What makes a good contractor website?

12 secrets to building an online presence that generates more business.

If you’re a roofer, home builder, or other home service contractor and looking to grow your business, consider one thing:

 

What does my website do for me?

For a lot of construction and contracting businesses, the answer is: not much.

We all know that referrals aren’t endless, and in slower times, exposure will get you calls. These days, exposure comes online.

At this point I’ll skip the part where I drone on about how important websites are, how you should “be online”, how you should be mobile–friendly, etc. That’s old news. You know that.
Here’s my main point:

Contractors who successfully use their websites to grow their businesses share one key understanding:

Having a crummy website is like having a sales guy who never follows up and naps through the afternoon.

Michael scott sleeping gif

So if you’re hoping to make this year better than last, and escape from the lowest-bid hamster wheel, read on and make a plan to take some kind of action this week.

The Foundation

Hopefully, you have a website for your contracting business, and hopefully that website shows your prospective customers that you are professional, reliable, trustworthy, and do top–quality work.

But that’s the baseline for a solid contractor website. There’s a lot more that your site can do to both make your life easier AND bring you more business.

What I’m hoping to highlight here is the fact that your site can do real, actual sales work for you.

Your website can go out into the world and find customers; it can build relationships with the window shoppers; it can set you so far apart from your competition that customers are happy to drop a little more cash to work with you than your brandless, faceless competition.

How does a website do all this?

It’s not an employee sitting there holding a sign, smoking a cigarette and counting the minutes until 5 o’clock.

It’s a dynamic, effective sales tool.

The catch is: it doesn’t come that way out of the box. You are responsible for making it into a well–oiled machine that actively grows your business. 

Sure, it is a bigger investment to create a website that acts as more than a glorified poster, but if your website helps close even one big job, it‘s paid for (sometimes many times over).

And even if you don’t have the budget to hire a professional, there is plenty within this list that is doable on your own using a little elbow grease and a DIY tool like Squarespace.

So whatever you do, DON’T just cross your fingers and ignore how your business acts online. 

What exactly makes a good website for a contractor?

In my experience, effective sites share a few key features – features that help the people who are “just looking”, and close more business with customers who are ready to take action:

1. Live Chat

Everyone wants to feel listened to.

Live chat is hands–down the easiest way to make your customers feel special and let them know there are real human people behind your website.

There’s a HUGE difference between replying in 1-2 hours and 2-3 days. Make it easy on yourself to reply quickly by plugging in a chat widget – I recommend using the Facebook chat widget, because it’s free and most of us already have it on our phones.

2. Leads sent to your smartphone

It’s all about fast response time.

Use a service like Nexmo to have your contact form submissions go straight to your phone via text, making it easy for you to reply faster than your competitors. 

Imagine getting this review: “They were the best builders– so easy to work with, and I heard back from them immediately. I was going to shop around for quotes but was so impressed with how easy and fast their communication was that I decided not to.”

Man holding smartphone

3. Easy call to action right at the top

This one’s simple: DON’T HIDE YOUR PHONE NUMBER. Make it clickable and make it obvious.

Nothing’s more frustrating to a potential customer than getting lost on your site looking for the phone number.

4. Clearly defined services

Make each service you provide into its own page. If you do spec homes AND custom homes AND remodeling, make each one a separate page.

This makes it easier for people to find you on Google, and makes it dead simple to see what’s what on your website.

5. Trust symbols

Highlight your awards, associations, local recognition, etc. This goes a long way in letting people know that you are trustworthy, experienced and respected.

Trust symbols - construction company

6. FAQ

Don’t spend all day answering the same questions over and over, and don’t let your employees do it either!

Create a short and sweet list of common questions, slap it on your site under the label FAQ, and voilà, you just saved yourself 2 hours a week.

7. A personality

Give your company a personality online – a unique look that matches who you are and what your company is about. If your site looks like every other contractor website, chances are it’ll get forgotten.

If you have t-shirts, a logo and trucks driving around town, your website has to match. Otherwise people will get confused. And think you’re not the same business they saw working down the road. And hire their “pretty handy” cousin to do their roof job instead.

8. Great visuals

You do great work, right? So show it off!

Hire a real photographer to come to a job site or two on a nice day and snap a few before and afters, and some photos of your team at work. Nothing corny or staged: real people hammering and drilling and exiting the port–a–jon.

These alone go miles in making your website stand out from the crowded field of websites using stock imagery.

9. A professional design

You know within a millisecond of landing on a website whether it “looks good” or not.

When your prospects are clicking open ten tabs of local contractors to build their addition, who do you think they’ll exit out of first: the one with a nice, modern website that’s easy to understand and navigate, or the one with the lopsided stock photo from 1998 and a handful of ClipArt icons?

10. Fast load time

We’re all getting less patient online, and the people on your website are no exception. 40% of people will abandon a web page that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Test your page speed on Pingdom or GTmetrix

11. Well-designed lead flow

Assume that anyone on your site is a person walking into your store or office, looking around. You wouldn’t ignore them in person – you’d try to answer their questions, show off what you do, then get some contact info so you could follow up.

You want your website to do the exact same thing. You want it to be the friendliest, most informative, and most effective salesperson in your business.

One simple example of how you might capture a lead on your website: let’s say you’re a builder and have a few standard floor plans you offer. One page on your site is dedicated to showing off these homes, complete with typical pricing, and users can download the floor plans in exchange for their email. Then you follow up! Simple.

And, if you want to get serious, you can create a whole automated system for following up with people.

12. Reviews

Copy your best reviews and paste them onto your site, or use a service to stream the latest 5–star reviews directly from Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. 

We all trust reviews more than we trust what companies say about themselves. Let your reviews do (some of) the talking!

Of course, there are plenty of other things we could talk about in terms of creating a website that works for you 24/7. But if you are looking for the biggest, most effective levers for improving your website as a home builder, roofer, or any other contractor, these will be more than enough to get you going. 

Wheelhouse Digital is built to help home service businesses use technology to grow revenue and make life easier. Shoot me a message if you’d like to learn more.

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