Web Sites Speak to Serious Customers

by WOHe

I recently stopped at the dry cleaners with one of
my friends in tow. Unfortunately, the place wasn’t able to
immediately locate my shirt. They were locating clothing by
description that day, so I explained that it was long sleeved and
green.

Clothes spun by on the clothing carousel at a
dizzying rate, while my friend, the cleaner and I concentrated on
catching a glimpse of green. “There it is!” I shouted.

“That’s not green!” my friend exclaimed.

“Yes it is!” I said emphatically.

“No it’s not,” she countered.

It occurred to me that rather than continue a
conversation that was going nowhere, I should ask her what color
she was seeing.

“Robin’s egg blue,” she said.

I didn’t see that at all, but we were both so sure
that the rest of the world would agree with our individual side
that we polled people on their way into the cleaners as we were
walking out with the found shirt.

It’s interesting to me how different people have
different points of view on the same subject.

While I think it’s only human nature to want to
argue your own side, if you can harness your line of thinking for a
moment, listening to another’s point of view is a great learning
tool, even when you are right.

Where am I going with this line of thought? To the
Internetof course!

Netting Business
I’ve noticed that kitchen
designers use their Web sites differently to bring in business.
Some kitchen designers use their sites as a way to get rid of tire
kickers. Many kitchen designers are referral-based and use their
Web sites to help Mrs. Jones refer Mrs. Smith to them. Yet others
have businesses in locations such as Colorado and Florida, where
people have second homes. Web sites are an invaluable tool in this
case to bring in business from a distance.

Still other kitchen designers use their Web sites
as an online showroom.

Take designer Paula Kennedy, CKD, based in the
Seattle area. Paula is what I’d call a “one-woman band.” Paula will
do the design work, sell the client the cabinetry, or both. It is
Paula handling every facet of the job she is hired for. She started
Timeless Designs a few years ago and works out of a home
office.

There is no showroom.

She recently told me, “My Web site
(www.TimelessKitchen Design.com) makes me look larger and more
professional. It is the best selling tool I have. I am doing the
Seattle Home Book, which is really expensive, and I don’t know how
many hands it’s getting into.”
With her Web site, at any time, Paula can see how many people are
checking her out online by reviewing her tracking. Tracking is
simply software that allows you to view the number of people
visiting your Web site. Depending on the software, you can get
extremely detailed information, or stick with such basic
information as the number of people visiting your site, where they
are being referred from (another Web site or a search engine), and
what they are looking at on your site.

One of the things Paula likes most about her site
is that “it almost sells me without me having to do anything. In
fact, I get such good feedback from it, I hate for people not to
see it. It really shows my personality. The people who find me
through my Web site are more educated, more ready to buy. I would
say they are generally a higher-end client.” Paula estimates that
she gets about half of her clients from her Web site.

Barb Eager, CKD, of Eager Designs
(www.EagerDesigns.com) in Columbus, OH says most of her business
comes from word of mouth. Barb is also a “one-woman band,” working
out of a home office and without a showroom.

“I’m in an unusual market, and my site saves me a
lot of time, because I use my site to qualify people. When
potential clients visit my site, they educate themselves on their
timeline. I don’t have to take a lot of time to answer a lot of
questions from people who won’t use my services or [who will later
realize] I am out of their price range.”

Paula agrees that her Web site saves her a lot of
time and prevents her from being ‘shopped.’

“I think that most people who are mid-range pricing
are shopping around more and are getting estimates and pricing. It
seems that the Home Depot people are not as likely to be searching
for service on the Internet. I don’t get a lot of tire kickers from
my site,” she said.

Selling Ahead
Something I’d never thought of,
but I’ve been told by many kitchen designers, is that Web sites can
be used to take the edge off of hard selling. Paula told me that
she loves her site because the hard sell is not her strong
suit.

“My Web site is great because I don’t have to do
anything. Once the client sees my site and then calls me on the
phone, it’s easy. There isn’t all that hard selling. I hate the
hard selling,” she says with a laugh.

In fact, Paula’s largest design fee and cabinetry
order involved no hard selling at all. A couple who’d been living
near Seattle was moving back to Prague, in the Czech Republic, and
found Paula via her Web site. “They wanted American cabinetry for
the qualityand a designer who was willing to work with the metric
system,” Paula told me. The cabinetry was crated and shipped over
to Prague and Paula excitedly mentioned that she’d get to go over
at least once to oversee the project.

While Prague isn’t exactly right around the corner,
the couple was. Paula said that her site does a good job of pulling
in local people, because it is engineered correctly from a
technical standpoint. “Everyone I talk to tells me that my site
comes up at the top (of the search engine listings). Our area is so
Internet crazyit’s just perfect.”

Barb surmises that her Columbus market is a lot
more conservative than Paula’s Seattle area and that there probably
aren’t as many people online in her neck of the U.S. “But, the
number of people online is only going to grow in number. Anything
that saves me time, like my Web site, is great. I don’t have to
maintain a showroom in order to do what I want.”

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