Dealers Note Growing Importance of Web Sites

Kitchen & Bath Design News recently posed the question to dealers and designers in the kitchen and bath industry: “What role does your company Web site play in your overall business?” Following are some of the responses KBDN received:

“We have had a Web site for the past six years and I use it primarily as a go-to point for our advertising purposes. It is mentioned in all of our advertising and it contains our company history, a photo gallery with all of our cabinet manufacturers, a list of the major brand names that we carry and the seminars we run. So, anybody who needs information about our company can find it easily on the Web site. Before I joined the kitchen industry, I was an engineer at Apple computers in the networking and server group, so I’ve been well aware of the Internet for much longer than most people. Interestingly, though, our Santa Barbara population doesn’t seem to use it hugely for finding us. Most of our clientele is over 45 years of age, and we find that it is usually the younger people who show up saying that they found us through the Web site. Older people, by contrast, may not have even considered the Internet as a place to do research – they are more likely to call the Better Business Bureau. The key is if they visit our Web site and then come to our showroom, they have somewhat pre-qualified themselves into believing that what they have read on the Web site is the type of company that they want to work with. To that end, we actually have an advanced planning questionnaire on our site and we’ve had people actually come in with it already printed out! That makes our job a lot easier!”

Megan Landry, owner
Jack’s Kitchens
Santa Barbara, CA

“Our Web site will, in fact, be playing a much larger role in the near future as we are developing a new one right now. We just realized after the last 18 months how important it is to have a much more comprehensive Web site than we’ve ever had before. The goal of our new Web site is for it to become an interactive Web site that will require participation by the viewer which, we hope, will pull them in that much more. Our main objective is that they will view more vignettes and not be so quick to leave the site, and they will be able to see more. By having the site be more interactive, it will generate some excitement for the viewer through that interaction. We feel that we need to be showing complete packages of the house, and the only way to really do that comprehensively, and to entice them to spend more time to see more things, is to make it more interactive. Another thing is that we want to highlight a lot more of the design capabilities our dealership has, so we are going to something called a ‘wave.’ That will be part of a conceptual drawing of a kitchen. This will show everything from concept to the reality of the end product. I really think that these types of elements will entice our target clientele because we want them to see the many possibilities that are available. We want to make the presentation more exciting because the Web site is such an important marketing tool for us and it is certainly not something that we feel we will lose money on by investing in it. Frankly, we don’t think that the Yellow Pages is worth the money or the paper it is printed on, especially since most people do their homework and shopping on the Internet. Of course, we need to have very good positioning on the search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, so that people can get to us easily.”

Jeff Kerr, general manager
Wilmington Kitchens
Design Studio
Wilmington, NC

“Our Web site is a very important tool for us, but I don’t know how up to date we are with it. However, we work very hard at keep it updated with pertinent information and many project pictures. Although it is very important to our business, I think it is still very important to qualify clients on a face-to-face basis.”

Berrye Fishman, CKD
Kitchen TechniQ
North Bethesda, MD

“I think that having a Web site gives credibility to our company because people see it and then check us out. I think it definitely helps qualify our clientele, although I do think that it could have a much bigger role than it currently does for us. The way that the description is written on our Web site lets people know that we are oriented to attention to detail and focused on helping people. I also hope that our pictures reflect a quality and a little higher-end product, so that is key as well. Therefore, we definitely have plans to update our site in the near future so [that it continues to be a strong marketing tool] for our firm.

Kristie McPhie, CKD, co-owner
McPhie Cabinetry
Bozeman, MT

“I would say that our Web site is an excellent marketing tool for us because we use it to trace our inquiries and business. A lot of times, people find us from the Web site and that is where they get information about our firm. In my opinion, I think some of the key elements are samples of the work we’ve done and some of the products that we have available. It should also contain directions to the showroom. Those are the things that people tend to respond to the most. I really believe that kitchen and bath design firms should keep their Web sites updated because kitchens and baths are constantly changing. With all of the homes that we have been servicing, we are finding that there are new designs all the time and design professionals need to keep up with those things.”

Sandra R. Soine, designer
Kitchen Gallery
Spring Grove, IL