Prepping for the Unknown of 2021 Part 2: Save Time, Money, and Stay Ahead of the Curve with the Right Tech for 2021

2021- Contractor Estimating & Invoicing Software - Hearth

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2020 has been a hurricane of good and bad for everyone. Thankfully, the home improvement industry has seen year-over-year growth of over 20%. 2021 is shaping up to be a complete unknown, though, with unclear job growth reports and a virus that has completely disrupted our lives.

Hearth has compiled the best national organizations, industry gurus, and top contractors across all components of home improvement, to deliver a 5-Part webinar series that can serve as a playbook for the best-practices to ensure a successful 2021. We’re covering everything from successful lead generation, to selling systems, to saving timing and money on the tedious operations of your business.

Part two of our series, Save Time, Money & Stay Head of the Curve with the Right Tech happened this Wednesday 11/11/20. It was a lively discussion with industry leaders on how to identify and build the right tech for your home improvement business.

The Panelists:

  • Dennis Steele – Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer @ Podium, a leading SMS and customer communications tool that has changed how contractors communicate with customers

  • Mark Olson – VP Marketing @ JobNimbus, one of the leading CRMs in home improvement for managing the entire customer journey

  • Mike Hilverda – Director of Customer Success @ SalesRabbit, the leader in sales enablement technology and door-to-door sales

  • David Wilson – Director of Sales @ Solo, a point of sales software that lets companies provide digital estimates, proposals, and contracts

  • Moderator: James Waite – Head of Partnerships @ Hearth

Industry Trends

These days we hear a lot about millennials impacting buying trends across all different verticals, markets, and industries. When it comes to housing, it’s no different.  Millennials are currently the largest contingent of home buyers representing 38% of the market, and the average age of a home is 37 years old.  These homes will need to be repaired and updated as a new wave of owners cycle through.

As a direct result, millennials are also directly impacting the way your business has to operate in the home improvement space. Price will always be the most important factor, but clear and concise quotes, great communication, and expertise will make or break the deal with this group of buyers.

The use (or lack) of technology in your process will enhance or hinder your sales and bottom line with this generation of buyers, and all generations to come.  Streamlining your quotes to be clear and concise, texting, and great customer reviews are paramount to being viewed as a good partner for the job.  92% of new homeowners will seek more than 1 quote for a job, so it’s imperative that you break through clutter.

In part 2 of our panel series we discussed just how to do that.  Here are the highlights:

Marketing & Sales

In our first segment we visited marketing and sales optimization:

With the current trends in the marketplace, Mike Hilverda of SalesRabbit sees a big differentiator in companies that succeed and fail as the industry adapts: “It seems to be a choice whether companies are succeeding or failing…some companies are choosing to adapt to technology and grow, others are staying the course or shutting down.”  Mike goes on to say that “it’s the perfect time to adjust and do the things that are going to help make you successful.”

Dennis Steele at Podum sees a similar trend with behavioral shifts being accelerated in 2020.  “Originally, macro trends trained behaviors. Now you’ve been trained by companies like Amazon to make decisions based on reviews.” Video chat is another example of an emerging technology in just the past year, and it has now exploded to become the norm.  

Dennis concludes “Once you set a new standard of experience, the consumer’s expectation is going to change and expect that experience.” You need to remain relatable to the customer. A text message may be much more effective than a call and voicemail. Another example is that fewer people are carrying checkbooks these days. Your technology solutions have to solve for that.

When adapting your sales and marketing experience in the new realities of the post-COVID marketplace, it’s imperative to keep up with the technological trends. Delaying or ignoring these big shifts will ultimately lead to missed marketing opportunities, leads, and ultimately sales.  Dennis ties up this topic very succinctly;  “If you make it easier, they’ll give you money more quickly.”

The Product Stack

Next, our discussion moved to products and how to decide what to use and how to layer those components together.  We started this section with a pretty basic question: How important is a suite of technology that talks to each other, and is there a one-stop-shop?

David Wilson, sees this as a pretty straightforward answer. “There is no tool that will do everything, but a good software stack will reward you greatly.” The most important part is to understand what your business needs are and identify the tools that will get you there. “The real thing comes from vetting out softwares…tech is 100x better today than it was a few years ago….but you need to determine your processes before you make a decision.”

When considering exactly what you need for your business, Mark Olson also does not recommend looking for the all-in-one solution. Rather, seek out a set of specific expertises that will get you to the outcomes that will make your unique business the most successful. “You don’t want to buy a generalist software,” Mark states, “you want to buy expertise.” Go out and find the expertise that will work together in an integrated and automated way that will be most successful for your business objectives.

Mike adds one more spin to the idea of finding the right tech for your business, “Millenials are also your workforce, andthey want a clean process.” Raising this point brings up an important component of choosing your tech. It’s not just the customer that will see the results, but your workforce is also accustomed to certain methods and standards when doing their work. 

Mark sums up this section very nicely when discussing how you manage these big installs and deployments of technology. “Every contractor’s dream is to work on his business, not in his business, and there is so much inefficiency in the hand written processes, if you want to grow your business in an automated fashion, you have to deploy technology.”

Cancellations, Re-Hash, & Referrals

Finally, with the hour coming to a close and time running short, we touched quickly on how technology can improve your cancellations, rehash, and referrals.

Thinking specifically about mitigating cancellations, developing relationships with your customers can be the most impactful thing you do.  A contractor with a 30 message text conversation might be in much better shape than one with a few emails to the customer. Dennis thinks about this as “leveraging tech to understand who they are going to be working with”  If you have that relationship, they will be significantly less likely to cancel your contract.

David hits on this topic of rehash and getting referrals very succinctly when talking about making it easy for a customer to interact with you. “If it’s work to do something like leave a review, they won’t do it” and your business might be out that future referral or customer.  Making the process easy for your customer is critical to getting your customer to engage or re-engage with your business.

Mark also thinks about re-hash and referrals in terms of how you layer your tech together. “It’s super important to track your customers all in one place and tie the data together” or it will be easy for these re-hash customers to slip through the cracks and miss out on easy business.


Finding, implementing, and utilizing tech is critical to running a smooth and successful operation as younger generations enter the housing market and as the home improvement workforce trends younger.  Identifying the best specialized solutions for your business and having a willingness to adapt will be critical steps to generate success in the years to come.

For full access to the content we covered, the recording can be found here.

You can also learn more about getting started with Hearth here.

Our panelists can be found at:

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