Recorded live from the Service World Expo 2021 in Louisville, KY, we bring you Part 3 of our exciting series on the 7 Centers of Business Management! If you haven’t heard Part 1 and Part 2 of our series with Ken Goodrich, CEO of Goettl, feel free to go back and catch up to have more context for this episode.
We previously covered Leadership & Management in Part 1, and Marketing in Part 2. Now, we turn our focus towards Lead Generation and Lead Conversion. As Ken moved through his career from technician to businessman, he faced a lot of challenges that are common in our industry. One of the important lessons he had to learn was the concept of a constant lead flow for your business. It’s not uncommon for business owners to simply take jobs as they come in. That’s not a system, and certainly not consistent—just feast and famine. Ken would like to help you avoid that!
Lead generation is part of your “business machine”, as Ken calls it. You need a constant flow of leads coming in, and you and your team need to figure out what happens next in order to capitalize on each lead. Who do the leads go to? What is your process for handling each lead?
You’ve marketed yourself, made a contact, and created a lead of someone who needs your services—a new potential customer. Great! Now, you’ll need to work to convert them into a sale (lead conversion), and then fulfill the contract (client fulfilment). If you have a constant flow of leads coming in, you can apply your sales system to fulfill your leads and get to the client fulfilment part of the process.
What many contractors struggle with is understanding that lead generation is a 365 days a year proposition, much like branding. You have to be generating leads and promoting your brand every single day. It’s an expense that should be built into your margins, and not one you skimp on. After all, it’s how you’re making money!
Ken has been there. You might be in a tight spot where you know you’re going to need a few installs and a certain amount of service calls in order to hit payroll. You might be needing to create customer demand in a short period of time with a limited budget. Ken tells his team all the time that it’s about ownership of your current situation. In his early days, Ken can remember working out of a sheet metal shop (he didn’t have an office) and opening up the phonebook to the “A’s” and calling people himself. He made a little script, booked a few calls, and got work that way. How bad do you want it?
There are certainly a wide range of ways to approach lead generation, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Each company will find different success using different methods, think of it as an ever-changing experimental strategy. You should be trying everything to see what works best for your company. Still, Ken finds the cleanest and most efficient strategy right now to include a major focus on digital marketing. He encourages you to have not just a digital marketing strategy, but a digital partner at your side. Ken also continues to outbound dial his customer bases and utilize targeted direct mail, too! Sometimes, the tried and true methods work better than you’d expect.
Ken has found and continues to find great success through the acquisition of customer bases. It might be a retiring owner or struggling company, but there is plenty of customer data out there to be purchased. Sure, there may be some databases that are at a premium in the current market, but there are plenty of mom and pop shops in our industry that the PE groups and other contractors aren’t interested in. Think of this as a direct marketing cost. You can use these databases to direct mail, email, telemarket, or any other strategy you have at your disposal. Ken often targets these potential customers to convert into club memberships to start the relationship.
By using a variety of lead generation approaches and continuing to adapt and experiment, you can find success creating that constant flow of leads that are the energy that keeps the machine (your business) operating and growing. The main thing is that you have to stay on top of it and give lead generation daily attention.
If your phones are ringing, the next steps should be pretty obvious. Still, lead conversion is a problem spot for many, many contractors. It’s more than just answering the phone. The process is more than just hiring a firm to handle your lead gen and then hoping your team will close on the lead.
The “sale”, or conversion, starts the second the phone rings (or a contact form comes through, etc). How fast does your CSR answer? What are they saying? What is their attitude? Lead generation means nothing if your lead conversion pieces aren’t in place; the two go hand and hand. You should absolutely be in touch with this process, and have a system in place to ensure your conversion rate is not only tracked, but in a good place. Ken has seen countless struggling businesses start in their call center and turn their business around. You have to coaching your CSRs and technicians, talk to customers, and be in touch with what’s really going on—especially when it comes to your hard-earned leads.
If you’ve listened to Ken’s previous appearances on To The Point, you’ll know he sees a business as a machine. It may be helpful to look at your business from a technician’s point of view. Lead generation is the power going into the machine to make everything else work. You, the technician, need to use your meters and gauges to make sure everything is working properly. Lead conversion is no different. It’s another thing you should have an established process for, and ways to track and measure performance. What is your closing rate? What key phrases do your CSRs use that secure the best booking rates? By tracking and analyzing what you’re doing, you can find opportunities to improve.
At Goettl, the metric for their booking is 92% in the contact center. Ken has spent a lot of time and invested in trainers and has recruited a VP of Customer Experience. Most businesses will find around 80% to be the norm. This can get a bit expensive, but with rising lead costs, it only makes sense to ensure you’re not wasting your money, even if it means spending more in the first place.
Contractors are often our own worst enemies. Don’t hear something is important and then look for the cheapest and easiest way to give that thing attention. Be willing to spend time and money to improve. This goes doubly for your call center. You can’t hire the cheapest and least qualified people to handle such an important part of your business. This isn’t the place to offer minimum wage!
Goettl has created a culture in the call center that trains, supports, and celebrates. CSRs have a daunting job. They are the first point of contact with your customers (who are often calling with a challenge), and you are trusting them to be the voice of your company as well as to book the service. You need to not only explain their purpose and how important they are, but keep their spirits up. Stop and talk to them about their day and what’s going right and what their challenges are. This is the heart of your operation, and you should treat it as such.
Branding is certainly important. Before Goettl focused on building their brand, they were running a click-through rate of around 6%. Afterwards, they saw that number shoot up to 60%. Still, it needs to be clear that branding is not the same as lead generation or marketing. It is an augmentation to the lead generation process, not the lead generation process itself.
If you’re struggling with your lead generation, it might make more sense to get your digital strategy going first. Branding is expensive and won’t give you immediate leads. Be sure your processes and systems for lead generation and lead conversion are established and measured, and then you’ll find branding to be the lever you pull to really skyrocket your leads.
The 7 Centers of Management Attention are an outline; a way to organize yourself and your business. Think about your business like it’s an air conditioner. You could easily break that down into 7 key components that are needed for it to run correctly. Once you have the machine running right, how do you crank up performance? What levels do you need to pull to improve things like leadership or lead generation? You have to use metrics and systems in each area. As the leader, your job is to implement these systems and processes in order to grow.
Part 4 of our series with To The Point legend Ken Goodrich is coming soon! Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast wherever you find us, and leave us a review letting us know how we’re doing!