Build a Website that Builds Business & Saves Money
Information Systems Manager,
PolyJohn Enterprises Corporation
Who’s afraid of the World Wide Web? Actually, many people older than 30 who don’t use a computer in their daily job may be reluctant to use the Internet, let alone advertise their business on a website. If you’re one of these people, you’ll probably change your mind once you learn how easy it is, and how much you can save by moving some of your advertising dollars to the web.
Actually, you don’t need computer experience and it can cost very little money to put up a basic website. Sometimes called “brochure sites,” the basic website provides information about your company, your services, your equipment, and your contact information.
These sites can be a thrifty way to make a big impact. In some cases, they can save money by taking the place of a printed color brochure and they can add an extra layer to yellow pages ads, billboards, or any “freebie” your salesperson leaves behind. If a potential customer can go from your yellow pages ad to your web site, they can learn a whole lot more about your business. The more a customer knows about you, the more you stand out from the competition in their minds.
On a two or three page website you can quickly show customers that you are a reputable business with an array of services and equipment and people to do the job right. You can provide a brief history of your company and you can show pictures of your employees and equipment.
A basic site may have a home page that provides contact information, background information and perhaps a photo of you and your employees. The second page could focus on construction services showing pictures of equipment and listing service options, and the third could be for special events and parties. If your business provides additional services, such as dewatering, septic, or grease trap pumping, consider adding a page for each service.
Once you have a website, you can put the Internet address on everything you use to promote your business, including the side of your trucks, on restroom stickers, on business cards, on hats, t-shirts, pens, magnets, or anything else you use for marketing that doesn’t tell the complete story alone.
Building a Website
There are two ways to build a website. If you have basic computer skills and feel comfortable maneuvering on the web, you can go to a build-it-yourself site like those you can find at yahoo.com or networksolutions.com. At Yahoo, look on the landing page for Y! Small Business, follow the links to “Build a website” and simply follow the instructions. You can download their custom SiteBuildertm software to get the job done. At Network Solutions, for a price of just $1.50 a month per page, you can create your site by simply pointing and clicking on one of the hundreds of site templates they have available.
There are several ways to get pictures for your website. You can use a regular camera and have your pictures developed onto a picture CD when you have them developed. You can use a digital camera and upload the pictures onto your computer. Or, you can download pictures directly from the web onto your computer and then upload them to your site. When you do this though make sure that they are not copyrighted or you get permission to use them. Having product images like these that are well lit and shot by a professional will give your site a more professional image.
For any website you launch, you will also need to reserve a domain name. This should be something easy for your clients to remember. Start with the name of your business with a “.com” extension. For example, if your company name is Sam’s Superior Sanitation, go with samssuperiorsanitation.com. When you go to register, you’ll find out right away if your name is taken. If it is already reserved by someone else, try extensions other than “.com” such as .net, .biz, . bz, .us, or one of the other two dozen or so options. Site registration also has a fee, usually less than $50 a year.
Large companies normally build custom websites using professional website designers. There are many good examples in the portable sanitation industry. To see what your largest competitor is doing, try typing their company name into a web browser to see what comes up. If you don’t find their website, try other big names in the industry. You’ll find sites for Andy Gump, Honey Bucket, United Site Services, Service Sanitation, Allied/BFI, and many others.
To create a custom site, you’ll need a web designer. Perhaps the best way to find one in your area is to ask friends in the Chamber of Commerce who have websites if they would recommend the person who built theirs. Finding a web designer who is respected by associates in your town is much better than trying to find one in the Yellow Pages.
You can also look for web designers online. With website work all being done in cyberspace anyway, you can just as easily work with a designer in Nome, AL or Key West, FL as you can with someone in your neighborhood. Websites like Elance (www.elance.com) or Guru (www.guru.com) let you get bids from hundreds of designers. However, like finding them in the Yellow Pages, you won’t know the people you are working with, so you are taking a bigger risk. If you do work with a stranger, get references (and check them), get a signed contract, and never pay more than an initial deposit upfront. Make sure the contract specifies completion dates with assigned payment schedules for work completed, a detailed description of the work to be done, and specific terms about who owns the site design.
You’ll also want to have control of your website once it is done. Small changes will be needed periodically as your products, services, or personnel changes. If your website designer doesn’t show you or someone on your staff how to make minor changes, then you will be at his or her mercy whenever a change is needed.
While you can’t expect the phone to start ringing off the hook just because you have launched your website, being on the Internet is becoming an increasingly important part of any marketing program no matter how large or small your business is.
It’s a matter of convenience, sales potential, and personal pride to have a nice looking website. And, the first time a new customer calls saying they learned about your business on the Web, you’ll know it was worth it.
We asked Conrad Harrell, President
Dons Johns Sanitation Services, Chantilly, VA:
What were you thinking about when you were preparing to build your company’s website?
“We wanted to accomplish the following objectives,” stated Conrad.
—Be a great resource for customer service representatives for answering all of our customer questions—from capacity and uses to dimensions of units.
—Primarily as a resource for special event customers—we believe event customers are interested in working with larger “corporate” customers and wanted our website to provide an image of a larger professional organization.
—Retrain customers into thinking that our units are not just porta-potties for events—but a whole line of portable restroom products that can handle any event and/or crowd’s taste—from black tie affairs to the construction of skyscrapers.
—Provide a way for customers to see just how nice our restroom TRAILERS are—as well as not have to drive to our location to rent one.
—Be professional—show we are a legitimate business with products and services, management teams, customer testimonials…etc.
—Recruiting—hiring employees that can look at our website and get a feel
for what we do.
www.polyjohn.com – Spring/Summer 2004 – JohnTalk • 7
8 • JohnTalk – Spring/Summer 2004 – www.polyjohn.com