The change in fortunes within UK fenestration has been well telegraphed, with a number of warnings by a number of companies across the supply chain that things have changed.
So, in this changing climate, where living costs are spiralling and inflation is the main story at the moment, what can installation companies in the fenestration sector do to win new business? After spending all my working life in this part of the fenestration industry, here are my ten ways to win new business in the months ahead.
1. Boost social media marketing
This should already be one of your central marketing tools within the business. But if it’s not, then it really is time to embrace social media and the many benefits it brings to a business.
Image and video-based platforms create the most impact if the purpose of using social media is to create new leads. Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and Facebook are all very good examples of image-based social media where homeowners search and scroll to find inspiration and new ideas. Some installers have been using social media as a means of lead generation for a while and report very good results from it.
Social media requires work and long term commitment. The best results come from consistent posting and engagement over a sustained period of time. This builds up brand recognition with your potential audience and increases the chances of generating leads from the content posted on your channels. Make sure the images and videos are of good quality to ensure they stand out to viewers and ensure you post regularly. I have found Instagram and Facebook to be particularly useful to our installations business.
2. Expand your product portfolio
When the economy is changing, as it is now, it is important to be responsive to the environment around you. Today, the story is about inflation and the rising cost of living. This means certain demographics will be under pressure to cut spending. And when spending is cut, sales fall. So installers have to be receptive to that and find new revenue streams.
You find new revenue streams by expanding your product portfolio to offer more things to more people. For example, I have recently written about how our business has pivoted heavily towards the higher end bracket of products and clients and that it is already paying dividends. Focusing more on products such as pivot doors, flush windows and aluminium bi-folding doors have brought in a huge amount of new business. This is new business that I don’t believe we would have won had we stuck to our standard offerings.
It doesn’t always have to be the higher end where you expand your product offerings. It could be that your local area is more suited to a more budget-friendly option to try and combat rising prices.
Aiming at new markets that you have not tapped previously can always be very useful when times are less certain.
3. Exploit your existing client database
Hopefully, installation companies have been building up email databases over the last few years. If so, this is a valuable source of marketing. Previous customers are some of the most loyal, and regular email updates to existing customers offering new products or additional services can bring in extra business.
We tried it during the Great Recession. In an effort to find new revenue streams we contacted all of our previous customers and provided them with an offer on high-security door cylinders retro-fitted into their existing doors. We did a great deal of business from our database and sold not only just a heap full of new cylinders but also secure some new window and door contracts too. Had we not done that, we would not have won that new business
Existing customer databases are potential gold mines for new business. They should not be abused, with emails constantly peppered at customers all the time. But should be used when there are new products and services to offer.
4. Use your showroom
If you’re an installer with a showroom, use it! Online services play the greatest part in the marketing of business these days. But a showroom is perhaps one of the few physical marketing means that pack a punch.
We use ours to great effects. We estimate that 85% of the customers that come into our showroom end up placing an order with us. A showroom is a chance for installers to really impress a potential new customer with their products. But it is also a chance for a business to demonstrate to a client the professionalism of the company and gives the client the opportunity to get to know them.
Keep your showroom clean and organised. There is nothing worse than going to a showroom with samples just leant up in corners collecting dust or the general spacing not being planned out properly. Stage it well. Have all your key products in eye-catching places. Get plenty of light in there as well. This is your best chance to leave a lasting impression.
If your budget allows it, perhaps spend some money on revamping the showroom. It gives you a chance to show off any new products you have decided to add to your product portfolio and is also a chance to invite new and existing customers to visit you and generate some new leads.
Don’t underestimate the power of a showroom.
5. Get a virtual showroom
Virtual showrooms are becoming incredibly important tools within the overall marketing plan of business. Installers need to embrace the additional opportunities virtual showrooms can provide.
Not every installer has a physical space to host a showroom. This can make it difficult to demonstrate to a client their entire product portfolio. Virtual showrooms can get around that problem. With in-built hotspots, product videos, brochure downloads and more, virtual showrooms can provide a very effective tool for installers who want to be able to show a potential client everything they do.
During the height of the pandemic, when showrooms were closed, companies like Morley Glass and Masterframe funded the cost of virtual showrooms for many installers. A great show of support for the sector. The installers who benefitted from this have since reported tens of thousands of visits to these virtual showrooms, with new business being done as a result.
It is also a great way to allow new clients to look at a business that perhaps cannot physically make it to the premises for a variety of reasons.
Virtual showrooms are already a proven source of new business and are something installers should really be looking at.
6. Increase online advertising spending
Social media is a fantastic tool to promote your business to all sorts of audiences. Even better, it’s free. However, all social media platforms, as well as Google and other search engines have paid options specifically for advertising.
The good news is that the costs to advertise on social media and search engines are relatively cheap. You can be very specific with the types of audiences you point your adverts to, and you get a very detailed breakdown of costs per click and what kind of traffic and lead generation you can expect to get from your investment.
There are now tools you can use to prevent bots and competitors from simply clicking on your online ads to purposely run down and waste your budget. From experience, whilst this can bring in new leads, it works very well as a way to build up brand recognition with your audience. It may be that these ads generate leads further down the road, if not immediately, but it’s worth doing alongside your other marketing activities.
7. Focus more on what you sell
Whilst expanding your portfolio to find more revenue streams is one option, the other is to attempt to focus more on what you already sell a lot of. Expanding the number of products you sell is not always an option for every company. But if your business already does well in certain areas, for example, in aluminium bi-folds, sliding patio doors, sash windows, solid roof conversions etc, then it would be wise to invest more in these areas.
This is something we are going to do in tandem with expanding our product options at our place. We already do well with flush windows, entrance doors and bi-folding doors. So we’re going to do all we can to enhance further the number of sales of those products. We know we already do a lot of them. We know our margins on those products are good and we know there is still a healthy demand for those products in our local area. So we’re going to spend some time and money to expand in these areas.
8. Don’t ignore your website
Websites are never finished. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. There is always something that needs updating. New products to add. Images to change. SEO to enhance. But just like a showroom or social media channels, a website is also one of the most important tools any company has.
They’re a powerful lead generation tool. They create the first impression of a company before a client comes to see a business in person. A website that is left to fester and become out of date loses impact and falls way down in the search rankings. A simple way to win new business is to ensure that your website remains up to date.
That means keeping all product information up to date, images fresh, lots of calls to action, link your virtual showroom to your website. Your site is a tool that can do many things. As long as you can inspire a potential client through your site for as long as possible, you will be sure to generate new leads through your website on a regular basis.
9. Contact architects and housebuilders
The self-build part of the economy is booming. More and more people are wanting to build their own homes. That means architects and specifiers are in very high demand. Now would be a very good time to introduce your company to them.
Whether it’s via email or in the post, or even a knock at the office doors, send an information pack about your installations business and introduce who you are to them. If installers are looking to break into the higher end market this would be a very good route to do so. If you can strike up a good relationship with an architect there is a chance you can will more regular work on more projects by getting the products you provide specified as standard.
This perhaps isn’t a route which will win lots of new contracts immediately. It will take some time and you may only make one or two new relationships. But those one or two could provide a lot more long term which is highly profitable and will provide excellent marketing material to help push your business further forwards.
10. Offer finance
Giving your clients different ways to pay is going to be very important in the coming months and years as the cost of living crisis and inflation grows worse. Middle-income families are getting slammed with higher costs, with food, gas, electricity, fuel, clothes and everything else going up in price rapidly. It is squeezing the ability of many to freely spend.
Many will still want their windows and doors upgrading. New windows and doors will still be a desirable option for many as an attempt to make their homes warmer in the winter. But the cost of living crisis means that paying out thousands just isn’t an option. So offering alternative ways to pay, such as financial services is one way to unlock that part of the market.
Finance agreements in our industry are nothing new, but many smaller installers do not offer it as part of their overall service. As we enter a new tougher period for the economy, and personal spending is being restricted, offering finance on home improvements could be a very useful way to generate new leads and new business.
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