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My Houzz professional placement subscription comes up soon for renewal. I've paid for two years and really don't think I've gotten much if any business for my money. It costs about $3000 per year for my listing as a professional. I'm wondering if you guys have any feedback on paying for the Professional status from Houzz. All my clients use Houzz and I'm not sure if I would lose my listing or pictures if I don't renew. Any feedback is appreciated.
Thank god I live in the town I do and don't have to worry about that. My shop works mostly with high end designers and builders and they do all the leg work for me. I don't know the specifics of your situation but I would recommend you move in that direction
Your work is first rate.
I would guess that people who become interested in your work via Houzz navigate to your website and are completely underwhelmed.
The pictures on your website should be of the stature you would want to see if you were about to make very important decisions about your house. Spend some time on converting leads to phone calls and you will find that Houzz brings you your money's worth.
I've never paid for my Houzz listing, but do occasionally get calls from it. The free listings rotate to the top from time to time while the paid listings stay on top.
I don't know if there is a limit on how much you can post on the free listings, that might be a consideration. I doubt you would lose your listing completely. You might consider a more robust website that links to your free Houzz listing.
My website is horrible. I need to work on it when I have some down time, but I'm booked into next year at this point (2 jobs from the free Houzz listing)
You can use Houzz for free, I do. I dont think it has helped my business at all. My website sucks terribly as well. I really need to fix that. Word of mouth still reigns supreme for my advertisement, after that when you google cabinetmakers in my area I come up second right underneath the largest shop in the area. That helps a lot
I also have free houzz and I haven't spent more than 30 minutes setting it up because I don't ned it (and pinterest is a good one too). I would personally drop down to a free houzz and spend the 3k on professional photography and website facelift.
I think the website is ok but some nice high res photos would really set it off. Mind you I can't talk because I'm in he same boat.
Tell us more about your current market and desired market, then maybe people could suggest ways to spend that 3k budget to bring in the right kind of client.
Your work really is first rate. Well done!
Thanks for the feedback. The majority of our residential work is vacation homes at the beach. All of our work comes from referrals from existing clients, builders, designers and architects. For the last 20 years that has worked well and kept our shop of around 18 guys busy. It sounds like not paying for the top listing is the common practice here. Our website is around 5 years old now and maybe in need of some updating but I didn't think it was that bad. "Cabmaker" did you have any specific feedback I might be able to incorporate in modifying my website. Maybe these things become self fulfilling but given my market location I've never viewed my website as a lead generating marketing tool. I think of it as a tool to help our clients get comfort that we can make high end millwork. They get referred to us and can go to our website and see that we can make all sorts of different things. Thanks again fo the feedback.
I did not think the website was all that bad, heck i think mine is a no winner, but with an all referral and spec business it only serves as a way to contact me and the occasional one who needs some extreme carving.
a suggestion would be to have portfolio phots blow to full size or larger, that pop and wow is valuable to a homeowner
As I said before, I think your work is exceptional. Somebody in your company has a sense of proportion and design that is quite exceptional. You should show this fine work off.
As others have pointed out your photography images are too small. When I click on an image to enlarge it all I get is a slightly larger version of a similarly muddy photograph.
Would that this were my website I would stick with more consistent styling. I find the colors on your home page very soothing but as it segues through the various sections the different color blocks become discordant. I would possibly also not use as many different fonts per layout.
I do like that Ken Burns effect thing you got going on. Though sometimes less is more.
I think cabinetmakers miss an opportunity when all they view their website as is an electronic business card. Customers come to websites for specific reasons. They want to know first whether you can build what they want. After you satisfy them that you have the quality they desire they want to know whether or not you will fit in their budget. They are not as likely to go to the second page of your website if the first one is not compelling.
You don't make money building cabinets. You lose money building cabinets. The only time you ever make any money is when you sell the work. Every minute from that point forward is downhill from there.
Think of this like lean manufacturing. The shops that don't have any work really need to get their costs low to remain viable. The shops that are up to their eyeballs in work need to increase capacity. Websites can do both of these things. The shop that is starving for sales needs to have sales systems that are relevant to their customers. The shop that is overwhelmed needs to use their website as a tool to help qualify and train prospective clients.
One suggestion I would make re: the website is to hire a professional photographer for your nicer jobs. I have a mix of the pictures I took with my "real" camera (decent SLR and lens) and some that I've paid to have taken. The difference is night and day. His photographs look so much better and professional and I think that reflects on the site itself, which in turn reflects on my company. Now I just need to pony up and get him to take more so I can get rid of the lousy ones that are dragging down the site!
Thanks again for the feedback. Maybe I'll skip the Houzz money-I only signed up because the original sales girl was so good. She never failed to have a great response to my reasons for not spending the money. I thought her efforts should be rewarded with my sign up. Two years later I've rewarded her enough and its time to move my money elsewhere. Maybe that will be with better photo's. As you can guess they all come from my cell phone. I've always been too cheap to spend the money for a pro. Maybe I'll rethink that and spend some money to update my photo's and web site. It's been 5 years since I'ce done anything with it.
I have been paying for Houzz for 4 years and find it brings me in several jobs a month. Many are in the 10-30k range, so the 350.00/month is well worth it for me. I have a phone meeting once a month with my rep and she not only comes up with good suggestions, but does some of the ground work for me in getting my Houzz site improved. We have 61 reviews to date and have been awarded Best of Houzz for 4 years running. In a state where there are many fly by nite people, this adds to my credibility and I am working with more designers because of my Houzz presence, 61 great reviews from happy clients and designers that are actually vetted by Houzz gives future clients a level of trust and comfort in choosing me over someone else. My Houzz pro dashboard also shows me which of my photos people are saving and I can modify them to target my sudience better. Even if clients start looking for me on Google, they still will gravitate to my Houzz pages, Harold.
Now that you have an extra $3K per year... :-)
If you want to take some photos yourself, you might consider investing in a digital camera, wide angle lens, and a tripod. Then, find a night-school class on photography. The local community college may be of help, or the local school systems. It could be worth some phone calls to find them.
I will agree that a professional photographer will do a great job. Well, that's his job! He should know everything from lighting, staging, camera angles, etc. And, he should have all of the proper equipment.
But, sometimes scheduling just doe not permit getting a pro when you need him and for the number of hours on site. That's when a decent digital camera and a tripod will out perform a cell phone.
One tip that I have learned is to vary the lighting and take multiple shots. Try with the window treatments open, room lights on, then windows closed, room lights on, then windows open, room lights off, etc. And try different combinations of the room lights as well. Then, when you get them uploaded to your computer see which is the best and use that. The resolution (number of pixels) will probably be much better than a cellphone. And, the tripod will help keep things steady and not blurry. You can take a lot of photos in just a few minutes each and every time. I do like to take a quick peek on the camera to see what I just shot. It will quickly tell me if I have the camera aimed correctly or not. If not, adjust the tripod and shoot some more. I rarely use the built-in flash. It often gives me a bright reflection right in the middle of the shot. This is especially true if there are reflective surfaces perpendicular to the direction of the camera. I don't have a secondary light source, so I usually leave the flash off.
One last trick I use with my camera. It has a delay setting. I set it for 10 seconds then press the shutter button. Then, I just step back and wait to hear it take the photo. The reason is that I will not be accidentally jiggling the camera by pressing the shutter button. This will prevent a lot of blurry photos.
Add these new photos to your website. And, use some of the ideas others have posted about your website. I agree that the pages need to be consistent in look and feel. Imagine walking through a home you are visiting for the first time and every room is from a different style and era. It would be a bit confusing, wouldn't it?
Best of luck!