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    New Survey Reveals Consumer Impressions of Home Service Businesses

    Aug. 19, 2022
    Homeowner responses provide insight that can help increase customer acquisition and retention rates.
    Mail Shark, an industry-leading national direct mail marketing company that helps businesses acquire and retain more customers with its weekly direct mail strategy, recently announced the release of “Cracking the Code" for the Home Services industry.

    "Cracking the Code" is a thoughtful compilation of industry-specific consumer research & insights based on questions curated from Mail Shark’s team of marketing professionals as well as their industry friends, partners, and clients. They took these questions and conducted extensive nationwide consumer research from over 10,000 consumers to get the answers. The results of these findings are the key insights found in “Cracking the Code.”

    Results of Mail Shark's "Cracking the Code" survey include:

    • Do consumers know what HVAC companies do?
    • What offers do many HVAC companies get wrong?
    • What influences your customers the most?
    • Who is using coupons for your services?
    • What Google rating can hurt your business?
    • How often do your customers want to hear from you?
    • One proven retention & referral marketing concept.
    • Are homeowners interested in maintenance plans?
    • How much does your technician’s appearance matter?

    To get answers to those questions, the Mail Shark team looked at extensive nationwide consumer research from over 10,000 consumers. The results are the key insights found in “Cracking the Code.”

    Josh Davis, chief revenue officer for Mail Shark, spoke with Contracting Business recently to provide additional insights into consumers' survey responses.

    HVAC What?

    Davis said the survey revealed a lack of understanding by homeowners about the importance of maintaining heating and air conditioning systems, and the purpose of an HVAC contractor: half of resondents answered that they don't know what HVAC companies do. Younger-age-group respondents were less aware than older respondents, but even among the older respondents, 32 percent reported that they don't know what HVAC companies do. 

    "That could be because one spouse took care of it more frequently, or perhaps they have had a friend who always worked on their heating and cooling, and they're just not educated about the overall industry," Davis surmised.

    One solution to the confusion is to spell out "heating and cooling" in all direct mail communication. "Talk to them like they're not aware of the procedures," Davis says. "Spell it out. Explain things without any ambiguity. That leads to the next question, which is, consumer understanding of a furnace 'tune-up,'" he continued.

    What's a 'Tune-up'?

    It turns out that "tune-up," the most common expression in HVAC company mail pieces, is also the most vague.

    "If you 'google' the term 'furnace tune-up," you're going to find hundreds of coupons that only say 'Furnace Tune-Up," Davis said, with no additional explanation of what a tune-up entails. In the "Cracking the Code" survey, 87 percent of homeowners found it more helpful when the mailer describes exactly what a tune up will do for the system. "Furnace Tune-Up" may not be enough for homeowners to understand exactly what you are offering, and why they need the service, which greatly minimizes consumers' interest in having the service performed. 

    The best description, Davis says, spells out more clearly the benefits of a tune-up. 

    "We focus just a little more on what’s in it for the customer and how they benefit. I think that would be important if, on someone’s website they list the features and benefits of a tune-up," he says.

    What Influences Consumers Most?

    Many factors are at work to exert influence on consumers when they are seeking a home services provider.  And according to the Mail Shark survey, quality is at the top of the list. Consumers want their home services provider to do a quality job, so much so  that it ranked as more influential than cost. Reputation ranked second, and cost was third.

    "What was glaring for me was that quality was selected above cost," Davis says. And what is interesting to me, is that it is the same for auto repair services. Quality is more important than cost. When it comes to your home or your vehicle -- both of which are important assets -- people want it done right." Tied closely to quality is consumers' belief that a service provider can be trusted. Using  the word 'trust' in a direct mail message hold much weight.

    Consumers want their home services provider to do a quality job, so much so  that it ranked as more influential than cost.

    Coupons Matter to All

    The Mail Shark survey found that a strong coupon or special offer is often the catalyst to attracting and acquiring new customers, regardless of income.

    The homeowners survey by Mail Shark with higher incomes are just as likely to use coupons as homeowners with much lower incomes. Additionally, three out of
    every four homeowners surveyed said they would use a coupon if the received one for a home service they needed. Davis said again that this is true in the auto repair sector.

    "And, the higher ticket items, the higher income individuals are aware of the savings benefit of using coupons," Davis says. And, he adds to not fret over the fear that coupons will diminish revenue. "The message to our customers is, looking beyond that first sale, look at what the lifetime value of this customer is. It's not what they buy today, but what they spend over the lifetime of being your customer." 

    The Mail Shark "Cracking the Code" survey includes additional insights related to Google ratings, preferred frequency of contact, and retention and referrals.

    Join the Community

    The “Cracking the Code Community” invites home services owners to ask their own questions about consumer behavior. Mail Shark will take the top questions posed by community members and conduct the necessary nationwide research to provide the latest insights back to the community, allowing them to keep their finger on the pulse of consumers.

    To download “Cracking the Code” and join the community, subscribe here, at no cost.