How to profit in an online world

Sep 01 | 2016

Colin Martinho, Head of Marketing, Buzzmove, draws a comparison between lead generation and job conversion services for moving companies.

The removals industry has changed a great deal over the last decade. With the explosion of the Internet, the modern consumer now has a world of removal companies at their fingertips and the traditional methods of acquiring customers (word of mouth, leaflets and so on) are less reliable when a Google search is just a few clicks away. Consequently, demand for both lead generation and conversion/auction websites has increased and competition is no longer restricted to a couple of local companies.

The modern consumer is always online, whether it be through their laptop, tablet, mobile phone or any other gadget. If you have little or no online visibility, you are potentially missing out on a significant proportion of would-be customers. When a person uses Google to search for a removal company in the areas you operate in, you need to be in that long list (ideally near the top). Few removal companies offer such a service, but those who do are aware of the time-consuming, difficult and expensive practice of online marketing.

Lead generation services aim to bridge this gap for removal firms - easing the online transition process and taking on all online marketing duties whilst also supplying high quality customer enquiries. The removal company retains direct management of leads, has full control of price and can communicate directly with the customer via the contact details provided.

Most importantly, a lead generation service gives removal companies a vitally important 24/7 online presence, ensuring that they are not missing out on potential jobs. Lead generation users, Ultimate Movers, state that, “Around 10% to 15% of customers who are moving home prefer to use quote comparison sites, so if you want to make sure you're open to everyone, you need to buy leads. You can operate without them, but this is a market where, as a removal company, we wouldn't usually get these leads directly.”

Emil Perushanov, Director of Top Removals, uses numerous lead generation websites and whilst benefitting from the service, he does have a few misgivings. “It works when all leads are distributed to similar sized companies and no one can dominate on price. Similar companies offer similar rates and it is then up to the reputation or availability for the client to choose. It doesn't work when there is someone offering unrealistic rates and trying to book all the jobs.”

Whilst lead generation works for a large number of removal companies, there are some companies that struggle to convert leads into paying jobs. On average, 1 in 5 are converted into paying jobs and for companies who excel at conversion, this system is preferable to an auction or conversion service that will normally take a significant chunk of the job’s earnings (as opposed to charging for the lead).

For those who, for some reason or other, struggle to convert leads, an auction/conversion service could be a better option. These services normally offer the customer a fixed price and then sell the job on to removal companies for a commission fee. By only paying for confirmed jobs, as opposed to leads, some companies prefer this service - even if the earnings from a job are diminished and/or inconsistent with their regular pricing.

Andrew Smith of Ramshaw Transport, states that whilst this fixed price is beneficial for customers, it can also lead to problems. “Customers sometimes forget to list all their items and this results in an incorrect price.” In situations like this, some conversion companies will pay the difference in price but the risk of arriving unequipped remains, which could be detrimental to your company’s reputation. This is potentially one of the key reasons that a very popular conversion service has recently ceased operations in the UK - especially as the idea of a job being priced externally (and then sold to the highest bidder) does not sit comfortably with a large number of removal companies in the first place.

Essentially, as technology continues to develop at a rapid pace, we are approaching a market in which almost every purchase originates, in some form or other, online. The modern consumer wants transparency, simplicity and the option to interact with a removal service at a time which is convenient to them. Luckily, fulfilling such a criteria is no longer a difficult, time-consuming and expensive process. Indeed, with a wealth of lead generation and conversion/auction services available, marketing a removals business online has never been as easy, efficient or as cost effective.

Photo: Colin Martinho