2022 is shaping up to be slower and tougher, which means lead management becomes even more important.
Leads – nobody has needed them for almost 24-months. Things are, however, starting to change. “There was always going to be some sort of market adjustment”, says Elton Boocock, Managing Director, Business Pilot, “a normalisation, things couldn’t go on forever as they were.
“We were prepared for that. There are, however, some significant challenges on the horizon that we perhaps weren’t expecting, and we now need to prepare for those and that means capitalising on still significant but lower levels of demand for home improvements.”
A number of factors have combined to make trading conditions going into spring slightly tougher than expected.
Although the housing market continues to perform strongly in value terms, stock availability and affordability are low, something Nationwide has said it expects to lower the number of transactions this year, which according to Elton can be expected to lead to slowing of demand for windows and doors.
Then there’s also inflation, driven by the hikes in energy bills and removal of the energy price cap, something which could see average household bills top £2,000 a year from April and hit record highs £2,350 by this time next year.
“It seems almost insane to be saying it, but the tensions between Russia and the West are compounding the pressure”, continues Elton. “Energy prices could rise even higher which means inflation could be even worse than the 7% forecast by the Bank of England only a few weeks ago.
“It’s not the end of the line, we aren’t predicting a collapse in demand and the flip side of the coin is that rising energy prices may bring more focus to energy efficient home improvements.
“It’s just that things aren’t going to be quite as easy and that means how you manage and convert leads is going to be more important.”
This backed up in Business Pilots own figures. Its’ barometer provides a snapshot of the industry and shows that sales in January 2022 were 14% down year-on-year on the same time in 2021. Compared to January 2020 (that’s pre-COVID) they’re 36% down. It also recorded a month-on-month drop in conversions of 12% January on December.
“We’re simply saying every lead has to count (as it always should)”, Elton adds.
Business Pilot is a powerful CRM and business management tool. Launched in 2019 it’s the product of a collaborative project between Cherwell Windows and Thames Valley Windows, and a two-year development programme with their digital partners.
Accessible across all devices, from desktop to phone, it supports installers in running their businesses more profitably, integrating with lead generation tools, supplier ordering systems and accountancy software to bring data into one place.
This includes an overview of performance through its Sales Dashboard. It tracks leads, demos, daily, weekly and monthly sales, plus closing ratios. “You can literally review where you are against KPIs, and the status of leads. It’s there at your fingertips as a day-to-day management tool.”
This effectively pulls-in data from its Status Progression Tool which allows installers to map their lead-to-contract or contract-to-delivery process and make sure that their teams follow it, so no lead slips through the net.
“The system can be adapted to the specific business processes of each individual company”, explains Elton, “It’s your sales process not ours but it’s there in a digital format, so you can automate parts, for example follow up emails or schedule follow-up appointments and nothing gets missed.”
For example, 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.
“It creates accountability at each step of the process and visibility of where everything is in your sales or operational pipeline”, Elton adds.
“It also allows you to manage cashflow more effectively. That’s going to be increasingly important when the market is more demanding.”