Many paving contractors have websites, others remain have-nots. All the have-nots, and a vast majority of those who have a site often wonder why? What precise good does a website do for a contractor? How much business comes in via the site? What’s the point?
The point of a paving contractor website is everybody is out there. Your competitors are out there and so are your customers. Your absence in the Internet arena says a number of things to your competitors and customers. To some, it says, “I don’t care to compete in this popular new medium. Flyers were good enough for my dad, and they’re good enough for me.” To others, your absence might indicate that you don’t have anything to brag about. Other possibilities include, “Maybe they can’t afford a site.” or “Maybe they just don’t get the technology.”
Going siteless doesn’t say anything good about you.
At the same time, a pancake site doesn’t help either. A pancake site is, of course, a flat site, with a tiny amount of content that never changes … just sits there, year in, year out. A pancake site (especially if it still says, “Y2K Ready!”) tells visitors that you don’t much care how you present yourself – and therefore may well not care how you present your services. Your flat site tells the world, “I am not good on following through” – not the message a paving contractor wants to convey.
Particularly egregious for a paving contractor is the site that looks so old, visitors wonder if you’re still in business. We all know how important it is for paving contractors to project stability and longevity to combat the “hit-and-run” crowd.
If your site contains programming glitches, typos, dead links or aged, blurry photos, it’s saying, “When I set out to do a thing, I do it poorly.” The good news is, you too, can have a bright, peppy website that looks current and well-done, without spending the old arm and leg.
We’ve already established that not having a website is harmful, even detrimental to your business. So, how do you originate one, or pep up your old one? Sites like Yahoo!™ (http://www.yahoo.com) and GoDaddy™ (http://www.godaddy.com) have shockingly low prices, with things like free setup and so on. They walk you right through the entire process. Simply go to your favorite search engine, and search for “web hosting.” Find the one that differentiates itself for your needs.
That’s the easy part compared to your content. Don’t let yourself get twisted into a pretzel with content. The look of the site should echo your logo and existing signage. That is, when someone visits your site, it’s obvious to them that they have reached the site that matches the trucks and building sign of the company they're seeking. Photos are essential and fairly simple to upload onto your computer. A photo of your building, of your crew can look great along with a few beauty shots of some of your finest work.
What to say? Again, we are not looking for poetry and Shakespeare here. Just tell them why they should choose you. Boast about what makes you different from the others. Be substantive here. It is no longer possible to express that your “customer service makes the difference.” Everybody says that, or “Others may say it, but we really mean it…” “Where the customer is king…” or “imperial master of the Milky Way…” See what I mean? It’s over. It’s like boasting that you have air conditioned offices, free parking or clean restrooms.
Again, in our business, it’s imperative to let potential customers that you have been in the area for a number of years, which reflects stability and a bit of company history is a nice touch. And don’t forget to tell people exactly what you do, that is, your products and services. You have probably had the experience of finding yourself at some website, and you can’t even figure out what they do!
Here’s a good checklist to use for setting up a basic paving contractor’s site:
• Company name, address, phone and e-mail address.
• Photos of building, trucks, equipment, crew, work examples.
• Statement of what makes us different from others (besides customer service!).
• List of services you offer.
• Your company’s story, how it started, its history, its goals.
The final basic element is a spot, a box or a “latest news” at the top of the home page that changes often. This is where you keep things fresh and demonstrate that yours is a company of action and on the ball. Once a week is best, but for sure once a month, go out and add a photo of your latest job, or when you add a service, hire someone new, or acquire a new piece of equipment. Write a simple paragraph about it. Nobody wants to read more than a paragraph about somebody else’s paving job. Also remember, that photo is worth a thousand words.
“My Asphalt Co. is proud to announce we have added snow removal to our services. We offer flexible contracts at affordable rates. Our new ScrapeApe 6000 machine (photo) cuts away eight feet of snow at 2 mph. You really need to see it in action. It’s practically a monster. Give us a call to discuss the ways we might solve your parking lot snow woes this winter….”
“The next time you shop at the Town Mall, please notice the parking lot. My Asphalt Co. is now in charge of maintaining the lot. We recently completed this upgrade, using this or that. (photo) Our striping machine made this many passes to draw all those bright white lines. So if you see a pothole forming, or notice any fading or crumbling, let us know!”
You can do this! And, in these times, you absolutely should be doing this. These days, having a website is as cheap as producing a flyer and it lasts longer.
Finally, be absolutely certain your website address is on your stationery, business card, invoices and particularly on your trucks and vehicles. When other drivers see your site address on your truck, they have the means to find out all about you. It’s like handing a flyer to every car you see in traffic. Above all, make sure your site address is in your yellow pages print book ad! More and more, as those people who still use the print version of the yellow pages book flip through and see an appealing ad, they will try to look it up on the web. Of course, more people every day are using the print book less and less, because they know it was printed weeks or months back. They count on finding fresh, up-to-date information online.
See you there!