The current situation presents a real opportunity for companies who sell residential building materials. Everything is changing. With the right approach, you can use those changes to grow your business.
Everyone is spending more time at home. Even those who have to leave for work every day will come home at night instead of going out to restaurants or events.
They are not thinking about their next vacation or looking forward to traveling. I have always said that the biggest competitors for home improvement are luxuries like new cars and vacations. Now, some of those competitors have been eliminated.
People are watching more television, doing puzzles, reading books and finding new ways to communicate with each other virtually.
Instead of dreaming about the next escape, they are thinking about the changes they’d like to make to the homes they’re isolating themselves in.
They’re realizing what a difference it would make to upgrade their kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other living spaces. They are looking outside and considering fences, decking, better landscaping and more.
If their windows need replacing, they’re noticing it a lot more now.
That’s great news for the home improvement industry. The problem is that it’s an industry designed to meet with homeowners in person and close the deal today. Even DIY products are sold based on the customer knowing what they want and being ready to buy.
The big opportunity for residential building materials is to make it easier for homeowners to play with their homes.
Companies should be empowering homeowners to be designers and problem solvers by providing them apps that are easy to find and use.
These apps should let customers dream a little:
- Let’s reorganize your kitchen. As the customer uses the app, they start seeing the changes they’d like to make. For some, it will be something as simple as a new appliance. Others will want to redo the entire kitchen.
- Let’s reorganize your closets, laundry room or garage. This would lead to more small and large sales for closet organization companies.
- Door and window maintenance videos. This would lead to more educated homeowners who will be more likely to upgrade their hardware, add a screen door or replace their doors and windows.
- How-to redesign your bathroom app or video series. This would get more homeowners to realize how much they would enjoy a new bathroom.
- Turn your backyard into your special place. Showing customers that the backyard can be so much more than just a bit of extra space would lead to more deck, fencing and landscaping sales.
The idea is to get the project that uses your product on the radar screen of more homeowners. They are already sitting at home staring at the problem. You can offer them the solution.
Most home improvement sales are focused on inbound inquires and having a relatively high close ratio.
That works in normal times. But these aren’t normal times.
Home improvement product companies should switch to the top of the sales funnel while people are sitting in their homes. That’s the way to create more customers while people are quarantined.
This requires a different measure of success. For example, you would never consider closing 1 out of every 10 sales as a success. That’s because doing a design and in-home estimate means you’re investing a lot in your lead.
If someone comes to your site instead or uses your content to play with some renovation and reorganization ideas, they are doing it on their own time and only involve you when they have a question or are ready to move ahead.
In other words, once you have the content, you don’t have any additional costs.
Many companies already have some of these tools but they are hidden deep in their website instead of being front and center.
If you have content that enables people to think about improving their homes, on their own, use it! Start with what you have and look for ways to improve it.
If you don’t have content like this, think about how quickly you can develop it and let people know that it’s available.
Builders can also benefit from people being stuck at home. Rather than a “Here’s our models and costs” approach, they should take a “What if you moved to a new home?” approach.
Our current situation is unprecedented and few of us are prepared to deal with it. But it’s only a crisis until you can see an opportunity in it. If you can help homeowners envision themselves in a better home and supply them with the products they need to make it happen, you’ve got the tools to make lemonade out of this pile of lemons.