I once took on a copywriting job for a construction company. They had been operating successfully for 35 years without so much as a website. Now, one of their largest contracts was requiring them to create a website, and they weren’t happy about it. They didn’t see the reason for a website in their situation, and they made sure I knew it!
As someone in the construction industry, you probably spend a lot of your time working with your hands. It can be hard to see the point of your website when so many of your clients come via word-of-mouth. But a website plays a valuable part in your marketing efforts, whether you know it or not. If you do nothing else for marketing this year, get a quality website established so you can direct potential clients there.
So what do you need to get a website for your construction business up and running? Here is our guide:
The options for website creation are practically infinite, and if you’re not careful, every company is going to try to convince you why their services are the ONLY WAY TO DO IT. The truth is, you have a few options when thinking about creating your site. Talk to a web / graphic designer you trust, outline your budget, and explain what it is you want. You should be able to find a solution that fits your needs.
Here are some of your options when it comes to websites:
A “Free” Site
Free sites are sites built in template engines or social media pages. They are free because they usually serve as a platform for the company who owns them to make revenue through adverts placed on your site. They are usually so easy to use you could create the page yourself in a couple of hours. Although a free site, or a social media page, might seem like a great way to get started, you have no control over the ads placed on the site, the way your site looks and the amount of people who see your site (for example, only around 10% of people who “like” your Facebook page will see your updates). For this reason, I don’t recommend a free site.
A Template Site
For this type of site, you will pick a “platform” - the engine on which your site is built - and then add a template over top. This template will dictate what your site looks like, as well as the way some of the features are displayed. Wordpress is a great example of a platform,. There are thousands of free templates you can use, and you can also hire a Wordpress designer to create you one that is unique to your company.
A Custom-Designed Site
This is a website that is coded from scratch, where every element is custom-made for your company. Custom-designed sites are the most expensive option for any website design, because every element is created from scratch, rather than using pre-designed templates that have already been tested. Custom-designed sites are practically essential for big brands and complex ecommerce stores, but for most businesses they are total overkill. Do not let a flashy salesperson convince you a custom-designed site is what you need, unless you are a large building firm with complex website needs.
What Does Your Website Actually Need?
Now that you’ve chosen a reliable design company or freelancer who is going to give you exactly what you need, the next step is figuring out the different elements that need to go into creating your website. Here are five must-have features of your building & construction company website.
1. Pictures of People Constructing Things
This is a problem I see on many construction websites. I see some lovely pictures of finished buildings, which is all well and good, but what I want to see are some in-process pictures - I want to see the team that takes my building from a flat slab to a finished house, warehouse or shopping centre.
2. An About Page
After the homepage, the About Us page is usually the second-visited on any website. Before a client calls about a quote, they have a lot of questions in their mind and will want to know a bit more about your company. So give them some details - your About Us page should answer the following questions:
- How long have you been in business?
- How big is your crew?
- What qualifications do you and your crew hold?
- What experience do you have?
- What are some of your largest / most interesting projects?
- What types of projects do you take on?
- What geographical areas do you / could you work in?
- What awards have your won?
- What other details set you apart? (eg. eco-friendly materials)
3. Details of Your Services
When a potential client lands on your page, how will they know exactly what you do? You need to include a page explaining the services you offer and a bit about what’s involved. For example, is you’re a residential company, do you do new builds, rennovations, decks, bathroom and kitchen remodels? If you manufacture or install a particular product, what makes that product stand out?
4. A Project / Portfolio Page
On this page, you will showcase some of your best construction projects. These projects are what is going to sell your company to potential clients. The client wants to see lots of beautiful, professionally-shot images and a bit of descriptive explanation about each one.
I like to create these pages in a blog format, which enables a construction company to adapt a simple blog template on a platform like Wordpress into a suitable site.
5. Contact Details
Make sure you include details of how a potential client can contact you, either by phone or email.
How to Make Your Website Even More Awesome
Now that you’ve got your basic website looking very cool, it’s time to add some extra features. While none of the below features are necessary, they will definitely ensure that your company’s website gets some extra attention from potential clients.
Include Useful Content
“Content” is simply articles, lists, worksheets, images or other resources that people can access on your website. If you create useful content, then potential clients are more likely to see you as someone they trust, which is great for business. Your content will get shared around, getting your site in front of more eyes.
Building and construction companies could create a content section of your website designed to help clients through the building process. For example, on residential builds, you might like to include some useful documentation on the building process. Some ideas are:
- What to expect from the building process.
- Dealing with council - the ins and outs of building consent.
- The life of a house.
- Commercial building design tips.
- 10 ideas to save money on your new home.
Including downloadable resources is another clever way companies use websites as lead generation tools. You can set up your website in such a way that a potential client will need to hand over contact information in order to download your ebook, spreadsheet or guide.
For example, you could create a “New Home Budget Sheet”, itemizing every part of a new build, with the estimated percentage of the total cost next to it. Then, your client can go through this sheet and add in the quotes from their subcontractors and see if everything is going to come in under budget.
If someone downloads your “New Home Budget Sheet”, chances are pretty high they are probably thinking about building sometime soon. 3 days after they’ve downloaded your guide, you give them a call to see how useful they’ve found it and if you can help them with their project or any questions they might have. They’d find this pretty awesome, and you’ve already got them on the phone - so if nothing else, they should be keen for you to send a quote.
A great way to use your website to gain more clients is to team up with other businesses to cross-promote your services and packages. Perhaps there’s a plumber you regularly work with who you could refer your clients to? Or maybe you could team up with a local real estate agent to do renovations on newly-purchased homes.
Create a page on your website where you can highlight some of your best referrers - for example, profiling a real estate, a plumber, an electrician, and earthmover, and an insurance broker. Now when a client contacts you, they are getting a whole team.
Show your network your website page, and get them to do the same thing on their sites. Now you can all work together to bring in more clients.
Top Mistakes Building & Construction Companies Make on Their Website
Afraid of doing something wrong with your site? Don’t worry, here are the top mistakes building & construction firms make with their websites - if you avoid these, you’re gonna be fine.
1. Not Retaining Editing Abilities
Many web companies deliberately target the construction industry, because they know their clients aren’t going to be very tech savvy. This means they can do things like inflate the cost of a website (or offer the company a custom-built package for thousands of dollars, when all they need is a basic 5-page template site), or offer to perform updates for you whenever you need them. This sounds like a good idea in theory, but do you really want to have to call the web company every time you need to change a name or edit a photograph? What if the web company goes out of business and you have no idea how to access your own site?
Make sure the company allows you to edit the text on your site, and that they show you or your admin manager how to go into the site and edit text and images. This means that when you change address or you want to add another job to your portfolio, you can do this yourself - no waiting for the web company to do it for you for a fee.
2. Forgetting Your Contact Details
When I click on your contact page, I want to see more ways to contact you than just a form to fill in. Many people resent having to fill in a form and worry that it simply won’t go through. Ideally, you want to include your contact details on every page of the site - but many construction companies forget to put them on at all! Your website isn’t any use if a person loves the look of your projects but has no idea how to contact you.
You need at least a phone number so people can call you - ideally, an email address, as well.
3. Not Understanding Your Target Audience
A website is a great platform for attracting your target clients, but who are they? Think about your clients - who do you usually deal with? For example, high-end residential construction companies usually find themselves dealing with women, aged 35-50, who have a bit of money behind them and a very specific idea of what they want.
Tailor the look and message of your site to this audience, and you’ll be the most popular construction company in the neighbourhood.
Are you a construction or building firm without a website? Is your website substandard? Now is the time to get serious about your web presence. More and more of your clients are turning to the internet for information and advice on their next construction project - if you’re the source of that advice, you’re going to get the job.
What do you have on your construction company’s website? Do you have any more tips to add? For more information, check out what WorkflowMax can do for building and construction firms.
Images for construction of the Empire State Building courtesy of Bettman Collection.