When someone calls a plumber, they are usually doing so because they have an immediate need. Perhaps a pipe has burst or their running water is down to a trickle. Whatever the issue, the customer needs assistance — fast.

Imagine requesting an expert plumber to come to your home, but they never call you back. The damage to the person’s home worsens, and so does the customer’s opinion of the plumbing contractor. Ultimately, the plumber loses this customer’s business and any future business from this customer. This is a common occurrence in the home services industry.  

New research from performance marketing agency Valve+Meter indicates that as much as 40% of plumbing companies are not responding to customer inquiries within five days of receipt, essentially ignoring the potential customer.

As part of the study, Valve+Meter contacted more than 450 home services companies — including plumbers, HVAC professionals, electricians, lawn care professionals and more — via forms on the companies’ websites, then tracked their respective response times. Only 60% of contractors responded to the inquiries at all, and 55% of those who responded did so after at least one full day.

Plumbing companies and independent contractors often spend thousands — and in some cases millions — of dollars to generate leads by optimizing their websites, building sales and marketing teams, and advertising. Yet, if a potential customer’s contact is not acknowledged promptly, that person will likely be heading directly to the competition. This means all that expensive marketing spend is being wasted due to poor lead management.

Here are ways plumbing companies can close the lead management gap in order to better serve customers and improve their bottom line.


Ideal lead-response cadence

No two companies are alike in their lead-response times. In the plumbing industry, an aggressive approach to response is vital, as leads are likely looking for help because of an immediate need. The most successful lead-response cadence would include multiple attempts to connect with leads — through multiple channels and across multiple days — until contact is made. Just because a lead reached out via email doesn’t mean sales representatives should not also respond to an inquiry via phone, for example.


Offer live website chat

Consumers today live in a digital age where more homeowners are on the internet, searching for solutions and enlisting services through forms and live chat bots. That means home services companies need to make it simple for consumers to engage online. They also need to be ready to respond quickly to their digital requests.

A live website chat feature is a great option for plumbing leaders who don’t want to pay someone to sit at a 24/7 call line. Being able to quickly answer questions, schedule appointments or provide quotes may prove pivotal to winning the business of someone who is researching the competition on another website tab.


Automate lead response

When new inbound leads are received, they should be routed to dispatchers and service reps through an automated process. According to Aberdeen Group, a marketing intelligence company, companies that implemented an automated lead followup process saw more than a 25% jump in lead-to-sales conversion rate, year over year.

In addition, a customer relations management system enables companies to create a lead-distribution system and assign new contacts to a specific team member. On the other hand, outsourcing a sales development team can also be an efficient option for companies wanting to capitalize on every potential customer. No matter how a plumbing company manages leads, the process should be automated and consistent to reduce the risk of leaking leads.


Require the right contact form fields

The contact form on a website may seem straightforward, but it, too, requires strategy. The length of the form may put off potential customers — too many fields and someone might be scared off, but too few fields and sales professionals will be limited in the medium in which they can reach out. Make the important fields required, such as name, email address and phone number. Other fields can be optional and left up to the lead to fill in or not.

Customers are expecting more than ever before and they don’t want to wait. Plumbing companies must be prepared to offer nearly instantaneous responses in order to see the most value in marketing spend, increase sales and not lose out on business to a competitor that better manages leads.