We’ve seen a lot of changes over the past 40 years – globally, Australia-wide, and within the Australian shed industry. The customer expectations on getting a quote for a shed and the quote-to-purchase process easily fall into this category of ‘much-changed’ over time. Continual technological developments and the resulting shift in our society and culture to where it is now – with answers and gratification expected as an almost-instant response to any request – have shaped how we interact with our customers.
Expectations of old
Before the release of the world wide web, consumers would use the Yellow Pages to locate a shed company in their area, or they would see an ad in a local or Sunday newspaper. Few retailers would use TV for advertising due to the cost.
In the early to late ’80s, we used the now-defunct Queensland Sunday Sun newspaper, with a 10 x 2 ad permanently on page 2. That ad provided all the leads we needed to run a successful business. The process then for getting a quote was straightforward. A customer would call or walk in, enquire about the cost of a shed, and we would give the price over the phone or in person. If they wanted a written quote, we faxed it, mailed it, or handed it over in person. It was a personable business with high interaction with consumers.
Enter: the Internet
When Australia joined the global Internet on June 23, 1989 – via a connection made by the University of Melbourne – it was used mainly by computer scientists. Three decades later, more than 86% of Australian households are connected to the Internet.
On August 6, 1991, the first website was introduced to the world. And while perhaps not as exciting or immersive as some of the nearly 1.9 billion websites that exist today, it makes sense that the first web page launched on the good ol’ W3 was, well, an information guide on the world wide web with instructions on how to use it.
The Internet’s ubiquity (ability to be everywhere simultaneously) and its easy accessibility offer an immediacy of information that no other news medium can match. Thus, most forms of advertising to market sheds these days are done online, through websites and social media.
The public, in general, is accustomed to being able to surf the net for products near and far. So they’re used to having choice, lots of choice. This, of course, is as true for sheds as it is for any product or service.
When people visit a website, they have an option to pick up the phone and speak to a real person. But the greater majority prefer to remain mostly anonymous and fill in a form to get a quote.
And, with the prevalence of instant communication in today’s lifestyle, along with the ability to search a query online and receive thousands of results in a nano-second, consumers expect solutions faster than ever before.
Some websites have a graphical interface where the consumer can sort of design a shed online and email that cartoon to get a price on that design. Without exception, these graphical interfaces fall well short of providing the consumer with a tailored solution. Or, for that matter, a quote.
Furthermore, whether the consumer fills in a form or creates a cartoon, the retailer at the other end has to interpret the customer’s wishes, enter that information into a shed software, produce the quote and email it back to the client. Sometimes the interpretation is correct. Sometimes it’s not. This can create a lot of back and forth over a period of hours, if not days.
Meeting consumer expectations
In these days of instant everything – where a cup of instant coffee is too slow – consumers have an expectation that they can go to a website and get a price on anything they want… except a shed!!!
The next generation and natural progression of online quoting for sheds is where a consumer can go online, design a shed on the online software, press the “Get A Quote” button, and the quote is delivered to their email inbox instantly and in real-time.
As a by-product, this tool saves the retailer time, reduces the number of tyre kickers, and lessens errors and omissions, because the consumer designed “their shed” themselves. This tool still provides the retailer with the necessary information to do follow-ups. Only this time, the follow-ups are on the shed the consumer designed. The first time.
The next generation of software is here
The very first of this next generation of online quoting tools has hit the market. In a world-first and industry-first, Quotec Now, developed by Quotec, was released in April 2022.
This software is like the second coming of Christ for the shed industry. It saves shed retailers time, money, frustration and delay in servicing the customer. It removes the need for guesswork, errors and multiple rounds of back and forth that the shed industry has known up until this point, with previous technology. And all to reach the point of quoting for the design that the customer intended in the first place.
Anyone in the shed industry has experienced this pain point with traditional software – ‘old technology’ – at some point. Usually, time and time again.
A potential customer would send a form with request details or email through a design, which then had to be interpreted by the shed retailer, put into a tangible design within their in-house shed quoting software, and quoted manually, then sent back to the customer. This would often come with several rounds of corrections and clarifications to reach the result that the customer thought they made clear when they first submitted their request. Causing a long delay of up to several weeks. And more than a little frustration. Nothing cools a good lead quicker than delay and frustration.
How does this new software innovation Quotec Now change this? It removes the guesswork and removes the time delay factor. Bringing everybody onto the same page, instantly, and with minimal fuss or effort.
Quotec Now gives consumers the ability to design their exact shed per their requirements on the shed retailer’s website, and generate the quote for their exact design on the spot – then and there.
Instantly, this information – and the new prospect’s contact details – are all sent off to the shed retailer. They can follow up to close the sale within minutes. Without back and forth. Without errors. Without manual work to interpret requests and guess at the intended shed’s final design.
Everyone is on the same page, instantly. And your lead just turned into a warmed prospect who is fully aware of the cost to make it all happen. All within the space of minutes.
A review of Quotec Now
One of the first shed retailers to test out the Quotec Now software in the day-to-day was Steve Johnson of Aussie Shed Kits. Steve wrote this published review about the software:
“I have been working with Quotec and the Quotec Software for some time now. It’s a real pleasure working with the team at Quotec, particularly Matt. I can call anytime and get the support I need, from this small family company who has a long history in supplying & designing sheds.
Just recently Quotec released a new addition to their Quotec Software, Quotec Now. This is a first in the industry and a real game-changer. When customers previously visited my website, they would need to fill in a form and email to get a price. I would then need to get back to them to discuss their needs and then design the shed and forward the quote, and follow up again in a day or 2.
With Quotec Now, potential customers have the option to design and quote their own shed on my website. The hours that this has saved me are enormous, the back and forth to get the quote right is a thing of the past and best of all Quotec Now automatically qualifies the lead as a genuine prospect.
All I do now is follow up the genuine prospect as I have their details in my software, discuss any changes, confirm their design will suit their needs and close the deal.