Dream Doors franchisees' sales are up 50 percent in 2012, the same level of growth it took the previous three years to achieve. For an off-line kitchen facelift retailer like Dream Doors, those figures buck an industry-wide downward trend, and it has online innovations to thank for its success.
Two year ago, web-based enquiries accounted for less than five percent of franchisees' sales. The website played its part, but it was something that potential customers visited after seeing an advert, calling into the showroom or being referred to the company by an existing customer.
At the end of 2010, Dream Doors began to invest more into its online marketing activities. It employed a digital marketing expert, initiated pay-per-click campaigns and improved the website's functionality. To good effect too, for at the end of 2011 franchisees' sales attributed directly to internet enquiries increased fivefold to £1.3million.
This year, that figure has doubled again. The website is generating 30 percent of all enquiries, and for some franchisees it's generating more than half of their sales. Moreover, it offers a greater return on investment, taking up just ten percent of the marketing budget.
“Dream Doors has diversified this year,” says its Online Marketing Manager, Jon O'Connell. “From social media to email marketing, and obviously a targeted pay-per-click campaign, we're deploying proven marketing strategies across all areas online. But we're not frightened to pioneer new activities either, and importantly we monitor everything to assess its impact.”
He's tight-lipped about the tools of his trade, but Jon's employers – indirectly all 45 Dream Doors franchisees – are more interested in the results than the means. “We can't give all our secrets away,” he says. “But the most important thing is that they're working. My job is to generate quality enquiries for franchisees. And they're now getting up to ten times the number of online leads and sales than they were three years ago.”
Traditional forms of media such as print and radio remain relevant to Dream Doors, as does the credibility of the showroom. And that's largely because three quarters of its customers are of retirement age. But many retirees, the so-called 'silver surfers', now do their research on their PCs long before heading to the shops. A fact acknowledged by Roy Easthope, who owns the Dream Doors franchise for Croydon and Bromley. “A strong site presence and associated marketing is crucial as there are no longer age barriers to entry,” he says. “Silver surfers spend more time online these days. Plus, we've found people go online to check us out before calling the showroom, and some have even declined brochures as they prefer to use the site.”