By Gregg Hicks, Vice President at Modernize.
When it comes to solar panel installation, the rise of COVID-19 means 54% of solar-seeking homeowners are not willing to meet with a contractor inside their home these days, according to an in-house study conducted by Modernize. However, 29% of those homeowners would be interested in meeting virtually. Though this changes the tenor of the estimate and installation process, it should not be a detriment to converting online leads into clients — and it could be a boon to business.
Converting Online Leads to Sales
When the initial contact with a potential customer is made, COVID-19 should be addressed early on. It shows that you are thoughtful about the present situation and that you want to protect the homeowner as well as your team. Keep these three points in mind:
- Make calls right away. By the time a person calls with questions about your services, chances are good they are ready to begin their project. Now that more people are at home, they likely have more time to research. Stay right on top of your call centers and take advantage of the customer’s momentum by calling them back as soon as that lead comes through. Research shows that 88% of leads that convert were contacted within the first 24 hours. Have a script ready to answer any questions the homeowner might have about how the process works in the time of COVID-19.
- Make a strong connection. Part of a successful quoting process is making everyone feel as comfortable as possible, which means keeping communication as normal as possible. Get familiar with mediums of technology you might not have used frequently in the past, such as text messaging, Google Hangouts and Zoom calls. Today, with more people at home, a virtual meeting can get all the decision-makers together quickly and easily, thus potentially leading to a faster sale.
- Have a plan. The customer should feel safe, but so should the installers. Now is the time to outline new considerations in the contract, such as the use of a portable toilet for installers instead of using the bathroom in the house. Look closely at the property and the homeowner’s habits — for instance, do they often use a path alongside the house that your installers will need access to? Ask the homeowner to avoid that area to minimize interaction, and thus potential exposure to coronavirus, during the installation. Planning the install step-by-step and communicating it very well can help the homeowner envision what will happen during the process.
Research for quote preparation
You can’t seal the deal without a good quote, and you can’t produce a quote without actually seeing the home. You will still do that, but the process must change somewhat. Follow these steps:
- Clarify location. Start with software designed to get the job done. The right tools designed for solar contractors can create digital proposals with embedded estimates based on the home’s address, taking into account factors such as sun exposure, ramp and the like.
- Ask specific questions. How old is the house? How old is the roof? Are there any trees near the house — and if so, where? And how far away are they? Asking specific, preliminary, questions will allow the homeowner to provide you with additional details about their unique project.
- On-site walk-around. Though you can get basic information from the software and the homeowner, you will still need to have a look at the home. Wearing a mask and keeping an adequate social distance from the homeowner is best. You may also suggest that the homeowner stay in their home and simply speak with you through video chat while you walk around the house. Doing a walkthrough via video allows you to show the homeowner what you’re looking at, such as that branch that might need to be cut or that shed roof that might handle a few panels.
Ultimately, this unique time requires slowing down and being more thoughtful. Many contractors are always pressed for time, trying to do a million things at once, and the wrench thrown into the works by COVID-19 can seem like a hassle.
It is important to remember that homeowners like to see someone taking great care with their interactions; that is why contractors who are looking ahead, taking more precautions, and communicating those changes to the homeowner are actually seeing their close rates go up. Homeowners recognize and respect that contractors are trying to keep solar clients safe, and they respond to that care by giving you their business.
Gregg Hicks is VP of Modernize, a source for informational guides to empower homeowners to get home improvement projects done.