminders and links. For engaging customers and keeping in touch with them leading up to the appointment, we recommend this cadence:
Put yourself in the shoes of your lead - very few homeowners are experts in home improvement. That means you need to play the role of the expert - measuring and terminology is a foreign language to most of these folks, which is usually why they’re outsourcing the project to begin with.
Play the role of subject matter expert - when you solidify a date and time with your lead, have a series of resources prepared to send in an email or text.
Here are a few things you can have your team start building out:
- A blog (just like this one!) outlining what to expect. Give your lead an entire overview of what they should expect. Include a list of tools they should have on-hand (tape measure, measurements, etc.). Most companies would rather knock out the measurements ahead of the call to use the time and provide a quote, so step-by-step measurement instructions are crucial here.
- A video that summarizes your blog. People love videos, and they’re more likely to watch than read. Once you write your blog, think about filming a quick rundown with your phone like a selfie video. It’s easy and a great way to introduce yourself to the homeowner ahead of your live call.
- A pre-written email or text that your reps can copy, customize, and send. Here’s an example of one we’ve seen work well:
Dear [First name],
[Rep first name] with [company name] here. I wanted to send you some resources that I’d love for you to look through ahead of our call.
These will help give you a better understanding of what to expect on our call and make the most of our time together.
Read our blog here [link] or watch this video [link] I made for you. In the meantime, I’m here to answer any questions.
Looking forward to our virtual appointment on [date].
With these items built out, you can educate and start building trust with a lead before you meet face-to-face.
Things To Consider During the Appointment
While you’re not producing a big budget summer blockbuster, there are some things you should keep in mind with your video.
First, your surroundings matter (even if you’re wearing pajama bottoms.) Be sure your background fits with the tone of your company’s brand and what you’re selling.
If you’re conducting a virtual appointment at home, use a clean, well-lit area. For window companies, it might make sense to include in your background a nice window or something related to your product.
As a personal note, I can’t imagine anything that would affect my purchase decision more than seeing my home improvement expert with a less-than-stellar home in the background. Small considerations like that can really affect the virtual experience for the consumer on the other end of the camera.
If you’re at the office, set-up a virtual appointment station in the showroom and put up any branded banners or other marketing collateral in sight.
With your appointment wrapped up, here are a few more things to think about with follow-up and continuing the process.
- Yes, this is sales 101, but it goes without saying that after you’ve conducted your virtual appointment, be sure to follow-up up with a note to recap your conversation.
- Take this a step further - the added benefit of virtual appointments is that you can share the entire recorded session with the customer.
- Go back through the recorded session and write down every question your customer asked you - this is good material for future marketing activities (blog posts, etc.). If you already have an article related to a specific question, include a link in your follow-up.
Virtual appointments are hard to just plug-and-play. You need a strategy in place to make the most out of your opportunities. Our team is constantly monitoring best practices for effective virtual appointments and is more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this article or are curious to learn more.
Are you up-to-date on the latest home improvement trends and statistics?
Be sure to check out our blog on trends in home improvement to see updated statistics on homeowner search volumes and home improvement customer communication.