Should your business have its own website? Pros share experiences and discuss the worth of a web presence. June 12, 2005

I am contemplating setting up a website for my small custom shop. I have an idea that there would be a lot of tire kickers out there wasting time on the phone – and that’s what I want to avoid. What has been everyone’s experience with setting up a site? Any suggestions or starting points would be great.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor D:
Websites are a very economical way to present a business. They are easy to set up, very inexpensive to host, and can easily be changed as circumstances require.

In short, a website is probably the least expensive way to expose any business to the greatest number of potential new customers. The downside is that people can waste your time at any time and from any place in the world. Oddly enough your tire-kickers may actually increase (initially anyway) and you will now sort through emails instead of phone messages. You will then most likely have to call these people anyway to confirm all the information contained in your emails.
Overall there is no reason not to have a website, and there are a great number of reasons to have one.

From contributor M:
A website is a great idea, and it will not cost you lots of money. The thing is, if you really want to generate traffic to your website, you will have to push it up on the search engines (this will cost you some money).

From contributor J:

Unless your products are suitable to be sold nationwide, mail order in effect, then search engines aren't going to do very much for you. You will still need to advertise locally in order to get local people to be aware of your website. I think a website is a useful back up to local advertising, because you can put in more detail and pictures.

From contributor T:
We have a small two person shop doing custom furniture and cabinets. The biggest advantage of our website is that when we get a call or a prospective customer, we can send them to our website. Some people don't want to drive out to the boondocks just to see what we can do. A lot of our customers see our work and then are willing to make the drive. As has been stated, a website is the best and most cost efficient way to show your work.

From contributor G:
A website can be your electronic catalog or your resume with pictures of your work. I do not list my phone number on my site for the simple reason that I could never get any work done or I would be answering non solicited sales calls all day. I ask potential customers to email me for the phone number.

I think you will eliminate a lot of tire kickers if you do list prices with the pictures. I normally do not post photos and prices of commissions because I feel that the people who have commissioned the piece may not appreciate it. However, I would do it if they requested.

From the staff at WOODWEB:
To the original questioner: WOODWEB has a resource that you might not be aware of - the "Woodworker's Directory", where you can advertise your services by creating a free web page listing for your company. Also, the Woodworker's Directory offers you the opportunity to promote your company even further with advertising options.

By listing at the Woodworker's Directory, your company becomes part of WOODWEB's Internet index of woodworking companies. Architects, homeowners, and commercial customers use the Woodworker's Directory to find woodworking professionals, and the Request for Quote feature will automatically send you messages from visitors who are looking for prices on projects.

To view the Woodworker's Directory and learn more about creating and promoting your company, just review the links found in the right column at the Woodworker's Directory, located at the link below.

Woodworker's Directory

From contributor S:
In adding to the responses you already have gotten, we feel the website is an really important part of our business. Whenever people ask what do you do - I send them there. A website, when done correctly, can be a great reflection of the type of work that you do and thus can actually save you time by weeding out those clients who are looking for things you do not do.

We deal almost entirely with high end work and we've found that our clients like being able to see what we do in the freedom of their own home. To date, we've yet to find a client who did not want their work to appear on our site. In fact, many like the idea and they email friends to see it. Now that is a great referral tool.

Someone said being in search engines is not important if you are not national. I'm not sure that I agree with that. Over the past two years we've had lots of clients that found us via a search engine such as Google.

As to the tire-kickers - perhaps it’s because I was initially in marketing that I do everything I can to encourage tire-kicking. While we might not fit for what one person wants, the fact that they did speak with us means that they might remember us when a friend wants something that fits what we do.

From contributor A:
I have been doing my websites myself for a few years now. It takes a little time to learn as with anything, but it is well worth the effort. All of my paper advertising has my web address on it. People see me in the yellow pages or the news paper and go to the website, and they see the different types of work I do. Then they can contact me if my type of work and their project are a match.