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The Wise & Houzz

Top remodelers use home-remodeling-and-design web platform Houzz to generate leads.

April 01, 2014
Epic Development featured this North Atlanta project as part of their Houzz portfolio. Over 100 Houzz users saved this image to their Ideabook. Users also generated dozens of comments and questions related to the project. Three additional images of the project take Houzz users inside the home.

Epic Development featured this North Atlanta project as part of their Houzz portfolio. Over 100 Houzz users saved this image to their Ideabook. Users also generated dozens of comments and questions related to the project. Three additional images of the project take Houzz users inside the home.

Three years ago, David Roberts, president of Roberts Design Build, had a client ask him to look at an Ideabook on Houzz.com. The client wanted to share pictures of a kitchen cabinet style she wanted Roberts to use for a design-build project. This was the first time Roberts had been asked to view a client’s Ideabook, a concept radically different from how design ideas were previously exchanged between the remodeler and the client.

“In decades past, our clients would buy magazines and tear out photos they liked to show me,” Roberts says.

Once Roberts joined Houzz to view the Ideabook, which is a visual communication tool that makes it easier and more efficient for homeowners and remodelers to discuss design ideas, he quickly realized the potential of electronically sharing design ideas with clients.

“As Houzz grew and more of my clients became aware of it, I saw the marketing value for our design-build company in addition to the sharing of ideas,” Roberts says.

In the three years since creating the Roberts Design Build Houzz portfolio, Roberts says it has evolved into a marketing tool to share project photos, show potential clients the reviews their past clients have written about their positive experience working with Roberts Design Build, act as a material and product selection catalog, and track what other successful design and construction companies in the remodeling industry are doing.

What can Houzz do for you?

Your remodeling firm already has a website, a Facebook page, and Twitter and Pinterest accounts. How does a Houzz portfolio fit into this complicated scheme of electronic marketing strategies?

Currently, more than 350,000 home improvement professionals, builders, architects, and designers use the free options available on Houzz as a business tool to interact with clients, both existing and prospective, as well as other professionals locally and around the globe. More than 16 million people use Houzz every month—90 percent of whom are homeowners. Homeowners are using Houzz to gather design ideas to remodel their house from start to finish.

6 Quick Tips for a Successful Houzz Portfolio

1. Professional photography is a must
2. Organize photos by project architectural style and room type
3. See your Houzz portfolio through the eyes of a potential partner
4. Push clients to make Ideabooks
5. Respond to homeowner’s questions about projects and products
6. Pre-qualify all inquiries by location and budget

Typically, the homeowner will visit Houzz to create and then share the Ideabook with a remodeler. The Ideabook is made up of visually driven content and online data collection and includes anything the homeowner may find interesting in a house that can be found on any one of the thousands of Houzz portfolios, which have nearly 3 million photos of home interiors and exteriors as well as products in which the client might be interested. Homeowners can then share the Ideabook with their remodeler to help communicate their vision as well as to collaborate with others involved in the renovation project.

Specifically, homeowners can go to your Houzz portfolio and save a photo of any room, product, or design idea they would like to incorporate into a project in their Ideabook.

Additionally, design trends and styles can be categorized or searched on Houzz, and homeowners can contact remodelers to ask what products were used on a project; and, perhaps most importantly, homeowners can connect with a local remodeler to discuss their project.

Because Houzz is a design tool for clients, the remodeler encourages potential clients to create Ideabooks, which the remodeler can also use to show a subcontractor exactly how a specific detail on the remodeling job should be executed. Professionals can also create Ideabooks with images and products they recommend for a client, then share the Ideabook for feedback. It’s a very efficient way to communicate, as it’s often challenging for homeowners to articulate their vision.

“We have them create Ideabooks and work with our designers, which makes the process easier for our clients to convey what they are looking for design- and style-wise,” says Lainey Dryer, director of WOW!, Henderer Design+Build.

On the flip side, remodelers find Houzz useful because they can promote their work and expertise while also reaching the consumer and generating the ever-important leads.

“We see Houzz as an opportunity to showcase our work before a large, interested audience, many of whom are seeking design ideas and remodeling professionals,” says Harry Braswell, president, Harry Braswell Inc.

Houzz portfolios have grown into a critical electronic contact point between a homeowner and a remodeler.

“We use Houzz because it is a simple and visual communication tool for exposure to build client interest and trust, plus it connects us to relevant design styles and ideas,” says Michelle Turner, operations manager, By Design Builders.

Your Houzz portfolio is an independent resource for homeowners who are looking for inspiration and design ideas for their homes. It is focused on design elements, trends, and specific products used for a project such as the appliances, faucets and fixtures, windows, and much more. In a remodeler’s profile, homeowners can find information about the company, services the firm offers, images of past projects, reviews from past clients, any certifications and awards, areas the remodeler serves, contact information, and posts the company has made on Houzz.

“Houzz is a good place for homeowners to find your remodeling company when they are planning a remodeling project and are looking for design ideas,” says Kelly Anderson, general manager, Ironwood Custom Builders

More importantly, your Houzz portfolio is another lead-generating tool for your remodeling business.

“If we can prove to be thought leaders in this space by providing beautiful photos and useful information, homeowners in our area can contact us to make an appointment to talk about their project,” says Kristina Ferrigan, director of marketing, Normandy Remodeling.

Because Houzz is a lead-generation tool that introduces a remodeler to potential clients, it is not intended to draw homeowners away from a remodeler’s website. In fact, the Houzz portfolio serves as another channel to build a remodeler’s brand online, and it is designed to push the homeowner to visit the remodeler’s website.

“Houzz does not diminish the importance of our company website and the role our company website plays in the gathering process of prospective customers,” Ferrigan says.

Your Houzz portfolio can get people’s attention in that forum, but a remodeler’s website still gives the homeowner a fuller picture of everything your company does including an in-depth description of your abilities and company history.

A remodeler’s website is designed to attract prospects and take the homeowner on a deeper dive into the remodeling company and its work. The webpages are streamlined to keep readers focused and succinct in terms of how the remodeler can help the homeowner complete a remodeling project.

Houzz should be viewed as a secondary reinforcement to your remodeling company’s design and work. A remodeling company can convey the scope of its designs to the homeowner before they even communicate. Through reviews and discussions on Houzz, homeowners can also get a feel for how a remodeler works with clients. Homeowners can see your work through a vast array of project images, which should give them an idea of what they like or dislike for a specific project.

“Our company strives to be driven by design so we want to be easily found on websites including Houzz that may lead up to a potential buyer becoming an actual buyer,” says Jim LaValle, vice president, Epic Development.

Houzz is another aspect of your company branding and SEO formula designed to expose your company to as many potential clients as possible.

Strategies that work

One of the most important features of your Houzz portfolio is photography. When remodelers upload an image, they have the opportunity to add information about what the photo depicts, the metro area where the project took place, and the style of the space; they can also identify items in the photos with Houzz’s Green Tag feature.

Visit the Houzz portfolio of the remodelers in this article, simply click on the company name below

By Design Builders
Epic Development
Harry Braswell Inc.
Henderer Design Build
Ironwood Custom Builders
Normandy Remodeling
Roberts Design Build
USI Design & Remodeling

“This information helps the photos surface in relevant searches. Descriptions of the space and project can also aid potential new clients in their decision-making process,” says Liza Hausman, vice president of community for Houzz.

You want to create a stunning presentation because the Houzz portfolios are all visual. The quality of photos on your page can determine whether or not a homeowner will contact you. It’s very simple: Excellent photos organized in a cohesive manner generate leads, and bad photos cause your Houzz portfolio to be ignored.

“Professional photography is a must to make a high impact,” LaValle says. “Also, make sure you think through how you want to organize your photos. We organize by architectural style and room type versus by specific projects or street address.”

LaValle believes the proper organization of Houzz images are more intuitive for users searching by a specific type of image. He also keeps the content on his company’s Houzz portfolio fresh by adding at least one new image per day.

Some remodelers have different strategies pertaining to photos on their Houzz page.

“We post new photos about every six weeks. In total, we have 100,000 photos that are saved annually (the same image can be saved multiple times) by Houzz users. That equates to someone saving one of our images every 5 minutes,” says Chris Chumbley, vice president, USI Design & Remodeling. For instance, Chumbley also tracks photos to see what can be done to improve the results on the company’s Houzz portfolio.

It’s actually very important to create a compelling profile on Houzz. This is where prospective clients will go for information, so remodelers want to be sure to provide a good sense of who they are and what makes them different from other industry pros.

“See everything on your Houzz portfolio through the eyes of a potential partner,” Chumbley says. “Bad merchandising is as pivotal as good merchandising. Nothing is unimportant.”

Houzz encourages remodelers to be active, contributing members of the community; therefore, engagement with the homeowner is strongly encouraged. Remodelers can get involved with the Houzz community through discussions by clicking on “Advice.” Seeing how remodeling professionals interact through discussions on Houzz provides homeowners with a glimpse into their workstyle and demonstrates their expertise, making it easier and more comfortable for homeowners to pick up the phone and make that first call.

“For our portfolio, we’ve found that you need to add photos as frequently as possible and provide adequate descriptions and details about the photos,” Ferrigan says.

By maximizing your exposure on Houzz, it is comparable to increasing exposure in search engines.

“We try to be as complete as possible with the information we share, which helps homeowners find our photos as well as the Houzz editors who create additional theme-based Ideabooks that are shared in regular email blasts,” Ferrigan says.

Managing your Houzz portfolio

One question remodelers have regarding Houzz: Will it create more work for me? Yes it will, however, the effort you put into a Houzz portfolio can end up in more leads for your business.

In many remodeling companies, there is a designated person responsible for updating the website, social media, and Houzz portfolio. Typically, those responsible are members of the marketing team.

“Our marketing department manages our Houzz portfolio and seeks out the expertise of our design team, architecture team, and production team as relevant questions are raised,” Ferrigan says.

For example, many visitors to your Houzz portfolio will send questions or ask for more information regarding a specific product or project. Even if you don’t have an answer to a homeowner’s question, it is still good business to respond because the engagement can be a stepping stone to the relationship.

“We’ve found that homeowners ask all sorts of questions about our project photos. Even if we do not know the answer to a question such as ‘Where did you get that lamp?’ we still respond by letting them know the information is not available to us and direct them to a resource that may be helpful,” Ferrigan says.

Does Houzz work?

As with many print and online marketing and advertising strategies used by remodelers, it can be difficult to correlate the relationship between a lead and the sale. However, some remodelers have quantified the direct link between their Houzz portfolio and leads.

“Beginning in 2012, we noted that we were receiving higher-quality leads from Houzz compared to other web-related search engines, and they corresponded with the addition of client reviews of our work on our Houzz portfolio,” Roberts says.

Remodelers who use Houzz learn how to screen the inquiries they receive, which can come either through an email message on the Houzz dashboard or directly by phone or email.

First, find out the location of potential clients to make sure they live in your market area. If they are located out of your area, it’s best to refer the homeowner to another remodeler who better suits their geography. Second, ask homeowners about their budget as well as their commitment to a remodeling project in that first phone call or email. It’s important to get the budget out in the open before any commitment is made to meet face-to-face with potential clients. You don’t want to waste time if the budget is not realistic. 

“We’ve converted higher percentages of Houzz leads into revenue projects than other online source leads,” Roberts says.

 In 2013 and early 2014, Roberts says his firm was engaged in or had completed 12 projects that were directly sourced from Houzz leads. During the same time period, Roberts was engaged in or had completed a total of 37 projects.

“Houzz accounted for 33 percent of our projects. Plus, we received Best of Houzz Awards for 2012, 2013, and 2014. This gives us a stronger marketing position in what’s considered the online darling of the remodeling industry,” Roberts says. PR


About the Author



Great article, Houzz has been great for my business (Vivid Painting). It allows us to organize our past projects in a user friendly setting that we can point potential customers to for ideas. It also allows us to add a variety of styles and trends used in the industry for pitches to prospective customers. I don't know of any direct sales we have gotten from Houzz, but it has certainly helped us close them. 

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