One of the greatest challenges home service contractors face is getting a hold of new leads when they come in (maybe you can relate).
Even with a solid lead follow up process, the time it takes to turn new leads into booked appointments ranges from hours to days, days to weeks, and weeks to never.
But what if your contractor marketing efforts could turn new leads into booked appointments automatically, without having to rely on the manual sales follow up process you’re used to?
Well, I’m here to tell you it’s possible…
And by the end of this post, you’ll know exactly how to get set up with the same system we’ve been using to turn nearly 6 out of every 10 new leads we send our customers’ way into booked appointments automatically, in less than 10 minutes.
Before I show you how, let’s look at what’s wrong with the current way of doing things…
The problem with existing lead follow up tools
If you’re like most contractors, you rely on one or more of these 3 tools to get in touch with new leads that come your way:
You should definitely continue using these tools, but here’s why you might be falling short with each of them…
1. Relying on phone calls to make contact
This is the cornerstone of any effective lead follow up process.
But unfortunately, many contractors aren’t aware of what it takes to be successful with their phone follow-ups.
Statistics show that it can take up to 18 phone calls in order to make contact with a new lead.
If that’s not shocking enough, consider this: 78% of customers end up buying from the first business that responds to their inquiry.
You’re also 7 times likelier to make contact if you call a new lead within 60 minutes of it coming in, and exponentially more likely to reach them when calling within the first 5 minutes.
In other words, the phone is a powerful follow-up tool, but only if you’re fast and persistent.
Unfortunately, many contractors struggle with this.
2. Relying on voicemails to make contact
Then there’s voicemail as a follow up tool to book appointments.
Just call new leads and leave a message, right? They’ll call back eventually.
The average voicemail response rate is a measly 4.8%.
There’s nothing left to say here other than if a homeowner calls you back after a single voicemail, consider buying a lottery ticket.
3. Relying on email to make contact
Last but not least, there’s email.
Another solid lead follow-up tool, but unfortunately it doesn’t work in every situation.
For example, most older folks do not have their email accounts synced up to their smartphones (if they even have a smartphone in the first place), and so you’re stuck waiting for them to check email on their desktop (which can take days or weeks).
Add in the fact that the average email open rate hovers around 24%, and that another good chunk of emails automatically end up in junk or spam folders, and the number of emails that actually hit someone’s inbox diminishes tremendously.
Email follow up can work, but it’s not some kind of secret weapon.
What follows, is.
How to turn new leads into booked appointments automatically
So phone, voicemail, and email have their quirks.
What should you add into the mix to improve your lead to appointment rate?
The answer is Automated SMS Text Messaging.
Why text messages are the holy grail of increased appointment setting
Unlike the other follow up tools mentioned above, text messages are hard to ignore.
Think about it…how many unread text messages do you have?
Probably none, and the statistics don’t lie: 98% of all text messages get opened, compared to just 24% of emails.
If that weren’t enough, as humans we’re glued to our cellphones.
We’re conditioned to look at our phones every time they ring or vibrate, and studies show that 9 out of 10 text messages are read within 3 minutes of delivery.
So by leveraging automated SMS text messaging, you’re virtually guaranteeing that new leads will at least see your message, which isn’t always the case with the other follow up tools mentioned.
And when you take it a step further by giving people the opportunity to book an appointment with you right on the spot, that’s where the magic happens.
Here’s how it all works…
Setting up your automated SMS appointment booking system
To make this work for your business, there are really only 3 things you’ll need:
- automated SMS software
- appointment scheduling software
- compelling text messages that get people to take action
Let’s start from the top.
Automated SMS software
This piece of software is crucial to the whole strategy.
It’s what lets you send automated text messages after a form is submitted on your contractor website and reach people directly on their smartphones.
Note: You may be asking yourself, “but don’t people leave their home or work phone number when submitting a form?” At the moment, we’re seeing that 89% of phone numbers provided during form submissions are cell phone numbers, and we believe this number will continue to increase over the coming years.
For this, we use Simple Texting which is reliable, inexpensive, and easy to use.
You can check out their resources section in order to get set up, but it’s fairly straightforward.
Once that’s done, you’ll need another piece of software to help you book appointments on the spot.
Appointment scheduling software
For this, your best bet is to use Calendly, a simple scheduling app that only costs a few bucks a month and takes just a few minutes to set up.
There are other apps that do what it does, but we’ve found Calendly to be the best.
Check out their video tutorials to get up and running.
A compelling text message
With the two main pieces of the puzzle out of the way (your automated text messaging system and your appoint scheduling system), all that’s left to do is craft one or more compelling text messages to get your leads to take action.
And rather than teach you, I’m just going to share our exact automated text messages with you so that you can copy them.
We’ve tested many different variations and these exact messages have led to nearly 60% appointment setting rates, so start with these before you try your hand at creating your own.
Here’s an example of what gets sent off immediately (and automatically) when a new lead comes in for one of our roofing contractors:
“Hi %%firstname%%, It’s Bob from ABC Roofing. We just received your request and someone will contact you shortly to schedule your roof inspection.“
Note: The %%firstname%% string is a Simple Texting shortcode that will automatically pull in the lead’s first name, which helps to personalize the message and get them to pay attention.
Then, one minute later, we’ll have Simple Texting send out another message with a link for the lead to schedule their roof inspection:
“%%firstname%% to save you time, here’s a link to our calendar if ever you want to schedule your property visit to get your Free Inspection & Estimate: [calendar link]”
Nothing fancy. Short and to the point, with a link that takes them to a calendar where they can book an appointment at a time of their choosing, which looks like this:
Then, if that doesn’t work, after a few days we’ll send a message like this:
“Hi %%firstname%%, It’s Bob from ABC Roofing. One of my specialists is in your area and he would like to stop by to inspect your roof. When is a good time to come by?“
With this one, we’re just fishing for a reply and not necessarily asking them to book their own appointment.
If they do reply, then we’re able to jump in and take over the conversation manually via the Simple Texting app (which you can easily install on your smartphone), answering any questions the homeowner may have in order to seal the deal and book an appointment.
This one simple strategy has allowed us to help our customers turn 56% of their home improvement leads into booked appointments within 10 minutes flat.
Not only does this significantly increase their chances of closing these leads, it also saves their sales team a lot of time that would otherwise be spent on following up and trying to make contact.
And aside from improving the sales process, it also benefits homeowners because they get to choose a date and time to meet that’s best for them, without having to play phone tag over the course of a few days/weeks.
If you aren’t leveraging technology like automated text messaging and appointment scheduling to grow your business, then you might not be growing as fast as you could be.
If you want to learn how you can implement a strategy like this for your business, along with other marketing strategies to help you scale, book a quick demo of our contractor marketing system today.
Ben is our Facebook Ads Specialist and is responsible for generating thousands of quality leads for our customers in the replacement & remodeling industries. When he’s not busy launching new campaigns, he squeezes in time to write helpful posts on the Webrunner blog.