During lockdown, many businesses in our sector, including ours, made rapid changes to digitally transform their businesses to allow them to function whilst most of us worked from home. Especially in the installer part of our market.
Five weeks since reopening I am happy to say that many of the changes we have made have been successful and have become our new normal.
One of the first changes we made has been one of our best. We are paying £15 per month to use Adobe Acrobat, which allows us to send documents to our clients for them to digitally sign and send back. They simply type in their name, check any boxes we add, click on any drop-down menus we add, they press send and that’s it. We get our signed contract back with options ticked. They get a signed copy for their own records. Done. No second visits to homes or showrooms. Remember, our industry guidance is to do as much of the selling as remotely as possible and limit as much as we can person-to-person contact. This is making that happen. After our initial meeting, whether that’s at the property, via email or whatever channel we go down, we can get ALL paperwork signed off by the client this way.
Not only that, but it also saves time on driving, which if you have a few appointments per day saves you a lot of time trust me! It saves on paper. It’s way more carbon-friendly than multiple visits to showrooms or people’s homes. Clients are still of course welcome to come and see us in person for more than one visit if they feel they need to and are comfortable in doing so. But I have found that almost all are happy to deal with us in this way as there is less hassle for them as well. And this is happening across all age ranges, not just people you would expect to do business this way. If I were to estimate how much business we are signing up this way, I would put it at at least 75%.
So, if you’re going to make one change to your business today, I would change that. Save time, money, fuel and the environment.
There are other changes we have made as well. A lot of them are website upgrades. We have added an online appointment booking system where clients can choose to book between a home visit, showroom visit, phone call or video call. We have added a large online library of our brochures which continues to grow as we add more resources. We have increased activity on Facebook and are now using more online pricing software packages from a variety of suppliers.
They are all paying dividends. The other day a client booked a video call with us online via our appointment system on the website. We chatted over WhatsApp and I showed her around the showroom to show what was available and she walked me around her home to show me what work was required. She told me that she had already gone to our brochure library and had a good scan of what was available. I am now seeing her at home next week, where she’ll then receive her quite via email and if they’re OK with the price they’re happy to sign digitally. So in just one call one client has used and will use all that we have implemented.
There is more to do, that is always the case. But the digital upgrades we have made so far have all proven highly successful and we are in no doubt that they have not only helped us become more streamlined in what we do, but they have won us new business as well, which is the most important thing.
No going back
Let me be clear when I say that this is our new normal. We invested the time and money and it works. Customers are happy and we’re happy. This is rapid progress in action and its already paying us back. There is no going back from here, only further forwards.
As I said, there is more to do. We want to put in a centralised cloud system for the entire business. The plans are there, it just needs to get done. We want to expand the brochure library. We want to create a new major gallery of our work. We also have some very cool ideas that non of our competition are doing yet so I’m not going to spill that on here!
Whilst we have moved over to digital for a lot of what we do, we have still retained the human element to some degree. Initial home visits can be done, although they tend to be shorter affairs now with minimal inside time and most of it outside. The showroom is open by appointment and people are still happy to come knowing we have put a range of safety measures in place to keep everyone as safe as possible. If someone is spending thousands of pounds then they will still want to get a close up look at what they are buying.
That being said, we fully believe that digital is the core of the future of our business, reinforced with the showroom and home visit human element in a revised post-COVID fashion. We invested time and money to transform our business during lockdown and we’re seeing the rewards.
Then there is the digital help being given by our suppliers. Brisant has just launched an app to help installers sell more doors, which we will be using. You can go check that out here. We’re already using the Solidor designer on our site which brings us business. Our aluminium suppliers have excellent online pricing and ordering capabilities which we’ll be taking advantage of. Same with our sash window suppliers Masterframe.
The end result from going digital is to make doing business easier for you and easier for the homeowner. We live in a world now where physical restrictions have made doing business very different. The priority is getting business done and getting it done well and profitably, and this is where digital infrastructure can make that happen, as it is doing with us. We’re not full for fitting until the end of September.
Make the switch, you won’t look back after you do.
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