A residential contractor’s understanding of the home improvement behavior process helps convert more potential homeowner prospects into new home improvement clients. Basically the homeowner is like any consumer considering a major purchase who passes through a series of stages until cash gets pulled out of the wallet.
There are five stages in the home improvement behavior process similar with other consumer buyer behavior. In summary these stages are: 1) recognizing a need/problem to be solved; 2) searching for information; 3) evaluating available solutions; 4) selecting the solution and supplier; and 5) evaluating the post solution purchase.
Your goal as a residential contractor is to be the solution provider to the homeowner with the need/problem. Basically it’s that simple.
HOME IMPROVEMENT BEHAVIOR PROCESS
Let’s take a look at each stage in the home improvement behavior process and where your contractor company plays its role. While your an actor in this process, you don’t come on stage until later.
STAGE 1 – RECOGNITION
When the homeowner recognizes and identifies that there is a a need or problem in his/her residence that requires a solution, that’s Stage One in the home improvement behavior process. Accordingly, all homeowners experience this when they are residential property owners.
Some examples of homeowner needs/problems are:
- Roof Repair | Replacement
- Windows Repair | Replacement
- HVAC Maintenance | Replacement
- Kitchen | Bathroom Remodeling
- Flooring Repair | Replacement
- Painting | Siding
For the homeowner to move from this initial stage to some type of action depends upon urgency, importance and financial ability. Also, for married homeowners, there is also normally the need to reach a consensus to move forward.
A residential contractor is not involved in this stage of the home improvement decision process. But the contractor enters stage shortly.
STAGE 2 – SEARCHING FOR INFORMATION
Stage Two is where the homeowner begins to search for information about the product or service that will resolve his/her problem or need. Consequently, the homeowner’s prior experience in information gathering will influence how this search for information is performed.
Following are some examples of homeowner information gathering:
- Internet Investigation
- Social Media Consultation
- Yellow Pages | Newspapers
- Personal Reference Consultation
The homeowner in this stage will vary the amount of time and effort invested. For example, it will reflect the urgency, level of financial investment and success in finding potential solutions to the need.
Similarly, a residential contractor is not involved in this stage of the home improvement decision process.
STAGE 3 – EVALUATION
Stage Three in the home improvement behavior process is where the homeowner evaluates the potential product or service that will resolve his/her need. Because the criteria used in the evaluation process is often obtained in Stage Two.
Following are examples of the homeowner criteria for the evaluation process:
- Reputation Of Product Or Service Provider
- Cost Versus Quality Of Solution (Perceived Value)
- Long Term Benefit Of Solution Versus Investment
- Guarantee | Warranty Of Solution | Service Provider
- Service Provider Risk (Insurance | License | Bonded)
This stage corresponds to the homeowner doing his/her homework and due diligence. Basically the term refers to the research done before entering into an agreement or a financial transaction with the residential contractor.
Now a residential contractor is involved in this stage of the home improvement behavior process because of their public profile information and client references.
STAGE 4 – SELECTION OF SOLUTION | PROVIDER
Stage Four is where the homeowner commits to the purchase of the product and selects who will provide the service to resolve his/her need. For example, the homeowner signs an agreement and makes a financial deposit.
Later, the homeowner accepts completion of the project and cancels the outstanding balance. Finally, this is when the homeowner pulls the cash out of the wallet.
Following are examples of the homeowner selecting potential products or services:
- The homeowner upgrades the quality and style of kitchen cabinets and selects the kitchen remodeling contractor for installation.
- Investing in a maintenance contract for existing HVAC equipment and selecting the HVAC contractor for service.
- The homeowner purchases the roof replacement services from contractor.
- Upgrading the quality and style of windows and selecting the windows contractor for replacement and installation.
- The homeowner contracts house repainting, specifying grade, quality and color from a painting contractor.
The homeowner represents the “money” at this stage in the process. Later, the homeowner acts as an observer as the service is being performed by the contractor.
The contractor is involved in this stage of the home improvement behavior process. Since the contractor is implementing the decision of the homeowner to solve the need/problem.
STAGE 5 – POST PURCHASE EVALUATION
Stage Five in the home improvement behavior process is the post-purchase evaluation by the homeowner. Afterwards this process continues for an extended period of time (e.g., warranty period) since the product is being used by the homeowner.
The homeowner evaluates the “correctness” of the product or service solution to resolve the need or problem recognized in Stage One. Then, if it doesn’t, the homeowner is not satisfied and can take action to remedy the situation.
Following are examples of homeowner actions to remedy being unsatisfied:
- Firstly, the homeowner advises the contractor of his/her disappointment to see what can be done to correct the situation. Consequently the contractor looks to satisfy the client to gain future repeat business and new client referrals.
- The homeowner can publish a negative review in the contractor directory site. As a result the contractor may reconsider the homeowner’s issue.
- Also the homeowner can make use of local social media. Basically this provides a public forum for airing the homeowner’s feelings about a residential contractor.
- The homeowner always has the power to “persuade”. That is, the homeowner can offer positive or negative word of mouth references to their circle of contacts.
A contractor is involved in this stage of the home improvement behavior process. Basically the contractor understands and values the importance of their client relationships.
CONCLUSION – HOME IMPROVEMENT BEHAVIOR PROCESS
A contractor’s understanding of the home improvement behavior process helps convert more potential homeowner sales prospects into new customers. After all, the homeowner is like any consumer considering a major purchase. Consequently the homeowner passes through five emotional and rational behavior stages. In summary they are: 1) Recognition; 2) Searching For Information; 3) Evaluation; 4) Selection; and 5) Post Purchase Evaluation.
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