There is a saying:
Every problem looks like a nail when all you have on your tool belt is a hammer.
This is as true for software development as it is for carpentry.
I recall this statement because, as we make our way into 2020, I think about how far we’ve come as a company and as an industry.
For example, it would be easy to see each of our clients’ business challenges as one that can be solved with visualization software alone. After all, the Renoworks team has been providing this solution for the past 20 years.
However, the reality for our clients is that their businesses are very complex.
Their needs reach beyond visualization and require solutions that allow them to exert more influence over the “construction value chain.”
From design, configuration, measurement, quoting, and completion of a project, the ability to control the customer’s journey along the value chain has historically been out of reach for most of our clients. We intend to change this in 2020.
What our Clients are Saying
Over the past year, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with more Renoworks clients than ever before.
These conversations involve members from every Renoworks department, including marketing, customer success, sales, and product. Our goal: To help our clients achieve their business objectives in 2020, whether those objectives are related to building material visualization or otherwise.
“Our goal: To help our clients achieve their business objectives in 2020, whether those objectives are related to building material visualization or otherwise.”
In other words, we put the visualization “hammer” aside during these conversations and focus on the bigger picture of what matters to our clients’ businesses.
These discussions allowed me to reflect on the development of the Renoworks platform in 2019 and how our products and services align with our clients’ business objectives.
The clients we spoke with included building product manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers specializing in multiple industry categories (eg. Siding, Roofing, Masonry, etc.). Every business has a different mix of commercial and residential sales, and they focused on different sales channels, regions, products and customer segments.
Despite the differences in channel and customer mix, they all faced these common challenges:
1. Digital Strategy
2019 was not free of industry challenges. Many clients encountered obstacles to growth in the form of labor shortages, regulatory uncertainty, and regional and channel sales numbers that were less than hoped for.
In light of these and other challenges, Renoworks clients are making their digital marketing strategy a priority to stay competitive. This means a renewed focus on their web presence, including their visualizer platforms, brand, content, social media, and other digital assets.
There is a distinct and shared understanding that the construction industry is growing more complex and digital every year. Amid this digital evolution and adoption, more clients are looking closely at their Renoworks visualizer analytics reports (something we make a point of providing every client with each month). After reviewing these reports, clients are seeing their visualizer platforms as a valuable and often under-leveraged digital asset.
At one time, there was a common perception that a building product company needs a visualizer simply because the competition has one. That perception has drastically changed over the past few years.
In 2019, Renoworks powered design experiences for over 2 million unique users across hundreds of client visualizer platforms – a steady increase of 14% over 2018.
“In 2019, Renoworks powered design experiences for over 2 million unique users across hundreds of client visualizer platforms – a steady increase of 14% over 2018.”
As our clients look at the engagement numbers and results, they see the opportunities to integrate their visualization platforms more closely with their broader digital sales and marketing strategies.
2. Lead Generation
Lead generation and sales enablement is another area clients are focusing on as a way to support channel growth and gain share in the market.
Many clients are planning to implement or refresh their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) strategies and improve the way leads are captured, segmented, and sent to various sales channels in 2020. Hubspot, Salesforce, Marketo, and Microsoft Dynamics were the most popular CRM’s among clients in 2019, although we did integrations with many more platforms, such as Marketsharp, Sharpspring, and Pardot.
Renoworks Design Services is resonating with clients as an effective way to convert qualified consumer leads into actual sales, with 95% of Design Services survey respondents expressing that they were “100%” or “very likely” to purchase the client’s products. Design Services survey data for 2019 also produced world-class NPS (Net Promoter Scores) and positive testimonials for our clients to use in their marketing content. Seeing the positive conversion and lead generation results of the past year (when compared to industry benchmarks), many clients are incorporating design services-based campaigns in 2020 to capture leads and carve out more market share with valuable and attractive services.
3. Measurements & Take-Off
Many of our clients already offer take-off services to help configure, price, and quote (“CPQ”) for their customers, which often includes the use of aerial measurement services.
Accordingly, the prospect of unifying clients’ visualization, take-off, and quoting services with Renoworks FastTrack presents a significant opportunity to achieve their business objectives in 2020.
The launch of Renoworks FastTrack in 2019 resonates with our clients. Our partnership with Geomni enabled us to build out a robust 3D Visualization & Measurements platform “engine” that can be fueled by multiple compatible sources of measurements. Work is underway to incorporate additional data sources for release very soon.
4. User Experience
User experience is extremely important to our clients because interaction with the Renoworks platform is often the first impression a customer has of their brand and products.
Clients are receiving feedback from users that they want an easier way to design their property that does not involve manual photo preparation. Users want the experience simplified.
Renoworks Design Services has helped immensely with this challenge and the launch of Renoworks A.I. Auto-Recognition in 2019 has taken it a step further by allowing users to start visualizing products on their homes in less than 60 seconds.
In addition to upgrading an unprecedented number of clients to the latest version of our platform, these developments help ensure the end-user has a positive experience on our clients’ visualizer platforms.
5. Channel Diversification
As a result of industry challenges (or perhaps in spite of them), many clients are re-focusing on overlooked or emerging sales channels as a way to capture more market share and mitigate risk in a competitive environment.
“[…] many clients are re-focusing on overlooked or emerging sales channels as a way to capture more market share and mitigate risk in a competitive environment.”
This does not mean that traditional one-step/two-step distribution channels are being ignored – only that others are getting some attention now.
For example, many clients are making it a priority to focus on pro contractor, specifier, or direct-to-consumer (DTC) channels. With these channels, the need arises for more sophisticated segmentation, content marketing, and digital marketing strategies that focus on these unique customer personas.
The challenge of focusing on more channels is how to get the right customer to the right channel.
For example, many clients are tackling the challenge of generating homeowner leads and sending DIY’ers to their DTC channel, homeowners to their contractor channels, and contractors to their dealer/distributor channels.
As a result, demand is increasing for more analytics insights, data, marketing software integrations, and a more sophisticated lead generation and nurturing processes on their Renoworks Visualizer Platform.
In 2019, Renoworks responded to these client challenges by implementing improved CRM integrations, refining the process for segmenting and sending leads to clients, developing coupons and promo code capabilities and improving our analytics reporting to serve up more useful insights that our clients can act upon.
Looking Forward to 2020
As our clients increasingly adopt digital technologies and business goals shift, we as a company are continually updating our product and service offerings to stay in lock-step. We have moved beyond visualization, and look towards measurement, artificial intelligence, Design Services, and other offerings (a “tool-chain”) to help our clients increase their control over more of the construction value chain and better engage with their customers.
Our discussions with clients in 2019 made it clear that our vision of evolving the Renoworks platform to be more than just a visualization tool is the right direction.
For some clients, that means a lead generation tool for when their customer says, “I’m done designing, what’s next?” and for some clients, that means an omnibus solution that takes the customer from design, to measurement, to quoting, to sale.
Amid this exciting time for Renoworks, we also look forward to celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. The timing will be fitting as we bring our company, our work, and the investment in our platform over the past few years to market.
We look forward to helping make 2020 a banner year for both our clients and the broader industry, and to not just being a “hammer.”
Sincere best wishes,
CEO of Renoworks Software Inc.