To the Point Home Services Podcast

The Home Services Podcast That Gives Back

Episode 106: The Marketing Battlefront of the Consumer Experience

February 8, 2022

Episode 106: The Marketing Battlefront of the Consumer Experience

Published: February 8, 2022
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Every company today that focuses on how they are approaching the marketing battlefront of the consumer experience has to be focused on how the digital world impacts the way we do business.

-Darren Dixon, Founder & CEO of fyxify

The trades, for a wide range of reasons, are often slow to adapt to new trends and technologies in comparison to other industries. Perhaps it’s because the way we’ve operated has worked for so many years. Or, it may be underestimating the drastic change in consumer behavior over the last 20 years. Further yet, willingness to integrate and take a chance on new technologies continues to be a pain point.

Darren Dixon has been in the trades for almost three decades. He’s familiar with the “old way” of doing things, but understands that this isn’t a sustainable approach. He’s continuously thinking about the evolution of how the trade industry approaches not just marketing, but how we interact with technology and our customers.

Finding Success

In 1995, Darren was living in Las Vegas. He was working 3 jobs and had a wife in college. Someone approached him and asked him if he would like to make tons of money. Darren pounced on the opportunity, which turned out to be selling air conditioners. The heavens opened, and the job changed his life. He went to work selling AC systems for straight commission in 1996, finding the role to come naturally to him. Getting paid to sit in people’s houses and talk to them was easy compared to juggling his former 3 jobs at once!

Darren would then go to a training held by Contractors Success Group with some of the best sales trainers in the industry–names such as former To The Point guest Terry Nicholson–with Jim Abrams at the top. Through training, mentors, and experience, it didn’t take Darren long to climb. He went from sales guy to sales manager, then to general manager, to buying the company. A few years later, he would create the first One Hour Heating and Air company there ever was.

While his talents certainly played a part, Darren credits using process manuals with a lot of his success in growing the company. He would refer to these training materials on how to run a home services company, using the tried and true methods effectively. Clockwork acquired his company in 2004, and Darren was tasked with duplicating what he was doing in Las Vegas. So, he began the process of acquiring other companies to do just that. In about 4 years, they went from 0-160 million dollars.

Between lots of great mentors and having to review 24 different companies’ information (budgets, daily management reports, etc) on a daily basis, Darren started to get pretty good at recognizing patterns. He learned what worked for marketing and growing companies. And that’s really what Darren is all about. Instead of trying to build a name for himself, his goal is truly to build better companies.

Current State of Consumer Experience in the Trades

After so many years in the HVAC industry, Darren has noticed quite a few things. For example, we often overthink and overcomplicate things, and understanding the consumer is no exception. What’s really important to a person who is having a problem with their air conditioner, or something else that keeps them comfortable? They want three things:

  • Their problem to be fixed as quickly as possible
  • The problem to be as easy as possible to fix
  • The problem to cost as little money as possible

The key here is that in an ideal world, a customer has their problem solved instantly for free. That isn’t really possible, but gives us a direction to head. Another thing to remember is that just because someone is prepared to spend more to solve a problem doesn’t mean that they want to. Keeping this in mind when we do business, how close of an ideal solution for our customers are we creating?

Changing Times

Darren remembers vividly that Jim Abrams would always challenge people to think five years in advance. When you do this and compare companies that have made massive strides in growth (i.e. Uber, Amazon, DoorDash), there is one common theme: technology. So, what does that mean for the trades?

First, we need to look at how technology has already impacted our industry, namely software, in the last decade. Service Titan is the name that Darren points out. Service Titan took a software concept that wasn’t moving forward, energized it, and moved it forward. It’s a tool for contractors that has changed the efficiency and effectiveness in terms of the tools contractors have to run their business. Today, we have to think about the way that consumers want to do business. That’s a huge missing piece.

When considering what consumers want, there are some questions we have to ask ourselves. Is there a faster, more convenient way to get someone out to their home? How can technology break down the paradigms that we have in our industry? When is the effort and problem solving going to be past the best way of the “old way” of doing things, and enter the new way of doing things?

Technology and the Consumer Experience

Darren has thought a lot about these consumer experience shortfalls in the services industry, and has essentially reverse engineered the process. He realized that all of the software in this industry are basically administrative tools. They were designed around how the back end user utilizes the software, not towards the most important person in the equation: the consumer. We don’t have something that is geared around the consumer experience, and then used to link that amazing experience to the contractor through a software interaction.

The “old way” for creating a great consumer experience is training. It’s sending our technicians and CSRs to classes, and teaching them the right way to do things. That’s still a good thing, but it’s not the only thing we have in the modern world. With technology, we can make an even better customer experience through a combination of training and technology. We might have mastered the arts of training and coaching, but we are barely out of the stone age when it comes to technology.

On Tech Replacing the Workforce

One of the reasons we often stick to the old way of doing things is simply fear. Fear of being replaced, fear of change, fear of the unknown. The conversation around whether technology will replace the workforce is always prevalent in our minds. This isn’t the right question to be asking.

The answer is pretty simple when you ask the right question. That question is, simply, “what does the consumer want?” Think about car dealerships. Are there still salespeople there even though you can buy cars online? How about restaurants. Have DoorDash and UberEats made the act of eating in restaurants extinct? No, but they have absolutely altered the name of the game.

Companies in all industries have to understand that there is a range of consumers they need to address. Some may want to go into that car dealership and sit in the car, feel the leather, and hear the live sales pitch. Others might want to simply click a few buttons in the comfort of their living room, read some online reviews, and hit “purchase”. An important piece to keep in mind is that the latter group is only growing, and the former is shrinking in correlation with the ability of technology to improve the buying experience.

On eCommerce in the Trades

When people buy, they are buying based on how they feel. When we use technology to create a feeling process for the consumer, more and more people will use this way of buying if it is more convenient. If a consumer prefers a technician to come in their house and sit down with them, that way of things will continue. Millennials, the group of consumers with the most purchasing power, have shown time and time again that isn’t what they want. Every other Fortune 500 company in the world is showing us that the growing trend is that consumers want to be able to do business digitally. Our job is to make sure that the digital buying process feels just as good, has the same amount of confidence built into it, and as close to the same level of accuracy as we can have.

Think people won’t buy an air conditioner online? Convinced that it will be too much trouble to make sure they get the best product and meet the same standards for installation? Here’s a statistic for you: Two years ago, 500 million dollars worth of equipment was bought online and shipped directly to homes. That represents close to 5% in terms of retail price of the market wanting to do business that way. The only reason that number isn’t higher is because there hasn’t been a faster, easier way to do it.

When it comes to heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, whatever it is…people are looking at the functionality of the product. It’s not a suit; they don’t have to try it on. We know it’s much more than a box, of course, but we have to understand that the consumer doesn’t necessarily see it that way. There is a growing segment of our consumer population that absolutely wants to do business this way, and if you aren’t offering it and offering the best way possible, they will spend their money somewhere else.

So, What’s the Solution?

With all of this in mind, Darren has brought his vision to life. That vision is fyxify. It’s a SasS product that offers a hybrid solution to improve processes and profitability for contractors, and greatly improve the consumer experience as an eCommerce solution. There is no software in the industry that has done this.

Currently, our best solution is basically a combination of softwares that handle a bunch of different tasks. Sometimes they integrate well together; sometimes they don’t. And none of them really focus on the consumer side of the process. fyxify is a seamless combination of all of the tools contractors need to achieve greater efficiency and profitability while also addressing improving the consumer experience.

For the contractor, the fyxify portyl™has no shortage of value. The interactive sales experience helps to increase conversions and revenue. It provides your customers with a greatly enhanced experience that they will associate with your business. It can even help your technicians, automating service and diagnostic procedures for them. Be sure to visit the fyxify website to see more of what it can do, and even request a free demo.

On the consumer side, the fyxify consumer app solves the aforementioned lapses we currently have for the consumer experience. Using the app, a consumer with, for example, a broken air conditioner, can use the app to quickly and effortlessly schedule a certified technician to come to their home right away. It even shows them a live map of where their technician is! It also provides an automated, interactive sales experience, a live eCommerce marketplace, and even utilizes artificial intelligence to help them make the best purchasing decisions.

fyxify provides complete dispatching, complete CRM, complete databasing, complete management suite, and just about everything else you need all in one. Instead of having 50 different platforms to handle 50 different things and trying to get them all working together, doesn’t it make more sense to just have one? Better yet, what if it could make your customer’s experience one that they’ll appreciate even more and make more money in the process?

Technology, Tools, and the Future

We believe that if you look at how good technology has changed our lives, it’s replaced less efficient, less easy ways to do things. When we get that game-changing technology in the trades, it’s going to replace that as well. Darren wants to give contractors the tools to provide your customers with a faster, smarter, and better experience at the same time as lowering the cost of doing business. It’s a combination of improving both ends of the transaction, and is exactly how fyxify was designed.

When we look at what a strategic market advantage means today, we have to consider what the consumer will want moving forward. Do you think your customers will want to call in and sit on hold more in the future, or do you think they’ll want to do business digitally? Is it likely that the customer of tomorrow will want to buy more things online? We know which direction things are headed. If you aren’t moving in the same direction, you simply don’t have the advantage.