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Are you making the most of the home improvement boom?

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Installers lost money in lockdown, but could they be about to lose more in a home improvement boom? We report.

According to the latest figures, the home improvement sector was up 18% year-on-year last month. The Business Pilot Barometer also reported a 17% uptick in sales in March on April, and average installed values climbed to £4,750.

Installers are busy and with high demand and continuing disruption to supply, they’re borderline overstretched – something which Ryan Breslin, co-Founder, Business Pilot and MD Cherwell Windows, argues makes sustainable growth difficult to achieve, and something which could be losing them a lot of money along the way.

Companies who hadn’t digitised their processes struggled to trade during Lockdown. If we [Cherwell Windows] hadn’t had the facility to work remotely from home, we would have struggled too. As it was things didn’t really change that much for us. Business Pilot allows us to keep on trading.

“It’s even more important to us now during a period of very high demand from the end-user. Installers are seeing all this work come through, it’s all great it’s all glossy, but staying on top of where each customer is in the sales pipeline is incredibly difficult if you’re working off multiple systems and excel spreadsheets.

“That’s where things like the status progression have been a massive gamechanger for us [Cherwell]. It allows you to take a snapshot, to pinpoint where each customer is in the buying cycle and in turn drive good cultures in your business by understanding the customer journey better, eliminate bottlenecks, and deliver a more consistent and better service.”

Business Pilot was launched in 2019. The product of a collaborative project between Cherwell Windows and Thames Valley Windows, and a two-year development programme with their digital partners.

It mobilises the power of cloud-based technologies, giving installers complete visibility of each and every element of their operation from leads and conversions to job scheduling, cost of installation, service calls, and financial reporting.

It also features a new Status Progression Tool, something which Breslin argues has delivered significant benefits to his own installation business.

As we’re in the glazing business too, we’re able to take direct feedback from within our own businesses and keep evolving the product [Business Pilot] so that we deliver more benefits to our customers. Status Progression is a product of that development”, continues Ryan.

The new Business Pilot Status Progression Tool allows installers to map their lead-to-contract or contract-to-delivery process. It’s made up of three elements, a ‘Pipeline’ or process – what you need to do to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’, lead to contract, or contract to delivery; ‘Status’, where you are in that process; and ‘Tasks’, what you need to do before moving on the next step in the process or pipeline.

The system can be adapted to the specific business processes of each individual company that it’s used by allowing business owners and managers to digitize the processes they use every day and in doing so, guarantee that their teams are following them.

“When you have a lot of growth you have a lot of customers, a lot of people managing them and multiple touch points in their journey, which are all key to making sure that each individual customer has a positive experience. Status Progression creates accountability at each step that that person is responsible for”, adds Ryan.

For example, according to Ryan, the lead pipeline showcases the status of each job instantly, either as created, followed up, demo booked, quoted, mark as sold, sold or lost; each status including tasks and steps that must be completed before moving to the next stage of the progression.

This data can also be searched and cut against each step, so that you can see at any one time, how many jobs have been quoted or demos booked etc. providing a headline overview of your likely onward order book or where each job is within the contract.

Ryan continues: It’s even more powerful in the operational end of the business. This is where your customers are much more focused on getting a good experience. They’ve committed money and they now want to see what you’re really about.

“Inside a contract, if you build out the pipeline correctly, you can even build-in key performance indicators. In my business for example, we have a time parameter for how long the team has to process an order, so we might say survey to order process needs to be done within two weeks.

“If we can see the survey date was 1st April and now order processing is the 22nd April, then we can see that that particular customer has potentially lagged in the pipeline, we can find out why and address it.

“While everyone is busy right now, people are still a little bit nervous about parting with their money. When they deal with you as a company with the infrastructure that Business Pilot gives you, it gives them a far higher degree of confidence in your ability to deliver”, Ryan concludes.

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