Says Scott Gregor, of Master Plan Remodeling in Portland, OR, “Having a Web site seems to qualify me. People expect it. And when you can say, ‘Check out my Web site,’ it seems to assure them that I am the kind of cutting-edge remodeler they want to consider working on their project.”
If you are not on the Web yet, you’re not alone. According to the latest Remodeling Market Index (RMI), while 96% of survey respondents indicated they own a personal computer at work, only 48% currently have a company Web site. If you are part of the 52% without Web sites, don’t worry, you still have time to remedy the situation and grow your business.
Create a ‘Living,’ Evolving Online Company Brochure
By creating a Web site, remodelers can produce a “living” company brochure, one that can easily be updated economically (sometimes for no charge) and at less cost than creating and re-creating most print advertising.
John Keohane, of Keohane Construction in Dedham, MA, views his company’s Web site as advertising. “Everyone has an ad in the Yellow Pages to give themselves credibility. My Web site is another advertising avenue to show people who we are and what we do, and it enables them to get more information about our company,” Keohane says. “We actually have the Web site because in today’s market you need credibility, and to some people not having a Web site leads to thoughts that you are not a good company.”
Mark Anderson, of Persona Kitchen and Bath Solutions in Wichita, KS, agrees. “We know people use our site to check us out and make sure we are legitimate,” he says.
“We view our Web site as a low-pressure qualifier. People also like to see what projects we have done and what we can do before they call,” Anderson adds. “We also use our Web site to promote our beautiful showroom. We include a map to our offices and showroom.”
The Sky’s the Limit
Actually, the Internet is virtually limitless. So, when establishing your Web site, let your imagination run free. Depending on future company plans and your Webmaster’s savvy, you can include almost anything on your Web site — links to manufacturers, customer communication tools, audio or video testimonials, virtual project updates, etc.
“I learned some time ago that linking to major manufacturers is the key to increase your traffic,” says Mike Carden, of MUI Corporation in Vestavia Hills, AL. His potential customers know about Hardi-Plank, Therma-Tru and other top name products, so he reasons that the best way to increase leads is to link to the major manufacturers that are a part of his business.
Anderson also links to manufacturers so his customers can see more style and product options than they would see just viewing his existing projects. “We also link to our local HBA’s Web site to show customers we belong to a professional organization. It helps add legitimacy.”
Arthur Kriens, of Kriens Construction in Sioux Falls, SD, sees his site as an evolving portfolio. “We use our Web site as a presentation book that includes pictures of our projects, and our future plans include expanding the presentation book so potential customers will have a good idea of who we are and what we do before they call,” he says. “We believe this will set us apart from our competition and the ‘one-guy-in-a-truck’ operators.”
So, You Want a Web Site, Too?
Where to start?
James E. Hatfield, of Hatfield Construction, Inc., in Colorado Springs, says to keep your Web site simple and easy-to-navigate site and to provide basic, yet pertinent, information and pictures of your work.
Other pointers to consider include:
- Create a professional look.
- Use your site to reflect who you are and what you do. This is an ideal place to pump up your company.
- Include company information and project pictures.
- Spend the money for that high quality, professional site.
“Remember, we as remodeling contractors strive to be professional and our sites should reflect that commitment,” points out Chuck Russell, of Westhill, Inc., in Woodinville, WA.
Lora Deller, of Red Oak Remodeling in York, PA, adds, “Look at other sites in your industry to get ideas to help you start. Pull out ideas that you like and dislike. Look at your competitors’ sites to see how you can make your site different.”
Finally, almost all company owners with Web sites agree — hire a professional Web designer. You are good at what you do; let a professional Web designer do what he or she does best. When deciding whom to use, choose a Web designer you can relate to easily, because you will be working together closely. Just like you would advise your customers to shop around for the “right” contractor, shop around for the right Web designer by looking at sites they have designed.
“Companies without Web sites need to realize that Web sites are not just a fad,” Anderson points out. “This is where consumers get information and do research."
“Today, consumers are more educated and know what they are looking for, and having a Web site is the most cost-effective way to get your company out in front of these potential clients,” he adds. “If you don’t have a Web site the consumer notices, you end up missing an opportunity.”
The NAHB University of Housing Offers Courses and Designation Programs
The NAHB University of Housing offers a variety of business management courses and professional designation programs that set builders and remodelers apart from the competition. For a complete list of current offerings, click here.