New Research: How To Handle Price Shoppers As A Home Improvement Company
While it's impossible to predict what is going to happen with the US economy over the coming months, all indications point to an economic downturn as a potential reality. For homeowners and businesses alike, that means putting all expenditures under a microscope while finding ways to extract more from less. In order to adapt and survive, local service companies must challenge their old ways of thinking and doing. And for many, that means re-evaluating price-conscious customers and understanding how to address their questions and earn their business.
In an effort to help local businesses understand how they can drive growth during these challenging times, we decided to take a look at our recent call data to try and answer these questions:
What is homeowner behavior when it comes to inquiring about the cost of essential home services like plumbing, HVAC or electrical contracting?
What are the best practices that can be executed by home service businesses to address pricing questions effectively?
When following these best practices, what does the call performance data look like for calls with price questions versus not?
Here is what we learned.
- About a third (32%) of homeowners ask about the price on the first call.
- Giving a price quote on the first call reduced the booked appointment rate from 58% to 39%.
- The booked appointment rate of "price shoppers" versus non-price shoppers was virtually the same (if the call is handled properly).
- When speaking to price shoppers, CSR's were 49% more likely to book an appointment if they built rapport and value during the call.
32% of homeowners ask about price on the first call
Many home improvement contractors fervently believe that price shoppers aren't serious about purchasing their services. That belief is creating a blind spot in their business that is costing them money. The reality is this: 32% of homeowners ask a question about pricing on the initial call. Given that, the question you have to ask yourself is:
Is my business really in a position to automatically reject 1/3rd of homeowners seeking your services?
Giving a price quote on the first call reduced booked appointment rate from 58% to 39%
Whether you realize it or not, when a potential customer calls you to discuss your services, you’re engaged in a sales conversation. That means that many of the most common sales tips and best practices must be applied to that conversation to win their trust and earn their business.
Chief among them is one sales truism: You don't discuss price until you've built value, rapport and have addressed concerns.
The reality is that it's challenging to do those things over the phone, especially on the initial phone call - making an actual discussion about pricing ill-timed and typically ill-received.
When looking at our call data, we learned that during calls with "price shoppers", the booked appointment rate for CSRs that quoted a price was 39%, compared to 58% who didn't give a price quote.
Let’s take an actual example.
Homeowner: Hello, my water heater isn’t getting the water hot and I’m curious what you charge to come out and fix it?
CSR: We charge $159 for the first hour and $99 each subsequent hour. Would you like to go ahead and schedule service?
This exchange is something we see often, and it rarely works out for our clients. Why? Put yourself in the homeowner's shoes. What reason have you given them to choose your service over another plumbing company? As far as they are concerned, you're simply a price tag. You've commoditized your company and your service, and have given the homeowner no other reason to choose you other than price. In essence, you've incentivized them to price shop, as opposed to scheduling with you.
The booked appointment rate of price-shoppers vs non-price-shoppers was virtually the same
What our data makes clear is that when a call with a price-shopper is handled correctly by the CSR (i.e., by building rapport, value, and addressing concerns) that the ability to book an appointment is almost the same as when speaking with a potential customer who doesn't ask about the price.
So why do so many contractors believe the opposite? They believe this because their approach to handling these customers has been wrong and ultimately led to poor results.
When speaking to price-shoppers, CSR's were 49% more likely to book an appointment if they built value during the call.
When analyzing our clients' calls, we evaluate our clients' CSRs across multiple criteria. When it comes to handling call interactions where price is mentioned, we have found a direct correlation of three factors between whether or not an appointment is booked on that call.
These three factors are:
- Build Rapport
- Understand Needs
- Build Value
When it comes to local services, people buy from people, not companies. They need to know they can trust the people behind the business because they are ultimately buying a service performed by people.
So what does that mean when it comes to building rapport over the phone? Companies must take every opportunity to humanize themselves with the person on the other end of the phone.
When it comes to building rapport, there are 3 main components:
- Introduce. Make sure you get the homeowner's name and introduce yourself. Use their name as often as possible in the conversation.
- Empathize. If the homeowner is dealing with a hugely inconvenient problem, let them know you empathize with their situation and want to help.
- Relate. Do everything you can to relate on a personal level.
Potential customers need to know that you hear what they are saying and that their situation matters. There is no better way to gain trust than to ask questions and listen intently to the answers.
Let's take the example of the caller that said their water heater wasn't working, for instance. How many questions could that CSR have asked to better understand what's happening with their hot water system?
- How old is the unit?
- What is the make and model?
- When was the last time it was flushed?
- Is the pilot light on?
- Have you had it serviced previously?
By asking questions, you not only learn more about their problem (so you can dispatch the best technician to solve their problem), you’re subconsciously letting them know you care. That goes a long way in earning their trust!
Homeowners aren’t really price shoppers - even if they are asking about price. Like virtually everyone, they are value-shoppers. What does that mean? It means they want to know that they are getting sufficient value for whatever the monetary cost of the service might be to them.
So how can you build value (while speaking around cost)? Let them know what they will be getting if they choose you.
- Technician expertise
- Service warranties
- Industry experience or years in business
- Reviews from happy customers
Give a comforting reason for why you can't give them pricing over the phone. Ultimately, you can't give accurate pricing without truly understanding the situation. There are dozens of things that could factor into the price of the service, and without seeing the issue for yourself, it's simply not possible to give them any pricing that would be of value to them.
Ultimately, your goal when it comes to pricing should be to:
A) explain whatever options are available to them to address their issue, and
B) provide accurate pricing for each option.
This allows them to make a decision that is best for them. So explain that and then quickly to transition to asking for a time when you can have someone come out and take a look at the issue.
We are entering uncharted territory. Businesses are going to require a fresh approach to how they operate to succeed. For many home improvement contractors, that means re-examining crucial interactions with potential customers. So, if you're a business owner that has previously dismissed price-shoppers, we hope that our data and advice give you a fresh perspective that can help you drive more revenue through these difficult times.