Quote Countertops industry-leading sales and marketing, lead-generating software modernizes the way consumers shop for and buy countertops. The web-based software engages and empowers consumers early in the sales process to both design their dream kitchen or bath and create a fast and accurate quote, all before stepping into a showroom or speaking to a salesperson. The software is easily integrated into and promoted on company websites, social media platforms, digital advertising and email marketing. Stone World magazine had the opportunity to speak to Frank Sciarrino, the chief operating officer of Quote Countertops, about the stone industry moving forward.

SW: Especially after COVID-19, why should fabricators focus on improving technology in their business?

FS: If there’s a single lesson or takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that the way we’ve done business in the past has forever changed. Lockdowns prevented face-to-face selling, and consumers flocked online looking for solutions. Our customers noted that traffic to their digital and social platforms spiked. They generated increased leads through their online design and quoting tools, they took their showroom visits virtually by connecting with prospects and customers through Zoom and other video conferencing, and as a result closed business even when their showrooms were not accessible to in-person visits. They don’t see these workarounds to conducting business changing anytime soon.

The pandemic has reinforced the fact that shopping habits and expectations have changed. They’re more comfortable shopping and buying for kitchen and bathroom construction and renovation products and services online. Investing in technology is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must have.

So for those without an online presence right now, is it too late for them or is there still a chance for them?

FS: They may be a little late to the party, but the party’s not over. You have to have an online presence if you want to remain viable in any business. Before COVID-19 most companies recognized the importance of having a strong online presence. And those companies are ahead of the curve. Others who didn’t invest in their online presence are using this time to catch up to their competition.

More than 87% of people start their buying journey online. If you’re not online or have a so-so presence, you’re likely missing out on a lot of business. E-commerce spending in the U.S. is up more than 30% from the beginning of March through mid-April compared with the same period last year. People aren’t just shopping online. E-commerce statistics say they’re spending more in online stores than physical stores for the first time in history.

The pandemic has changed the way we meet face to face (Zoom conferencing), how we learn (virtual classrooms), how we order takeout (GrubHub), how we buy groceries. It’s also changed the way we shop for countertops.

It’s not too late to make some changes to your digital presence including a modern, customer experience-focused website with engaging tools and videos, being active on social media channels like Facebook and Instagram, investing time on your Google My Business, and promoting yourself with targeted online promotions with Google and social media ads. 

What are some ways fabricators should be using technology to improve their business?

FS: Fabricators should be using technology to improve their sales and marketing as well as creating efficiencies with scheduling and production. The technology out there can improve sales, increase brand awareness, generate more profit, ensure better customer service and manage the production process with greater efficiency.

Here’s an example of how fabricators are using our software technology to build their business. On the upfront sales end, our software acts as a 24/7 sales person. It lets consumers design their dream kitchen or bathroom anytime, anywhere, on any device without the need of a salesperson. In exchange, consumers provide their personal information for their sales teams to follow-up with and close the sale. We see 14% lead capture with our tool versus the standard 1 to 2% lead capture through a contact us form on a website.

On the backend, this lead information is managed through our built-in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. Other CRM tools on the market include SalesForce, HubSpot and others all with the same goal of managing lead and customer information to increase your sales. Without a CRM system in place, as much as 79% of generated leads fail to convert.

The same is true with fabricators using technology to automate their scheduling and production processes once a lead is converted to a job. Marrying the upfront and backend processes will result in happier customers and more business and profits. 

I assume with all this technology you will also be able to present more sales and add-on options to your customers as well?

FS: Absolutely. Consumers don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy. Technology like our visualizer and quoting software put the consumer in control of the buying process. When given control and options, they've been shown to be willing to buy more.

As an example, we worked with one of our customers to conduct an online versus showroom sales case study. We compared sales from their gorgeous showroom with $10 million in slab inventory to sales generated through our tools located on their website during a one-year
timeframe (January 2018 to January 2019).

The results were impressive. Sales generated through their online tools exceeded their showroom sales. In addition, the average ticket sale online increased 30% (from $3,000 to $4,000) by allowing customers to purchase add-on options during the online quoting process such as a Granite Gold® Protection Plan. The software is customized to lead consumers and salespeople through buying steps, where nothing is left on the table including upgrades and other options. When presented with the option, most customers buy.

The technology exists and it’s just a matter of using it to its full potential. For some reason, most fabricators don’t take advantage of this and don’t offer upgrades and add-ons. They’re missing out on additions to the bottom line without any added overhead. Think of that $1,000 cell phone. You don’t walk out with the phone only. You walk out with the phone, insurance or warranty protection, a phone case, screen protector and headphones. Consumers buy options if they’re presented with them.

As we get to the other side of this pandemic, how have you seen or do you see business changing?

FS: Like I mentioned before, the way we conducted business in the past is forever changed. Consumers have become even more reliant and comfortable using online platforms for the majority of their purchases. They’ve enjoyed the ease of use, the instant gratification and time saving of things like Zoom meetings and full E-commerce functions for items they never thought would be possible to buy online, including a new kitchen or bath.

And with stay-at-home orders, consumers are spending more time in that kitchen or bathroom that they’ve grown to hate. They’re using the time to conduct online research and trying to use this “free time” to get to those projects they never had time to before. They’re online discovering and using design and quoting software. They’re using the fabricator’s website as a virtual showroom and acting as their own salesperson 24/7. They’re meeting with fabricators by virtual conferencing, buying countertops and scheduling jobs without ever stepping into a showroom. In fact, we talked to a customer who did $120,000 in retail sales last week alone.

It’s a new reality. And businesses need to adapt and evolve or potentially face extinction.