THE INTERNET OPPORTUNITY TODAY!
By Kay and Ralph Hudson
Many home builders think their Internet presence has to be an "all or nothing" proposition.
The fact is, without deep pockets or a degree in computer science, you can have an effective Internet presence that will attract new customers, and more.
With little more than the capacity to respond to email, you can benefit from the Internet at a most crucial level new sales.
A relatively simple, well-designed, brochure-like web site, when properly promoted in search engines and directories, will attract new prospects and new sales opportunities.
These simple web sites, which cost just a couple of dollars a day, will frequently out-perform "high-end" web sites in both lead generation and traffic.
As long as your site tells visitors where you build and what you build, some information about your company, shows a few examples of your work, and makes it easy for them to contact you, you can take advantage of the Internet opportunity today.
Remember too, that unlike a home, a web site can be remodeled easily and inexpensively. As you gain experience with your site, changes can be made in response to the kinds of questions your visitors are asking.
For example, at some point you may want to add a virtual tour of a model home, a password-protected customer service section or a subcontractor communication section. All of these functions and more can be added as you go along, but are not necessary at the outset.
A MORE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
At its most basic level, the Internet is already helping many builders increase their sales. And these are not just the top 100, or even the top 500, U.S. builders many builders of fewer than 30 homes a year are increasing sales through affordable web sites.
The Internet has extended traditional "market reach" and is leveling the playing field for local builders. It is giving them the means to make contact with a population of local and relocating buyers that previously only the largest builders could reach.
THE RIGHT TRAFFIC
Although establishing an effective Internet presence requires little in the way of technical knowledge, it does involve more than simply registering a domain name (URL) and creating a web site.
Attracting the right kind of traffic will be your biggest challenge and thats why the job is best outsourced to a site designer with a track record for creating sites that will be indexed by leading search engines.
Its easy enough to get existing customers and prospects to your web site. All you need to do is put your web site address (URL) in all of your printed sales materials and other advertising.
But getting new prospects to your web site is another matter. It requires having links to your web site in the right places in search engines and industry directories. Getting those links to rank well in the search engines requires know-how, both in creating your site and in promoting it online.
Thats because there are millions of web sites, and possibly a billion pages on the Internet today and even the best search engines can index only a fraction of whats out there. Your web site can be compared to a needle in a haystack chances are nobody will find it unless a string is tied to it.
That string comes in the form of links with major search engines and directories. Most people find what they are looking for on the Internet by following links. Linking is the real key to attracting visitors who dont already know you, and who are looking for a builder in your particular market area.
NO REASON TO WAIT
Integrated project management, purchasing and customer service software programs offer bright prospects for more profitable building operations.
Without question, these all-encompassing solutions will save you time and money. Initially, these programs mainly benefited larger building firms that had the assets and computer talent to take advantage of them, but today these programs are designed for any size building company. Contact companies such as BuildSoft.com to learn what they can do for you.
Regardless of how many homes youre building now, the Internet can help you make additional sales and increase profits today. By taking it one step at a time, you can put your business online without traumatizing yourself, your staff or your pocketbook. ##
Builders Network, Inc.