Last month in this space, I reviewed a series of market projections for 2014 from Harvard University as well as the industry’s leading associations.
Here are some tips on how remodelers can build Web sites that will meet a client's expectations.
The best remodelers can no longer content themselves with listings in the Yellow Pages and local papers. Homeowners are accustomed to Internet shopping and research, often using Web sites to help them make product choices and project decisions. As more remodelers recognize and market to clients' Web-savvy, more remodeling companies market their services online.
As with any design project, it's critical that the creation of a remodeler's Web site meets clients' needs and expectations. With nearly unlimited possibilities, it's easy to veer off-track or bombard visitors with too much information. The following guidelines help remodelers focus on what clients need while meeting marketing needs.
Know who your visitors are. Most visitors to a remodeler's Web site are homeowners who don't have an established relationship with a local remodeler and are investigating possibilities for upcoming projects. Some will be idly considering jobs and others will be conducting serious research, but in either case, these homeowners have not yet begun making inquiry calls.
Offer useful information--not flashy design. These preliminary-stage customers are looking for a solid sense of a remodeler's style, services and experience off the Internet, to shorten their call list. Within a few clicks, every visitor should know what type of projects your company can tackle, what additional services (such as in-house design or financing) you offer, who primary contacts are, and how best to contact your company. E-mail addresses, telephone numbers, mailing addresses and examples of work are all must-haves.
Know what you don't need. Clients aren't likely to spend time downloading tons of different project photos, nor are they inclined to read long mission statements or company policies. Online stores, financial calculators, and other interactive gadgetry may seem impressive, but shouldn't be the focus of your site.
Give visitors a reason to return. Instead of flashy toys, offer your prospects useful tools that will prompt them to bookmark and return to your site. Links to manufacturers' sites, remodeling industry news, and consumer-targeted tip centers are all simple tools that can help a customer remember your site and visit again.
Keep your site updated. Most remodelers contract outside companies to create and maintain their sites. It's important, however, to keep providing Web designers with up-to-date information so that your site can continuously remain current. It's equally important to respond to Web leads in as timely a manner as any telephone lead or walk-in.