Updated Web Sites Pay Dividends

by WOHe

What would you say if someone said to you “Hey, Ms. Kitchen
Dealer/Designer/Fabricator, I know a great, efficient way to
increase your sales, cut down on tire kickers and educate your
consumer before they even walk through your doors (which, of
course, lessens the amount of’time you will need to spend
educating them)?”‘

What if they added, “By the way, this method is much less
expensive than a Yellow Pages ad, and as an added benefit, if your
business is located in a vacation area or a town that people even
occasionally move into, it’s a great way to target that out-of-town
group, without having to advertise in every city in North
America?”
You’d probably ask where you could sign on the dotted line!

What are you signing on the dotted line for? Simply, a Web
site.

Whether you’re a company owner, a designer, a fabricator or a
cabinet shop owner, over the last few years, you’ve probably been
just trying to keep your heads above water due to the surge in
remodeling. Things have been busy at the office, which has left you
even less family time and even less time to accomplish almost
anything other than what needed your immediate attention that day.
Do you realize these years have coincided with the advent of the
Internet?

I’ve heard it repeatedly: There just hasn’t been the time to get
things done that you’ve wanted to, like setting up that Web site
you’ve been meaning to get to.’

Even for those of you who have found the time to set up Web
sites, many of you have found time to keep those sites up to
date.

Updating your site
Even if you have a Web site, if you’re not keeping it up to date,
your Web site could be driving away potential clients. Does your
Web site look amateurish, causing potential clients to lose
confidence in your company right off the bat? For those of you who
have had your Web site designed more than two years ago and who
have made minimal changes since then that site is probably out of
date from a Web standpoint.’

Kitchen and bath industry Web sites began springing up some four
years ago. Since then, the Web has advanced many
generations.’

What do I mean by generations? When the Web first began, Web
sites were simply made up of words. No pictures or graphics were
involved. Then, Web sites started containing graphics or photos in
hopes of grabbing people’s attention. Yet, this generally slows
down the amount of time it takes for the Web page to show up on
your screen, otherwise known as download time.’

Next, more and more people were able to commonly access the Web
via high-speed connections like T-1s and cable connections. These
give users better connection options and allow them to download Web
pages faster. I could go on, but now you get the idea of what a Web
generation is. It is basically every time something changes or is
offered on the Web to enhance how users access the Web and how that
information gets to the end user.

So, even as your showroom and design skills are constantly being
updated, your Web site could be the visual equivalent of a tired,
old man. Perhaps you forget to update your area code or change out
your kitchen design photos once in a while. Before you know it,
your Web site is not assisting you in your final goal of selling
and educating potential clients. Quite simply, it’s driving people
away.

How do you avoid this? Simple: Remember your Web site during
your daily routine. Whether you like it or not, to be a viable
business today, you need a Web site, no matter how small or large
your company. The best way to keep your site current is to remember
to update it when you update other things around the office, such
as logos, business cards, etc. Make a date quarterly to glance over
your site and make sure all the information is correct. At the rate
the Web is changing today, you should schedule your site for a
complete overhaul approximately every two to three years.

No site yet?
I’m always curious as to why anyone in the kitchen and bath
industry would not have a site yet for his or her business. Some of
the most popular reasons I’ve heard are:

1. I can’t keep up with everything as it is, why would I want to
bring in more business via a Web site?
2. I’m in a small town and everyone knows where I am. Why do I need
a site when I’m right on Main Street, U.S.A?
3. I just want local clients. The Web reaches everyone all over. I
don’t want to be contacted other than by local people.’

Let me address Reason 1 first: Yes, we love Web sites because
they bring in business. But, used the proper way, they will
also’get rid of your dreaded tire kickers. Instead of just
using your site as a way to bring in business, think of it as more
of a way to’qualify your clients.’

How do you do this? If you just do high-end kitchen design,
write the verbiage on your site at a level higher than the average
eighth-grade reading level. Use phrases such as “our design work is
for the discriminating homeowner.” Why not put the price points of
your average kitchen and bathroom on your site? If your average
kitchen remodel is $30,000, use your Web site to deter the $10,000
client.’

Reason #2: Our nation today is more transient than ever. People
don’t work at the same companies in the same towns forever. Many
cabinet and appliance manufacturers are located in small towns all
over. They regularly grow their businesses and need to look outside
of their local area for employees. Before these people even move,
they are online looking for remodeling help for their new homes in
the new town they are moving to.

Reason #3: The Web is a wonderful way to reach local clients.
How? Just tell people, via the verbiage on your site, what towns
you work in.’

Having a Web site an up-to-date site benefits everyone at your
company.

Designers/employees benefit from better-educated consumers
(which means less time taken to sell a potential client) and owners
benefit due to bigger and better sales opportunities. With all this
time and money thanks to your siteyou may just be able to take that
family vacation this year!’

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