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?

  Here’s the point of a paving contractor website.

  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.”

  Doom and gloom! 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 going siteless is no longer harmless. So, how do you originate one, or pep up your old one?

  The World Wide Web has been around; it’s past the terrible twos and that awkward pre-adolescent age. Now, there are so many tools, so many hosts, so many affordable ways to hook up – those early, difficult, confusing potty training days of the 1990s are a distant memory.
  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 just 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 a visitor lands, it’s obvious to him that he has reached the site that matches the trucks and building sign of the company he’s seeking. Photos are nice – also simple in this digital age. 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 – that all-important stability factor – so a bit of company history is a nice touch. And don’t forget to tell people exactly what you do – 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” click right 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 – keep it fresh. Once a week is best, but for sure once a month, go out and add a photo of your latest job. Write a simple paragraph about it. Nobody wants to read more than a paragraph or so about somebody else’s paving job. But, as always, that photo is worth a thousand words.

  When you add a service, when you hire someone new, when you acquire a new piece of equipment, when you pick up a new contract…

  “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 lasts longer – and doesn’t go out of date.

  Final tip: Be absolutely certain your website address is on your stationery, business card, invoices and particularly on your trucks and vehicles. When other drivers glimpse 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, because they know it was printed weeks or months back. They count on finding fresh, up-to-date information online. See you there!