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The construction and home improvements sector is at a bit of a crossroads.
Rising house prices mean that homeowners need to find a way of creating additional space without moving home, creating an ideal opportunity for builders to grow their business. But under-qualified and opportunistic scam artists have left millions out of pocket and created real anxiety among homeowners about getting scammed.
On top of this, the digital age means that competition is higher than ever for construction jobs. Potential clients are more likely to seek out a company for their loft conversion or home extensions on the internet than they are to find one through word of mouth.
For legitimate construction businesses, trying to stand out can feel like an uphill battle. But the answer is actually a lot simpler than it seems: customer care.
Providing and evidencing the highest possible levels of customer service throughout your building work can be the magic bullet that sets you apart from your competitors. Check out our top tips for demonstrating top-quality customer care in home improvements.
I. Prove your expertise
Did you know that one-third of UK homeowners avoid having home improvements done because they’re worried about accidentally hiring a cowboy builder? This represents £10 billion worth of construction work that legitimate companies are losing out on. Convincing these nervous homeowners to take the plunge is half the battle.
Ask yourself this: what does your legitimate company have that cowboy builders don’t? You know what you’re doing.
Your experience and technical know-how lets potential clients know that they’re hiring a professional, so make sure you’re demonstrating this from the get-go. Make sure you have a portfolio on your website, that you’re offering clients proper technical advice and can provide certification when asked!
II. Single point of contact
No homeowner wants to jump through hoops to communicate with the home improvements company they’ve hired. In fact, it’s one of the first things they’re told to look out for when trying to spot a scammer.
Building a relationship of trust with your clients is of utmost importance in alleviating their worries and providing the best possible customer care. You can’t do this if you’re not involved at every stage.
Where possible, ensure that your client is dealing with a single director or project manager for the duration of the home improvement works. This also helps communication between your workers—you’ll always know what’s going and stay in full control the whole time!
III. Offer guarantees
No matter how much your client wants to trust you, you can’t expect them to hire you on blind faith alone—in fact, they’d be foolish to do this at all! The more assurance you can give them that you won’t disappear after the work is complete, the better.
Whether this means writing it into the contract that you’ll fix any snags that show up within a defined period after sign-off, or offer a more comprehensive long-term warranty, guarantees provide a safety net for the client that could be the difference between you securing the work or not.
Becoming a member of the Federation of Master Builders, the UK’s largest trade organisation for the construction and home improvements sector, allows construction companies to offer extended warranties of up to ten years
Growing your construction business is no accident: it’s the result of hard work and building a relationship with your potential clients. Customer care really is more important than ever.
BIO: Refresh Interiors is a family-run home improvements company operating throughout Essex, Hertfordshire and North London.
Writing a creative brief that gets the ball rolling on a successful project involves initially asking questions.
Depending on the project you’re working on and the client you’re working for, there could be a lot that need answers before the final appearance of your brief starts to take shape. Start by answering these questions, and you’ll have a creative brief with the power to drive a complex through to its successful completion.
Solving the problem
What’s the problem you’re trying to solve? Just because something’s labelled as creative doesn’t mean it doesn’t involve problem solving. Your project is designed to solve something. A website isn’t getting enough leads to generate ROI. A company’s brand is out of date and they need to modernise or risk losing their place in the market.
The first thing you need to think about in your brief is: what problem is it that I’m trying to solve? There’s a reason why companies as successful as HubSpot think in this way.
Research your audience
What audience should your creative be capturing? There are lots of ways for you to find this out, depending on the entity you’re working with. With different marketing disciplines increasingly merging, and agencies turning full-service, for many reading this blog your colleagues will have access to tools that could give you the edge in creating a brief that gets your client thinking in a completely different way.
Using tools like keyword research, usually the preserve of the SEOs in your team, or audience profiles from the inbound experts, are excellent ways of understanding the behaviour of the audience you’re trying to reach.
You won’t necessarily need to present this data in your brief, but knowing about it will help you with the writing process, as well as provide you excellent material should you go on to meet the client face-to-face.
Research your client
Knowing what your client does and the market it operates in is a given. But what kind of material will your client respond to? Do they want you bring them solutions without any fuss, or would they respond to more detail? Having an idea about this will help you write something your client responds to positively from day one.
Provide suggestions of measurable results
This is something that people often miss, or at least don’t pay enough attention to. What concrete results do you want to achieve? What are your KPIs, and how do you measure them? (E.g. website traffic, number of leads, revenue, etc.) Many creative agencies are excellent with with and even provide advice on it in free creative brief templates, but it’s conspicuous how many briefs fail to mention anything that can be accurately measured, as well as the tools you might use to mention them.
If appropriate, suggest a budget
A terrifying word for many creative agencies: budget. If it’s appropriate in terms of the current relationship you have with your client, you need to include some kind of suggestion about budget. It’s no use proposing something that’s not feasible, and if you’re seen to be trying to push the client towards something they’re not comfortable with, you can expect to quickly lose their confidence.
Of all the points we’ve made above, the inclusion of measurable KPIs and the ways in which you would measure them is the one we’ve seen impress clients most. If you’re working with a business owner, they will respond extremely well to projections and the promise of seeing tangible numbers, and the promises you makes at this stage becoming real. Too many agencies don’t set these goals and it becomes unclear what it is they’re offering: with your powerful creative brief, you can make it clear you’re offering value from the very beginning of each project.
It’s no secret that the efficiency of online shopping is hitting bricks-and-mortar retail outlets hard. Last year, nearly 6,000 stores closed on the UK high streets. While 11 new shops opened every day, 16 were closing down at the same time. Sometimes stores are competing with their own online business, and it works out more cost-effective to shut up shop and move everything online.
How can retailers expect their stores to survive against an online shopping experience which allows customers to find the same product at the best price, in less time and often with next day delivery, all without leaving the comfort of their home?
Retailers need to capitalise on the one thing that sets them apart from their online counterparts: the in-person customer experience. Even if stores can’t afford to compete on price, they shouldn’t underestimate the value of dazzling your customers with great service, presentation, atmosphere and more.
What Makes A Shopping Experience Great?
If you asked most people what constitutes a great shopping experience, their first - if not only - answer would be customer service. Having staff that are trained with the tools they need to boost sales and keep your clientele coming back for more is absolutely essential and the most effective way of growing your business.
Superior product knowledge that allows retail staff to suggest, locate and describe what they’re trying to sell at the drop of a hat creates a more seamless and personable shopping experience for the customer than a nervous customer service advisor approaching them and asking if they need any help, which they probably don’t realise they do.
However, there’s a lot more that goes into an outstanding shopping experience, particularly for customers who prefer less interaction. A lot of people want to go in a store, find what they need as quickly as possible and move on with their day. These are largely the customers who are taking their business online, so they can get what they’re after at the click of a button.
While you may not be able to fully discourage them from their digital ways, improving your store’s layout and making products easy to find will undoubtedly encourage your customers to keep shopping in store with you. Good lighting, clear signposting and well-presented displays are crucial.
Encouraging a steady flow of customers through the front door is about offering an experience they can’t get anywhere else. This doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, and trying to do too much could actually impede growth by throwing up a roadblock to completing the sale. But your store unquestionably has something unique about it, otherwise it wouldn’t exist.
Figuring out your unique selling point and integrating it seamlessly into the customer shopping experience is a twofold consideration. Obviously you need to separate yourself from your immediate competition, but you also need to offer something that your customer can’t get online - whether that’s from your business’ own online counterpart or a competitor. Given the choice between two identical experiences, customers will choose the easiest path, which is online.
Delivering an in-store shopping experience that leads to business growth, in an age where customers can almost definitely get the same product at a better price, without ever setting foot in a bricks-and-mortar outlet is no small feat.
However, for customers, shopping is about more than just purchasing a product that you need. It is one of the most common social activities, it’s worth over £300 billion to the UK economy and is an important source of human interaction for many people. The provision of a shopping experience that caters to this need for engagement, as well as essential goods, is an area where online retailers can’t compete.
ETZ is delighted to welcome back its founder, Nick Woodward, to the full time helm, to spearhead exciting tech developments for recruitment agencies.
Woodward started ETZ from his kitchen table in 2000, turning his tiny tech start-up into a globally successful business, which has helped many of the UK’s leading recruitment agencies to manage their back-office operations more efficiently and cost-effectively.
After stepping back to pursue other technology projects, Nick – who has acted as ETZ’s Executive Chairman since June 2017 – is now working full-time for the business, and will lead ETZ’s day-to-day operations as the company undertakes exciting new projects.
Nick Woodward says: “ETZ has been a passion project for me since day one, so I’m delighted to be getting more involved in the company’s daily progress once again. We have put a great deal of work into helping recruitment agencies join up their back-office, and I’m excited to continue this journey with ETZ’s highly skilled team. We have a lot of exciting new ideas in the pipeline and I can’t wait to roll them out over the next year or two.”
Nick will be joined by ETZ’s newly-promoted COO, Casey Simmons, who brings a wealth of recruitment industry experience to the position. Casey joined ETZ in 2017 as Account Manager, having spent nearly a decade working in recruiter and recruitment operation roles across the business support, sales & marketing and IT sectors.
Casey Simmons adds: “Having worked in many roles across the recruitment industry, I have seen first-hand the challenges that agencies face, and I am delighted to bring that knowledge to my new role as COO. I’m looking forward to working with Nick and the team on new features and functions that will help recruitment businesses to save even more time and money.”
ETZ’s personnel updates follow the company’s launch of Startup 20/20, a startup version of its recruitment back-office software. This new package offers startup recruitment agencies the opportunity to improve the way they run their agency operations, at an affordable cost.
The company behind ResourceSpac, Montala, has received Royal Warrant of Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen - one of the few software providers to be awarded the honour.
ResourceSpace is the web-based Digital Asset Management (DAM) software of choice for leading commercial, academic and not for profit organisations, offering a convenient, productive and easy to use solution for organising and sharing files. ResourceSpace is available as open source software, meaning that there are no license fees to pay and no vendor lock-ins.
A highly sought-after privilege, the Royal Warrant is granted to companies or people who have regularly supplied goods or services to either the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales for no fewer than five consecutive years. Montala is one of only 14 companies to be newly appointed a Royal Warrant by the Queen in 2018.
Warrant holders are required to demonstrate that they have an effective environmental and sustainability policy.
Dan Huby, Managing Director of Montala and ResourceSpace Project Lead said: “For our work to be recognised in this way is a huge honour and I’m very proud of the team here at Montala in providing consistently first class service to our customers.”