A panel of experts gathered recently to share with those who sell home improvement products, including doors and windows, how to become more efficient with leads while at the same time lowering costs. While homeowner demand continues, one theme that emerged throughout the Home Improvement Profitability Summit, held last week in New Orleans by Dave Yoho and Associates, is how the cost of leads continues to rise. Another hot topic is how companies must be prepared when sales start to slow.

“You have to act like this demand is ending tomorrow,” said Brian Kaskavalciyan, co-owner, gFour Marketing. “We have to set up today’s customers, so they are also tomorrow’s customers.”

He reminded attendees to incorporate best practices such as saying thank you or sending something like cookies and a card. And most importantly, “Make review collection easy and effortless. Talk about referrals often—all the time.”

He said it’s also important to stay engaged with customers monthly, even if they buy a roof which they will never buy again. “You can still get referrals from them,” he said.

In his experience with home improvement companies, he said customer retention is mostly ignored. “It is seen as a cost rather than an investment,” he said. “Doing this is like having a really good insurance policy.”

Mark Highbaugh, CEO, Malimar Interactive, stressed the importance of a comprehensive messaging approach that should include text messages. Highbaugh reported that 95 percent of every text message sent is read, while more than 50 percent of calls are going unanswered, and an increasing amount of emails are sitting unread.

He also shared what he believes is the most critical part of the whole home improvement game—customer experience. Caleb Nelson, president/owner, Destination Motivation, shares this opinion.

“Enhance your customer experience,” he stressed. “This has taken over price and product as the key brand differentiator.”

The last speaker in the session was Tim Musch, director of business development for MarketSharp, one of many speakers at the event who discussed the issue of pricing.

“Most of us aren’t pricing high enough,” he said. “Normalize your pricing. This will help you invest and grow.”

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