Before the pandemic, we were seeing great activity on both internet leads as well as store leads. It seemed like as soon as the pandemic started, internet leads took off.
We have always been uber focused on creating, responding to and closing internet leads, as we know most people spend a tremendous amount of time researching our products online before they make an inquiry. We have a tracking system and analyze them weekly. We look at the number of leads, the response time and closing ratio of those opportunities.
During the height of the pandemic, we saw a more than 100% increase in internet leads. In May, we received over 1,000 internet leads, and the drop since then has not been drastic. Store leads (or as we call them, “carpet leads”) took a pretty big hit at the start of the pandemic. This was mostly due to the state mandate of “stay home, stay healthy.” Once we got our showrooms set up with COVID-19 protocols, we have seen steady traffic in our stores as well.
Because we already had a great tracking system before the pandemic, we have not had to change our processes other than to keep up with increased activity. I often told my team that this is what we have been practicing for. We also shifted our presentations online and have seen great success there as well.
Before the pandemic, we were getting about 50% of our leads from walk-in traffic and 50% from the internet. Now we are seeing about 70% from the internet and 30% from walk-in.
While the pandemic has not changed how we track leads, it has changed how we respond and handle the volume. We are giving customers more ways to shop. Due to the manufacturing backlog, we are all experiencing, we are seeing more people calling us and saying they will take whatever they can get now. They are less concerned with such things as color, number of jets, etc.
If someone would have asked me going into the pandemic what I thought our business model would be in six months, I would have told them we would be laying people off and most likely closing locations. Boy, was I wrong! Having navigated 9/11 and the recession of 2008/2009, where we saw 30% decreases across the board, I would have thought this would be much worse. I’ve never been happier to be wrong.
Steve Ruscigno Vice president and general manager Oregon Hot Tub six locations in the Portland, Oregon metro
Was 2020 the year where you asked yourself, “Am I getting too old for this?” It was for me.
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In a year with more leads than product, my team and I were run down, tired and frustrated. There was so much work in organizing and contacting that we were asking ourselves, “What’s the point?” 2020 was a reminder of the good old days, but were we ready to work it like we did then?
The answer, like most things that come with the wisdom of experience, is “Yes, but.” Yes, we can (and we did), but to quote the cliché, it was a reminder to work smarter instead of harder.
Using our existing tools like HubSpot (our primary CRM software) and looking at a sales funnel (that honestly we had not focused on for years), we realized the amazing opportunities in hand.
We took the sales funnel and made a list of key questions for our sales team for each lead that came in. (If you are not currently using this model — or are not sure what it is and why it is MAGICAL — call me.) It was well worth it to get the right questions that would help qualify our customers and get them comfortable with their personalized sales program.
Our website was our primary lead source. Phone calls were secondary, and in-store was a close third once our doors could open again.
We quickly realized our best leads were online. They were prequalified as part of the web store shopping experience and were the folks furthest down the funnel and ready to buy. When we took a critical look at our in-store traffic, it became clear that these folks were asking for a lot of time, were quite high at the top of the funnel and not ready for a commitment yet. We used this to our advantage to get them into the funnel for a strategic timeline purchase based on availability of the product they were looking for. Crazy, right? We planned for future income as well as flattened the team resources curve.
Retailing recreational and leisure products in a pandemic has brought personal and business growth. With technology at our fingertips plus old-school life experience, our team is closer and better — for now and into the future.