The Basics of Selling Home Services Online
Why be shackled to free estimates during business hours when you can get paid 24/7/365? This article explores the basic concepts of how to sell more home services online like never before.
To remain relevant and healthy, your residential services business must continue to find ways to better engage, connect, and convert prospects into customers. The more customers, the more revenue. The more revenue/profit, the more possibilities, and freedom you and your business can achieve.
The home services industry is, however, stuck in the past by relying on clunky requests for free estimates via antiquated web forms that add little value outside of providing a virtual introduction. We believe the complacency needs to end and that it’s time to evolve this experience into a new paradigm of e-commerce for the home services industry. An experience that better connects home service companies with homeowners. One that enables our businesses to accurately estimate, sell, and cross our services the same way other companies sell their products online.
The first step in this journey is understanding that we need to marry the way we have traditionally acquired leads with the ways we have priced and delivered our services. This article strives to unpack that marriage and boil down how Click to Buy Services can allow your company to sell more home services like never before.
Let’s start with what we know.
Option 1: Free Estimates
We’re all familiar with clunky, free estimates. They’re the generic web forms that live online and capture the essential information necessary to start a conversation. Free estimates have served a purpose historically. In hindsight though, they cost our businesses a lot of money due to their lack of sophistication and increased operational overhead associated with the follow-up, communications, sending trucks on the roads, and more.
We won’t spend too much time here, but will say quickly – we believe there is a better way AND also that there are times when requesting a free estimate does make sense.
How Click to Buy Helps with Free Estimates
Click to Buy Servies is an elegant solution to help slowly transition your services from free estimates to online purchases. By design, every service that is available for purchase within Click to Buy’s shopping cart also provides a homeowner with the ability to request an estimate instead. Homeowners can choose to “Request an Estimate” or “Buy and Schedule Now” giving them a choice to proceed in whichever way they feel most comfortable pursuing. As discussed in the Click to Buy Guiding Principles, providing options is an important part of bridging the gap between the services we sell and how homeowners want to buy from us – the option to buy vs estimate is the first of many.
In those cases where selling a service online is not appropriate or not possible, the homeowner will always be presented with the option to complete a request form.
Option 2: Paid Estimates
Paid estimates fall into the category of diagnostics. A specialist is required to visit a home and provide an inspection to determine what the issue is and then provide a recommendation on the best next steps. In some mechanical industries (e.g. plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc.), paid visits and/or upfront diagnostic charges get applied to any additional required work are the norm.
Historically, the process of a homeowner understanding that a paid estimate is required starts by filling out the “requests for estimate” form online. This creates a lot of inefficiencies for both the homeowner and the service business. Emails and/or phone calls are required to explain the process, how it is a paid service, and what is required.
How Click to Buy Helps with Paid Estimates
It is a waste of time for both homeowners and businesses to go through the process of requesting free estimates when diagnostic prices are known. The business & pricing model doesn’t need to change, but the inefficiencies inherent to how the service is procured do.
In most cases, even though a price is known by trade organizations, the use of the general request form has become a catchall for all requests. To remedy this, Click to Buy allows businesses to separate out their services and provide a custom approach for each. Where the price is known, diagnostic services can be easily sold, those that are more complicated can be calculated, and those that do require a custom estimate can be submitted as such.
It’s a win/win
When diagnostic prices are known and can be easily purchased everyone wins. Homeowners save time and energy. Home services businesses save time, money, and get paid first.
Option 3: One-Time Paid Services
One-time paid services are demand services that are delivered one time, for a fixed cost. Home services that fall into this category include one-time:
- pest control services – mosquito fogging, exterior animal control, flea & tick treatment, ant control, etc.;
- lawn services – lawn/leaf clean up, fertilization, bed mulching, tree trimming, etc.;
- exterior cleaning services – power washing, gutter cleaning, & window washing;
- electrical services – installation of switches, outlets, ceiling fans, hot tub power, etc.;
- plumbing services – drain cleaning, toilet repair/installation, garbage disposal repair/installation, etc.
- pool services – cleaning, service, & repair;
- HVAC services – installation & tune-ups;
- and beyond…
How Click to Buy Helps with One-time Paid Services
We believe every home service business has one-time paid services that can be calculated and purchased online. These services are some of the easiest to get up and running within Click to Buy which makes the transition to selling home services online a breeze. As an added benefit, homeowners are very familiar and comfortable with one-time transactions as it mirrors the process they are used to when buying products online. As such, with Click to Buy Services it is normal to see your online purchase of one-time demand services increase very quickly after they are launched.
Option 4: Recurring Demand Services
Recurring demand services are paid services that repeat over a certain period of time. In the home services industry, the recurring services model has traditionally been applied to services that require recurring treatments (e.g. pest control, lawn mowing, pool cleaning, etc.) and in most cases have an annual service agreement.
Recurring services are incredibly important as they can help your home services company:
- build more predictable revenue & profits (as mentioned);
- more easily predict, plan, and forecast;
- keep your specialists consistently busy & heads down (hurray for job security!);
- predictably grow and hire;
- take greater risks;
- build deeper/longer relationships with the homeowners we serve; and
- improve brand loyalty with homeowners who receive a consistently positive experience.
In our minds, recurring home services are the holy grail of any service industry because, well, the revenue and delivery consistently repeat. Dennis Jenkins, from ABC Home & Commercial, once equated building a business of recurring services to “stacking nickels” – little by little your stack grows into a very profitable and stable business, free from the ups & downs and the peaks & valleys of traditional project-based businesses.
In recent years everything from blockbuster entertainment to grocery delivery is pushing homeowners to a recurring, subscription model. We believe it’s about time the home service industry caught up.
How Click to Buy Helps with Recurring Services
One of Click to Buy’s strengths is helping home service businesses accurately facilitate the estimation and purchase of recurring services online. The transition online is very straightforward to build and can streamline the checkout process for homeowners who are super busy, want options, and are already familiar with the recurring charges & delivery of home services.
Click to Buy empowers home service owners to turn traditional non-recurring services into profitable, recurring service offerings. Examples might include:
- annual flea & tick control programs;
- annual tree trimming;
- semi-annual HVAC checkups & cleaning;
- quarterly power washing & window cleaning; and
- annual cleaning & tune-ups of appliances.
In addition, beyond expanding one-time services into recurring programs, Click to Buy Services also enables home service companies to deliver services in any cadence and provide flexible payment options that include:
- monthly services payments;
- quarterly services payments;
- semi-annual service payments, and/or;
- annually recurring service payments.
This flexibility unlocks countless ways to package, distribute and collect for your catalog of services and do such in a way that homeowners understand and appreciate.
Why Click to Buy?
Click to Buy Services is the only solution that allows homeowners to add all of these options into one elegant shopping experience. When homeowners can easily bundle free estimates with paid and recurring services, they will buy more and will have a great first experience with your organization. The rest is up to your team to fulfill.
With this greater understanding of how to sell home services, it is now time to be courageous. We must endeavor to bridge the gap between how we can sell our services and how homeowners want to buy them. We must understand that e-commerce for home services is the future for our industry and only through the evolution from free estimates to e-commerce can we get paid first, increase revenue, and build deeper, longer, and more intentional relationships with our customers.
Additional resources that might help you on your journey:
- The Guiding Principles of Selling Home Services Online
- The Transition – A Guide to Selling Home Services Online
- Building Your Transition Team
If you’re interested in learning more or having a conversation to see if Click to Buy Services might be a good fit for your company, please reach out. We’d love to chat.