Learning Center

Online Lead Generation Marketing for the Home Improvement Industry

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Generating leads is not a new concept in marketing. After all, as a business owner, you aim to generate leads constantly. With the coming age of digital media, a new approach to garnering business has created the online lead generation industry—allowing businesses to reach larger amounts of potential clients faster and more efficiently.

If you are a service pro or own a business in the home improvement industry, generating leads is one of the most important aspects of generating business. To set yourself apart from your competitors, the use of a lead generation service can be extremely beneficial in bringing in revenue.

Here are a few reasons why online lead generation is a marketing vehicle to consider:

  1. A higher conversion rate of driving sales when compared to telemarketing or out-bound cold calling
  2. Businesses can track,  localize, and filter prospective clients based on the services needed
  3. Pay for performance model allows for a low-cost and cost effective online marketing tool when compared to more traditional forms of marketing such as print ads, radio and television commercials

Tips for looking for the right lead generation service:

  1. Partner with a company that guarantees that there is no charge unless you actually quote on a project
  2. Look for a company that provides an easy and quick credit back policy
  3. Be sure to engage with a company that has unique channels for driving highly qualified potential customers to your specific area(s) of expertise
  4. Verify the maximum number of vendors sent for each request made by a client.  There should not be more than 3 sent for any one request
  5. Check the references from other vendors to understand their return investment from working with that specific lead generation company

It is important to do your homework when selecting one or more online lead generation companies to work with.

___________________________________________________________________________________

About iSearchDecor:

iSearchDecor is a referral service that provides home service professionals and companies involved with home improvement and home furnishings highly qualified client referrals. Client referrals are generated from partnerships with real estate agents and other companies involved in the real estate industry. Vendors can “Accept” or “Decline” to quote on each project before paying for the referral.

Visit www.isearchdecor.com/business for more information or call 855.774.7327.

Quick Business Productivity Tips

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Business owners often find themselves pressed for time. The importance of efficiency in daily tasks is crucial in order to  produce results that add to the bottom line.

Follow these tips to to maximize your efficiency and profitability:

AUTOMATE EVERYTHING

  • Automate emails when following up with clients by create templates for situations that you regularly run across. This way you will not waste time drafting new emails each time you need to respond to a supplier, client or employee.

STAY ORGANIZED

  • Create an easily recognizable filing system that utilizes labels and places the most used documents up front.
  • For more information on how to create an effective filing system, visit http://www.smead.com/hot-topics/filing-system-1396.asp

USE A DROPBOX TO SHARE FILES

  • Dropbox makes it easy for you and your employees to share and retrieve documents and files electronically. This service is free and enables you to create a centralized location for all of your documents, photos or videos.  You and your employees can access and share files without the hassle of reaching out to one another to obtain them.
  • For more information on how to create a drop box, visit:  https://www.dropbox.com/

MAKE A SCHEDULE EACH DAY / WEEK

  • When creating a schedule, place revenue-generating activities early in the day while you are fresh and alert
  • Place administrative tasks later in the day since they do not contribute directly to the bottom line.

________________________________________________________________________________

About iSearchDecor:

iSearchDecor is a referral service that provides home service professionals and companies involved with home improvement and home furnishings highly qualified client referrals. Client referrals are generated from partnerships with real estate agents and other companies involved in the real estate industry.

Visit www.isearchdecor.com/business for more information or call 855.774.7327.

Free Link Building Directories to Help Your Search Engine Rankings

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Information Courtesy of HubSpot

Links are a top metric that search engines use to determine your ranking.  Free directories are one way to get your business noticed and a way to get more inbound links to your website.

Below is a list of top link building directories that are FREE!

Local Directories

Loopt.com

Localeze.com

Biglocal.com

Openlist.com

Outside.in

BOTW.org/top/Regional/United_States

Superpages.com

Search Engine Local Business Listings:

Yahoo.com

Google.com

Bing.com

Getlisted.org (to double check if you’ve been listed)

Blog Directories

DoFollowBlogs.com

PlaceBlogger.com

Bloglines.com

Blogsearch.Google.com

Technorati.com

Blogged.com

Blogcatalog.com

Blogmarks.net

MyBlogLog.com

Zimbio.com

Review and Rating Directories:

Yelp.com

Rateitall.com

InsiderPages.com

About iSearchDecor:

iSearchDecor offers a FREE personal concierge service to assist homeowners in finding furniture, décor, flooring, window coverings, painters, cabinet refinishers and more with special savings. Contact 480-619-5505 or visit www.isearchdecor.com for FREE assistance today! Vendors interested in applying to join our exclusive business network please contact us at info@isearchdecor.com. We are currently servicing Phoenix/Scottsdale and Dallas.  We are actively seeking vendors for San Antonio and Austin.

How To Avoid Grievances for the Home Improvement Contractor

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

TOPIC:  GRIEVANCES AND COMPLAINTS

Client grievances and complaints can usually be avoided with open lines of communication.  Although there may be the occasional client that you cannot please no matter what you do, in MOST cases, situations can be diffused with regularly scheduled updates and a project walk through.  With today’s ease of distributing negative feedback through social media and online rating services, home improvement contractors need to be especially concerned about what is written about them.

Ways to keep grievances to a minimum:

  • Create a clear, concise project proposal that is signed by both parties
  • Formally document all changes requested by client
  • Have regularly scheduled project update sessions to discuss status
  • If any changes occur to deliverable timeline, communicate this immediately to client
  • Always under-promise and over-deliver.  Provide a buffer for delivery dates given to you by third parties.
  • Be clear on days you will be at the property. Quickly communicate any changes prior to the effected date.

STRONG RECOMMENDATION:

Include any language related to payment for final drawings, floor plans, sample boards, etc. in the original proposal.  Explain at what point payment is expected even if the project does not materialize.

About iSearchDecor

iSearchDecor offers a FREE personal concierge service to assist homeowners in finding furniture, décor, flooring, window coverings, painters, cabinet refinishers and more with special savings. Contact 480-619-5505 or visit www.isearchdecor.com for FREE assistance today!  Vendors interested in applying to join our exclusive business network please contact us at info@isearchdecor.com. We are currently servicing Phoenix/Scottsdale and Dallas.  We are actively seeking vendors for San Antonio and Austin.

Related Articles:

How to Write a Project Proposal for the Home Improvement Contractor

The Importance of Documenting Change Orders for the Home Improvement Contractor

Return to Business Landing Page

The Importance of Documenting Change Orders for the Home Improvement Contractor

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

TOPIC:  CHANGE ORDERS

Let’s talk about the importance of issuing a Change Order in the home improvement environment.  Taking the time to document changes requested by a Client may be easy to overlook and may seem too cumbersome and time consuming, but in the long run it will actually save both parties time and frustration.

Recently, a vendor partner in the iSearchDecor home décor/home improvement business network encountered a situation that could easily have been circumvented had a Change Order been submitted to the client.

REAL LIFE SITUATION:

  • Client hired our vendor partner to paint the interior of the home.
  • Client selected the paint colors for each room.
  • Vendor partner proceeded to paint the rooms.
  • Client proceeded to change the color 5 times in 5 different rooms of the house.
  • With each color change, the vendor partner also had the laborious task of re-taping baseboards and windows and edging ceilings.
  • As the result, vendor partner incurred additional costs in paint and supplies.
  • Upon the conclusion, the vendor partner submitted a bill to the Client for $1,800 to cover the cost of labor and supplies.
  • Client refused to pay for the changes stating that they had no idea they would be billed for the changes and that this should have been explained to them prior to making the changes.

BOTTOM LINE:

A Change Order would have allowed the vendor partner to clearly detail the work involved with each color change and the additional cost that would be incurred as the result.  It would have also given the Client the ability to clearly understand the charges and their commitment to pay them.

STRONG RECOMMENDATION:  Take the time to STOP.  Think about what the Client is asking and how this will affect the original proposal or work order.  If the change causes significant rework or the purchase of additional supplies, create a Change Order for the project.  You may end up with multiple Change Orders before the project has been completed, but that is completely acceptable.

Samples of a Change Order template can be found at the following websites:

https://www.elance.com/p/corporate/community/resource-center/contract-change-order.html

http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/Web/SampleChangeOrder.htm

About iSearchDecor:

iSearchDecor offers a FREE personal concierge service to assist homeowners in finding furniture, décor, flooring, window coverings, painters, cabinet refinishers and more with special savings. Contact 480-619-5505 or visit www.isearchdecor.com for FREE assistance today! Vendors interested in applying to join our exclusive business network please contact us at info@isearchdecor.com. We are currently servicing Phoenix/Scottsdale and Dallas.  We are actively seeking vendors for San Antonio and Austin.

Related Articles:

How to Write a Project Proposal for the Home Improvement Contractor

How to Avoid Grievances for the Home Improvement Contractor

Return to Business Landing Page

How to Write an Effective Project Proposal for the Home Improvement Contractor

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

TOPIC:  CONTRACTOR PROPOSALS

Contractor Proposals are a necessary part of any home improvement project.  There are key components to a Contractor Proposal that should be included to cover your business as well as clearly explain the services rendered for the Client.

The key components are:

  • Name and Contact Information for the Client
  • Physical address of the property where the work is to be completed
  • Specify each task to be performed in as much detail as possible.  Allowances can be included if specific costs are not known at the time the Proposal is written.  Client should know that if they exceed the allowance, they are responsible to pay the difference.
  • Include deliverable timelines (Always add more time to your estimate. It is better to under-promise and over-deliver.)
  • Clearly state in the proposal that if any substantive changes are made to the work described in the proposal once the work has begun, a Change Order will be issued with the new related costs.
  • Articulate that any changes to the original proposal may result in a change in the final deliverable schedule.
  • State payment terms (initial deposit,  amounts due based on completion of milestones, final payment due upon final walk through)
  • If creating drawings or sample boards, clearly articulate when payment is expected for final versions.
  • Have a place for Client and vendor to sign proposal.

REAL LIFE SITUATION:

A vendor partner in the iSearchDecor home décor/home improvement business network created initial diagrams of kitchen cabinetry as a part of her project proposal.  The Client called the vendor partner and asked her to drop everything, create the final drawings and create a final proposal based on the final drawings.

The vendor partner of course did as she was instructed, and spent the next 3 days completing final drawings and obtaining final pricing on the custom cabinetry.

After the final drawings and final pricing had been submitted to Client, the Client decided not to proceed with the project.  The vendor partner was devastated, and decided to send the Client an invoice for the final drawings.

The Client refused to pay the invoice for the final drawings since there was no language regarding a payment for final drawings in the original project proposal.

STRONG RECOMMENDATION:

Include any language related to payment for final drawings, floor plans, sample boards, etc. in the original proposal.  Explain at what point payment is expected even if the project does not materialize.

Contractor Proposal Templates can be found at the following websites:

http://www.printe-z.com/proposal-forms.html

http://www.ezdatasoft.com/contractor-proposal-form.htm

About iSearch Decor

iSearchDecor offers lead generation service to vendors in the furniture, home decor, professional home services, and home renovation/remodeling categories. Contact 480-619-5505 or visit www.isearchdecor.com/business for information on how iSearchDecor can provide visibility to qualified potential buyers for your business. Vendors interested in applying to join our exclusive business network please contact us at info@isearchdecor.com. We are currently servicing Phoenix/Scottsdale and Dallas.  We are actively seeking vendors for San Antonio and Austin.

Other related articles

The Importance of Documenting Change Orders for the Home Improvement Contractor

How to Avoid Grievances for the Home Improvement Contractor

Return to Business Landing Page

Building Your Business Image

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

There are many factors that go into ensuring a business can maximize sales and become successful.  Much of a company’s success comes in the form of marketing as well as increasing awareness of the products and services available.  With the help of today’s Internet capabilities, this is easier now than ever before.

If marketing is done correctly, the image of a business becomes recognizable to consumers.  When they have needs it is more likely products and services will be bought from that company over that of competitors.  There are several things that can be done to increase awareness.

  • Figure Out Who Your Buyers Are And How Best To Serve Their Needs- Regardless of the products or services offered, if you have no idea who is buying, chances are you will not be able to take advantage of many opportunities available.  It’s important to remember that the needs of the target market change over time so reevaluating the group periodically is essential to continued success.
  • Reevaluate Past And Ongoing Marketing Strategies – It’s important to continually evaluate not only marketing strategies that have been effective, but those that haven’t as well.  This would include such things as customer service which can build strong customer loyalty, sales, incentives, advertising, and anything else that has created either positive or negative customer response then do what works.
  • Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Marketing Techniques – Many companies today are jumping on the web bandwagon.  The reason is it has opened a whole new realm of possibilities where marketing is concerned.  The newest sites are what are called social media websites and include many such as Facebook and Twitter.  Many customers are now eager to seek products and services through this venue.
  • Marketing and Advertising Are Not The Same Thing – Marketing and advertising have two things in common; they get the attention of consumers and raise awareness about products and services, but that’s where their similarity ends.  Marketing includes the things that are done that keep customers loyal and bring them back again and again.  Information that will help businesses to find out more about the target market can be achieved through surveys, fairs, events, and even online.  Advertising, on the other hand, is to let people know about a specific product or service.  This would include a guerilla marketing technique called blitzing which can be achieved with the use of writing articles for newspapers, the web, or for distribution directly to prior customers.
  • Do the Research – It does no good to come up with great ideas if you don’t have the money to support plans so you must know where you stand financially at all times.  Additionally, if you know what’s selling well, you are way ahead of many businesses.  This not only includes investigating trends in other companies through the web, newspapers, magazines, and other media sources, but also knowing what your customers need and why they are looking for you to help.
  • Continue to Pull Out All The Stops – When businesses initially open they flood the market with coupons and other incentives to get people into their shops or to pick up the telephone.  However, as time goes by they forget that this was a great way to get people interested in the first place.  This strategy continues to be effective long-term so don’t hesitate to pull out all the stops and continue to reward the loyalty of returning customers with discounts and incentives.

With a clear business identity and recognizable image, customers will not only seek you out, but will turn to you again and again when they have a need because they know you will find a way to fill it.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

iSearchDécor is the  premier, free referral service for those seeking the perfect match to local home décor hidden gems stores and home service professionals. Exclusive savings are offered to the users of the iSearchDecor service. Visit us for all of your home decor needs at www.isearchdecor.com.

Tips for Surviving a Tough Economy

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Business requires some sort of guidance in order to prosper.  This is often known as the 5 -year strategic business plan.  This plan is updated annually to reflect changes in philosophy as well as actual outcomes as the business grows, but is often forgotten when the economy gets tough.  When plans written in a different economic atmosphere do not continue to guide businesses when economic conditions are poor, it is time to sit down and develop an alternate plan to ensure survival under the most adverse conditions.

Businesses can not only survive a recession, they can often thrive if the mindset reflects an understanding of how market economies change during this time.  For instance, this is the time when buyers have the greatest advantage; therefore, businesses need to be able to adapt at an incredible pace.  It’s easy to fall into a “wait and see” mentality, however, no one really knows when or even if the economy will recover to the point it was just a couple of years ago so it’s time to create a new plan.

What helps a business survive during a recession is customer loyalty and satisfaction.  With this in mind, then, creating a “recession-proof strategic marketing plan” will help any business weather the storm.  Here are few things to keep in mind as you find key factors that will help your business survive:

  • Refine and redefine. You need to rethink your priorities.  Buyers have the power right now and that includes you.  If you were thinking of buying new equipment 2 to 3 years down the road and have the cash now, it’s the best time to buy as businesses even you buy from are often willing to negotiate.  If your cash-flow right now is low you need to think of ways you can conserve without impacting the elements that keep your business thriving; like customer satisfaction and loyalty.  If cash flow is an issue it might be time to consider taking on a partner or joining forces with another business.
  • Review. Really sit down and evaluate every aspect of your business and figure out what’s profitable and what’s a “millstone around your neck.”  You need to decide if the things that aren’t working can be redeveloped in order to make them generate income.  If you have some products or services that lose money, but keep customers coming back then as long as you’re compensated monetarily by the other purchases they do make, keep them.  Remember if you have no customers, you have no business.
  • Strategize. Whether you are a leader in your market, a follower, or someone who challenges the norms, you need to develop a strategy that will work during economic downturns.  If you’re a market leader and you have the capital you can survive by providing the best price.  If you’re a follower you can survive by picking only the best products and components that work for other businesses similar to your own.  And, if you love to challenge the norms, although you may have the most difficulty adjusting during an economic crisis, you can survive if you’re able to put the capital up to sway consumers to your way of thinking.
  • Evaluate. Analyze all aspects of your business from the point of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.  If you can lure consumers from competitors, that’s an opportunity.  Changes in interest rates or the value of the dollar is a threat.  If you have leaders in your business that can motivate and challenge others when times get tough, it’s a strength.  And, if those in leadership positions fold under the pressure during tough times, it’s a weakness.
  • Set Daily Objectives. You need to know daily how your business is doing.  This is not just your profit margin, but also payables, receivables, inventory, orders, sales, bids, and the number of calls received from potential clients.  The only way to know where you stand and be able to adjust at any given moment is to stay on top of things.  It may take a little more work, but will help you adapt quickly in the end.

Out of all the measures of business success, the only one that’s really reliable, regardless of the economy, is customer loyalty, engagement, and satisfaction.  The philosophy behind this thinking is simple, the more loyal the customers, the harder it is for the competition to steal them.  Not only are customer relations built on logic, but on the depth of emotional connections, as well.  This, however, goes beyond how much customers like you.  They must also be “engaged” with you.  If they stop by for your free coffee and a chat, but buy nothing, they are not engaged.  Research shows there is a strong tie between customer engagement and future growth so make the most of what you have and keep your customer base strong as well as engaged.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

iSearchDécor is the nation’s premier, free, online referral service for those seeking the perfect match to local home décor hidden gems stores and home service professionals. Exclusive savings are offered to the users of the iSearchDecor website. Visit us for all of your home decor needs at www.isearchdecor.com. Coming soon to Tucson, Dallas and Southern California.

Tips for Creating a Business Growth Plan

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

Many business owners know that when economic times get tough they must adapt in order to survive.  Although this is understood on an analytical level, many business owners are unsure as to how to achieve this goal.  When one charts and implements a growth plan it can not only save a business, but also lead it into a growing asset.  Following are some simple strategies for how to achieve this goal:

  • Narrow the target market – It’s better to sell a lot of things to a few people than to try to please everyone.  A successful business in a tough economy requires the ability to identify a select market then ensure that all of their needs can be fulfilled within your limited framework.
  • Use market research as a guide – Watch for sales trends in similar fields then don’t be afraid to duplicate successes.  By ensuring all your customers’ needs are met at your business location it’s easier to get them to do their one-stop-shopping with you.
  • Be willing to expand your product/service base – The object is to expand your sales base for a targeted audience.  In order to ensure that all your customer needs are met at a single location this may mean that you need to reevaluate your existing product/service line.  If the customers are running from store-to-store in order to have all their needs met, you may need to bring on additional key products that you don’t currently carry.
  • Know your customers well – Nothing brings customers back faster than the knowledge that they are well-known to a business.  This means knowing their names, tastes, etc., which is easy to access if you keep an up-to-date database on prospective, new, and especially repeat customers.  Contacting them periodically with newsletters, cards, and flyers will keep you at the forefront of their minds, as well, when the time comes for them to buy.
  • Develop a systematic approach – This is the only way to find and tap into new markets as the economy continues to change; but, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time.  It takes some time, but in the end it will save you thousands.  The four steps are to 1) determine the market, 2) do your research, 3) decide what to add or subtract from your existing product/service line, and 4) make the change.
  • Determine a strategy or devise a plan that will make it happen – Make sure you set reasonable goals and expectations that will ensure success.  Without this your business may become vulnerable to competition and/or continued swings in market trends.
  • Be ready to change gears on a moment’s notice – Remember that your customers determine market trends not you.  If your customers’ needs change then you need to be ready to change with them and, in a tough economy, this can happen with little notice.  Flexibility will be the key to your success.
  • Become knowledgeable about the competition – By doing some research to find out what the competition is doing it’s easier to discover how you can fill customer needs while saving them time and money.  That will definitely have a positive impact on your customer base.  Becoming familiar with your competition as well as your target market, the easier it is to identify your niche in the current market.

Business is an industry that is built on change.  The trick is to anticipate changes in the market then take advantage of opportunities as they arise.  When times are tough it becomes increasingly important to be able to demonstrate flexibility as well as forward thinking in order to ensure your business not only survives, but grows regardless of the economy.  A growth strategy is specifically designed to ensure your progressive thinking is strategically planned.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

iSearchDécor is the home decor industry’s premier, free, online referral service for those seeking to connect with local home décor hidden gems stores and home service professionals. Exclusive savings are offered to the users of the iSearchDecor website. Visit us for all of your home decor needs at www.isearchdecor.com. Coming soon to Tucson, Dallas, Houston and Southern California.

How To Get Through The Holidays and Come Out Ahead

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

This year is challenging business owners more than any other year, but there is a way to survive and actually come out ahead when totals are counted at the end of the year.  It’s important to remember that consumers’ belts have been tightened almost to the point of cutting off air supply and even during those really great sales many people are walking away with only one or two items.  This trend will last for awhile because even as the economy recovers, many are still going to be fearful of spending too much in case it collapses again.

In business a positive outlook can go a long way.  If business owners are fearful that negativity will translate to the customers making them reluctant buyers.  However, this does not have to be the case if one is creative, resourceful, and understands that during the holidays, sales must be approached with an, “It’s all about you,” attitude.  Now is the time to gear up, fuel up, and start your engines.

Here are a few tips as to how to get through the holidays with a smile on your face and a spring in your step:

  • A positive attitude is contagious: When customers see you’re positive, professional, and eager to put the customer’s needs first, it will inspire confidence.  Even if the majority of business is done on the web, by utilizing a webcam and ensuring you’re put together before you get online, your positive attitude will sway reluctant buyers.
  • Let them know you care: The majority of consumers want to know that you care not only about their needs, but about the environment as well.  Anything that will save money through energy efficiency as well as ensure eco-friendly products sell better today than ever before.  Consumers care and you should too.
  • Give them a ‘bang for their buck': Anytime discounts can be offered through packages that ultimately save consumers money will be more enticing than having them purchase elements individually.  But remember, they often have to be convinced that, although initially more expensive, it will save time and money in the long-run.
  • Remember we live in a culturally diverse world: Inherent in every culture are morals, behaviors, and social mores that are unique to them.  It’s important to be aware of those conventions so missteps are not inadvertently made.
  • It’s all about them: They are the buyer.  They have needs that you are trying to fulfill.  They look to you for solutions, but the bottom line is that it’s all about them.  They want to not only hear that you care, but how it will affect them personally.
  • If you work with others, make them want to work with you: Employee and partner loyalty go a long way in the business world.  It directly reflects the relationship you have with your customers.  If employees and partners are happy, generally, customers will be too.  Therefore, create an environment that says, “I’m glad you’re here.”  This generates loyalty that will see you through the difficult times when the economy sinks.
  • Get to know your customers: Customers want to know they are important and stand out.  It’s not that difficult to take two seconds to ask a customer, “How’s the family?”  Regardless of what’s said later the customer will appreciate the fact that you remembered they even have a family.  As a result, customers will turn to you first when seeking new services and products.

Although it’s a difficult time of the year for many, simple techniques will help a company survive and thrive during the holiday allowing them to enter the New Year with a positive outlook for the future.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

iSearchDécor is the nation’s premier, free, online referral service for those seeking the perfect match to local home décor hidden gems stores and home service professionals. Exclusive savings are offered to the users of the iSearchDecor website. Visit us for all of your home decor needs at www.isearchdecor.com. Coming soon to Tucson, Dallas and Southern California.