All Industries, Marketing, Operations, Webinar Recap

How to Convert More Customers in 2023 with Schedule Engine and SearchLight

Diana Lamirand
March 6th, 2023
12 Min Read

Is your home service business adapting to changing consumer behaviors? Do you make it easy for customers to book an appointment for repair, service, or new installation? If you remain stuck on booking appointments only through phone calls or face-to-face conversations with customers, you’re likely missing out on a whole lot of untapped revenue.

Online booking is the wave to ride in 2023, marketing experts say, if you want to capture more leads and convert more sales to grow your residential service business.

“When we think about the ways customers are doing business with us today, it varies drastically from 10 or 20 years ago,” says Alyssa Lavik, Partner Marketing Manager at Schedule Engine, now a ServiceTitan company. “Today's consumers really expect the ability to interact with your business when and how they want, and in a way that's super convenient and easy for them.”

Think of online booking for your HVAC, plumbing, or electrical company like a “digital drive-through” tool that makes it easier for busy customers to interact with your business when they need to, whether it’s during the day or in the middle of the night, says Jonathan Torrey, Director of Marketing and Partnerships at SearchLight, a partner of Schedule Engine. 

“For 2023, reducing friction for your customers should be the No. 1 goal,” Torrey says. “How do I make it easier for people to discover my business? How do I make it easy for people to understand what we offer and why we're different? How do I make it easy for people to get in touch with me?”

In a recent ServiceTitan webinar, Lavik and Torrey demonstrate the power of Schedule Engine’s online booking and chat features to leverage the same amount of sales conversion revenue without having to track down as many leads, as compared to other conversion tools like phone calls or contact forms. The marketing experts also share tips and tricks for service businesses to not only get ahead but stay ahead.

In this recap, you’ll learn:

  • How to adapt to changing consumer behavior

  • Tools that convert at the highest rate

  • Ways to maintain the efficiency of your revenue

  • Best practices for adding Schedule Engine to your website

» Want to grow your business? Click here to get a demo.

What is Schedule Engine?

Schedule Engine is a comprehensive software solution that streamlines the scheduling process for home services. From automated online scheduling to 24/7 live chat and voice support with industry-trained professionals, it allows contractors to never miss a job while optimizing efficiency for dispatchers and technicians. ServiceTitan acquired Schedule Engine in 2022.

What is SearchLight?

SearchLight is a digital advertising company based in Vermont providing revenue measurement software and advertising services that include Google, Bing, Facebook, and YouTube.

Webinar Recap Schedule Engine Slides 1Torrey says SearchLight originally started as a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Facebook advertising agency a few years ago, but switched its business model to focus on revenue measurement as a more effective tool.

“For about a year, I tracked lead to revenue by hand from all conversion tools, just to figure out what was happening and if there was an opportunity to build a solution to turn raw data into insights to give you a competitive advantage,” Torrey says. “That's what the SearchLight platform is. How did that customer first discover you, and how well are they turning into revenue?

“And, ultimately, we use this data to uncover and fix revenue leaks,” he adds. “We're looking at things like match rate, book job rate, closed revenue, and what strategic and operational decisions you can make to improve those processes.”

Adapting to changing consumer behavior in the trades

The most important takeaway from Torrey’s lead-to-revenue analysis showed that 33% of sold revenue in 2022 — which resulted from about 45,000 leads — did not convert via phone calls. Rather, customers spent money after booking online, filling out a digital form, or via chat.

“This doesn't mean phone calls aren't important, but what it means is that a third of the sold revenue in 2022 converted via Schedule Engine, chats, and form leads. That's a pretty big number, and it's growing,” Torrey says.

Adding a convenient online booking tool for your service business can help you navigate 2023 with a competitive edge, he says. When McDonald’s opened its first drive-through window in 1975 to better service soldiers at a nearby Oklahoma military base (they weren’t allowed to get out of their vehicles while wearing Army fatigues), leaders probably had similar discussions about whether adding this “convenience” would negatively affect revenue. 

“Today, a drive-through for McDonald’s accounts for 65% of its revenue,” Torrey says.

Much like customers today book hair appointments, dental visits, car repairs, and more online, many also want convenient options for scheduling HVAC maintenance visits, plumbing repairs, electrical work, and more.

“You're giving them choices of how you want to meet their needs,” Torrey says. “ I think of tools like Schedule Engine and chat as the digital drive-through. It is a convenient way for me to interact with your business.”

As the popularity of online booking grows, service companies that meet their customers where they’re at will likely see a much higher growth rate than companies that don’t.

“We are starting to see stronger and stronger upward trends of customers not calling a business, but going through some of these other conversion tools,” Torrey says.

Tools that convert at the highest rate

Digging deeper into Torrey’s lead-to-revenue analysis, we take a look at 15 HVAC contractors across the U.S. who captured those 45,000 leads from Pay-Per-Click and Facebook advertising. The graphic below shows phone calls (82%) captured the most leads, whereas online scheduling (5%) and chat (3%) captured the least. 

The nuance, however, lies in the second chart showing the percentage of sold and closed revenue by conversion tool. While phones captured 82% of the leads, only 67% of those converted to sales. With online scheduling, only 5% of the leads were captured, but three times the number of customers (15%) converted to a closed sale. 

“You needed fewer leads from online scheduling to get the same amount of revenue as other conversion tools,” Torrey explains.

Chat showed similar results, with more than double the number of customer conversions.

To understand the next graphic and SearchLight’s process for increasing revenue conversions, contractors must first understand:

  • What is a match rate? The percentage of leads that end up in the CRM with a sellable opportunity. 

“Is this somebody I can actually sell to, and not an existing customer checking in on an appointment, not somebody outside of my service area, and not a vendor trying to call me to win my business?” Torrey says. “These are actual sellable opportunities.”

  • What is a booked job rate? The percentage of leads that turn into sold or close revenue.

In this instance, the HVAC leads had a 35% match rate and a 23% booked job rate. “So, 23 out of 100 turned into a paying customer, and on average they spent $3,093,” Torrey says. 

“But when we isolate Schedule Engine in our reporting, and this is a lot of what we do, this is pretty mind-blowing,” he says.

In the same sample, leads that converted via Schedule Engine had an 81% match rate.

“That means eight out of 10 customers that finished scheduling an appointment online were a sellable opportunity,” Torrey says. “They didn't cancel. So, we went from 35% to 81%, and then those leads that converted via Schedule Engine had a 57% book job rate. One out of two customers that went through Schedule Engine and booked online ended up spending money with that business, and they spent more of it, at a $3,444 average ticket.”

In comparison, phone calls had a 20% booked job rate, or two booked jobs for every 10 phone calls, and those customers spent an average of about $2,483. 

“I need fewer leads with Schedule Engine to get the same amount of revenue as I do with phone call leads,” Torrey explains. “For every 10 phone leads, you're getting about $6,000 in revenue. For every 10 Schedule Engine leads, we can expect five to end up becoming a paying customer spending on average $3,400, which is $17,000 in sold revenue. That's an $11,000 difference.”

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Ways to maintain the efficiency of your revenue

Let’s take a quick look at a 2022 case study to see how leads captured by Schedule Engine trend throughout the year and how well it contributes to a company’s overall revenue. The graphic below shows PPC and Facebook ads converting through Schedule Engine.

Similar to the seasonality most HVAC companies experience, the graphic shows January with the fewest number of leads (25), then steadily increasing over the next few months until reaching a peak in May. It drops again over the summer, then peaks again in October. But, if you look at the trend from January to December, the leads increase to about 75, which is three times as many customers who converted through Schedule Engine in January. The first graphic below shows the total closed revenue for all conversion tools by month.

The second graphic shows total closed revenue converted each month by Schedule Engine.

The first quarter starts slow, but steadily increases until reaching its first $100,000 of closed revenue in July. It peaks again in August, and remains steady for the rest of the year.

“During those peak months, we might be able to get more people to convert through this tool, which we now know has a 57% booked job rate (one out of two people),” Torrey says. “I'm going to try to funnel them there because that provides air cover for my CSRs, who are busy fielding phone calls during this really peak time. That's the tactical strategic arena that's going to help you outmaneuver some of your competition.”

Now, let’s take a look at the percentage of total revenue potential by month. Revenue potential is defined as the sum of unsold estimates, sold jobs, and closed jobs.

Remember the previous benchmark of online booking capturing only 5% of leads, when compared to phone calls and other conversion tools? For this case study, Schedule Engine leads hovered around the 10% mark for the first few months of 2022, peaked a bit in May, then continued a steady climb through November.

“It tells me, ‘Oh my goodness, this is a really effective tool. I made some decisions to put it front and center,’" Torrey says. "Yes, the business grew in 2022, but you saw that the proportion of leads converting via Schedule Engine also grew the revenue. This client made it work for them and really helped to convert and drive revenue.”

Best practices for adding Schedule Engine to your website

What the examples above show, Torrey says, is that today’s home services customers are not afraid to book a job online, and companies that offer online booking can grow their profit margins more quickly. In fact, new HVAC installation jobs accounted for 22% of the Schedule Engine leads.

“So, if you're thinking, ‘Would a new customer who's looking for a replacement really book online with me? Wouldn't they want to get on the phone?’ The answer is, no,” Torrey says. “In this case, we're seeing 22%, or one in four, that came through Schedule Engine and ultimately converted.”

Does this mean talking to a live person on the phone no longer carries any value for contractors in the trades? Of course not, Torrey says.

“What it does mean is that for some of your customers, there's tremendous value in getting on the phone, and you want to accommodate that and you want to have a great experience for them when they do that,” he explains. “But you've got to also understand that some of your customers don't want to get on the phone. For them it's easier to drive up to the drive-through window, be handed their food, and not have to get out of their car. 

“So, when you think about it that way, all ways of lead conversion are equally important,” Torrey adds. “You've got to serve those customer needs.”

Once you decide to implement Schedule Engine’s online booking tool on your website, Lavik and Torrey suggest following these best practices:

  1. Establish specific benchmarks to reach, then measure your progress.

  2. Know your customers and understand their purchasing behaviors.

  3. Experiment with strategic placement of your online booking tool. Is it easy to find? Or is it competing with other conversion tools?

  4. Don’t link directly to the online scheduler. Instead, take customers to a landing page for the particular service they’re looking for and allow them to book online on that page.

  5. Add a direct call to action, such as “Book now,” “Schedule service,” or “Book repair.”

  6. Update your hours of availability to ensure better match rates.

  7. Use clear language to describe the specific services you offer.

“It really just boils down to, ‘Am I making it easy for my customer to find the online scheduling tool on my website?’ Is the message clear when they click on it? Is it loading quickly? Do I have the right language? Am I making sure I'm not asking them to jump through too many hoops?" Torrey says. “I'm going to make those changes, and tweak like I'm a scientist in the lab until I can get there, because I know the payoff is going to be worth it.”

Lavik says Schedule Engine offers three pillars of service.

“The core solution is that online booking solution being leveraged on websites, in emails, and through Facebook ads. That’s the core piece that integrates directly with ServiceTitan, and allows more of a self-service booking for your customers,” Lavik says. “On top of that, we do have a 24/7 live web chat as well as a 24/7 call center. 

“The difference of Schedule Engine from other call centers or chat solutions is we have that ability to actually convert and book appointments directly within those interactions versus simply just taking lead information and passing it back to your team, which then has to do the conversion,” she adds.

Ready to maximize more revenue and dominate your market? Increase success for your home service business by booking a demo with Schedule Engine!

Interested in driving more dollars and optimizing revenue? Schedule a free consultation with Searchlight!

ServiceTitan Software

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.

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