When homeowners have an HVACR need, 80 to 90 percent begin their search for a provider on the Internet. Braving the wilds of the web, they’ll click and click, scroll and scroll, evaluating the appeal of you and your competition to find the best provider for their job.
But between the time they start searching, and the time they pick up the phone to call a provider, homeowners can engage in a complex set of online behaviors with which most HVACR contractors are not terribly familiar.
Usually, these homeowner behaviors fall into five distinct personality types. Each personality goes through a different process before they make a purchasing decision.
Knowing how to appeal to these personalities is the first step to making sure they pick up the phone. Their online behavior is the key to generating fantastic leads.
Straight Arrows are your favorite customers. They know what they want and they’re ready to buy. They’re strong decision-makers and are guided by intuition. You love them the most because they make fast choices.
Typically, time is the most valuable commodity for Straight Arrows. Both members of the home usually work full time jobsand their children are equally busy with extra-curricular activities. This means they literally don’t have the time for a lengthy consultation. They want a friction-free process and they want it NOW. This is particularly true when Straight Arrows have a heating emergency — their schedules don’t allow for it.
This also holds true for non-emergency products and services such as a furnace replacement or a new AC unit installation. Straight Arrows make decisions quickly — even for higher ticket projects. It’s not that they need these projects done immediately, it’s that they don’t have weeks to audition three or four providers before making a choice. Straight Arrows are trying to cut the process down ahead of time by zeroing in on a quality provider first, not play a host of HVACR companies against one another.
For Straight Arrows, the process needs to be as hassle-free as possible. When they’re on your website, they’ll look for your contact information, web form and other elements to see how easy it is to work with you.
Make it as easy as possible. When the phone rings, answer it. When they submit a form to your site, call that homeowner right back.
The easier you make it, the more likely Straight Arrows are to buy what you’re selling. And the bonus? They aren’t looking for every last nickel. Often Straight Arrows are more interested in speed and convenience than the lowest possible price.
When a Reputation Detective comes across your website, the first thing they’re going to do is Google your company name. They will visit sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List and the BBB to look at your overall ratings and reviews. They’re looking for feedback from your customers, good or bad.
The Reputation Detective’s main objective is to understand what the experience will be like if they choose your company. They want to know what to expect. And they want to be sure they are going to hire an HVACR contractor who is going to solve their problem competently and completely.
As with Straight Arrows, they aren’t as concerned with getting the best price. They’re okay with spending, as long as they’re convinced you’re not going to scam them, or leave a job half done.
Trust is the most important quality to the Reputation Detective. To engage this personality, your website should show that you’re not a shoddy, fly-by-night operation. Include industry affiliations, certifications and testimonials. You want to show them you’re going to be around in five years and you’re still going to be the best HVACR contractor in the area.
The Product Geek relishes the opportunity to learn more. When they need a new HVACR system, they’re going to dig up as much information as possible. They likely have a never-ending parade of browser tabs open, comparing heating and cooling systems, brands and warranties.
Basically, they want to know the products as well as your sales reps do. And by offering as much information as possible on your website, you can satisfy their data needs. Product specifications, energy efficiency ratings and brands you carry are all important details to the Product Geek.
By adding the information the Product Geek craves, you’ll not only make it easier for them to get what they need, but you’ll also improve your search engine rankings. The idea is to keep them on your site as long as possible, so they’re more likely to pick up the phone or submit a contact form. And make sure your sales reps are prepared to talk shop with them.
We all know that the Internet is full of poor information, misinformation and errant legacy information that can confuse homeowners. But if you can be the beacon of information in a confusing online world, you’ll be better off for it.
Generally, it’s a bummer when prospects think about the price point first. These homeowners are difficult to set appointments with, difficult to sell to and difficult to close. But, even in a strong economy, Price Monsters are everywhere.
When this personality comes across your website, they only see dollar signs. They’re the ones searching with terms such as “cheap” and “affordable.” And while that comes off as price-obsessive, they’re actually more interested in the amount of money they’ll save by choosing you.
The challenge with Price Monsters doesn’t come from your products or your sales techniques, but from Google. When homeowners search for physical HVACR products, retail listings will display high on the search results page. So, they have first-hand knowledge of how much that replacement valve will cost, or how much a new AC unit is going for.
Of course, Price Monsters aren’t taking into account the installation, craftsmanship and design involved in building the system. Even so, they’ll often price condition themselves based on what they see on the search engine results pages (SERPs). So, it’s your job to communicate that those low-priced products deliver low quality results. You want to sell them on getting the best possible value.
You can do that a couple different ways. First, sell the value of the visit. There’s real value in the homeowner setting up an in-person consultation. Certainly some HVACR prospects will demand pricing over the phone, or at least a ballpark.
If you’re going to provide that information, at least wait to be asked. Many jobs can’t accurately be priced until a technician is on site. But once they’re in the home, your team can properly present the problem and the appropriate pricing, in-person.
Second, make strong offers on your website. You can do this with a coupon, a posted discount or as a carryover from your offline advertising. These hooks will grab Price Monsters and get them to call you. Remember, you’re not trying to sell based on your offer, you’re just trying to get a lead. Your sales team can take it from there.
Well-Wired homeowners are the fastest growing group out of all the personalities. They do their fair share of online research, but they approach it a different way. When they come across your company, they’ll go straight to their social networks and poll their friends and followers.
It usually looks something like this: a homeowner gets on Facebook or Twitter and writes, “Have any of you ever used XYZ for HVACR repair?” People will respond helpfully — “I’ve heard good things” or “My brother used them, their system works great.”
In short, Well-Wired homeowners want real-time feedback from people they know and trust.
Well-Wired homeowners will also check out your social media presence and might even try to engage. They’re active Facebook and Twitter users, and they’ll evaluate your company based on your posts. They want to know you’re active and interested in using this platform of communication. They want to have something in common with you.
Well-Wired homeowners are typically younger. As time moves on, they will become a higher percentage of lead types. So, it’s a good idea to get started on using social media to target prospective customers. Keep those feeds fresh, positive and active.
The one great thing about marketing to homeowners is that they’ve already made the decision on some level to improve their HVACR systems. The key to getting good leads is to give your potential customers what they want, so they can make the right choice.
If you can give your sales team a better understanding of what their prospects are doing online, they’re going to be more successful when selling your services in the home. Then, you can watch the magic happen.
This article originally appeared on www.HVACRBusiness.com.