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Website Newbie, Want to be

Discussion in 'Digital Marketing' started by Natural Impressions, May 18, 2009.

  1. Natural Impressions

    Natural Impressions LawnSite Member
    Posts: 171

    I have been putting off getting a web site for a few years now.

    What are the pros and cons about it?
    What is the averagecost of a website and how much increase in clients has anyone had??

    I'm just curious because I don't the $1000's of dollars like I think it could cost for 2 more clients.
    I guess I just need someone to sell me on the idea. Thanks
  2. Inspira

    Inspira LawnSite Member
    Posts: 39

    I'll get the con out of the way first - if you want it done right and have it look professional, it's expensive. You'll get people telling you that you can do it yourself - use Yahoo's sitebuilder or Optimum Online's homespace thing, and it will be fine - and that may very well be the case. But I've had many clients come to me after trying that, unhappy with their results - and at that point, they've invested their time, which we all know can be very expensive in itself.

    I just had this exact conversation with a client in the container business a few months ago. He spent around $200 per month on an ad in the NJ yellow pages. That ad was 1/8 page, black and white. Pretty much just his logo and a phone number. Seen by potentially thousands, though.

    A website is a full-color, enriched experience seen potentially by MILLIONS. Full description of your services, image slideshow, contact form, etc. And once that initial setup is done, the ongoing maintenance is negligible. I can set up my clients so they're able to update their sites themselves without screwing up the design - or if they do need me, it's not expensive to have me update now and then.

    But let's take it one step further. I'm in my 30's. I just bought a house a few years ago. I don't use the yellow pages. Or look in the classifieds. I also Tivo straight through all the commercials on TV. Get what I'm saying? If I need a guy to do something, whether it's an exterminator, a landscaper, roofer, you name it - I look on the internet. This mentality is here to stay, as younger generations will rely on the web even more.

    Will you see a huge increase in clients? Who knows - hard to tell. I'm in North Jersey - I would be more than happy to talk to you more about it, including price, which I'd rather discuss privately. PM me if you like.

    Best of luck whatever you decide to do.
    Last edited: May 19, 2009
  3. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,944

    Get it first and foremost to represent you and our industry on the internet. Put the advertising concept on the backburner.

    You can get a nice site even if it's a template, for a few hundred. That cost can be spread over the next 20 years into insignificance.

    Then you are maybe looking at $100 a year to cover the name registration and hosting.

    It's not really why should a company get a website. It's more like there is no reason not to get one, even if the site is basic.

    It can be inexpensive or expensive - whatever you choose. If you are on a budget, and a website professional can't provide you with an option under $500, that web person has crippled solution skills. At minimum, they should be able to provide a referral if they simply don't want to work for under a thousand. A person should be able to get an entry level website between several hundred and several thousand.
    Last edited: May 19, 2009
  4. Inspira

    Inspira LawnSite Member
    Posts: 39

    Now THERE's a price range! Sounds like the quotes I'm getting for my retaining wall...
  5. Turboguy

    Turboguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,966

    That almost sounds like it makes more sense to be a web designer than to build walls. Price is about the same, you don't have to lift anything heavy and you don't have to buy the materials for each job. I think all Lawnsite members should become web site designers and we can change the name here to lawnwebsite.com
  6. WebMan

    WebMan LawnSite Member
    from D/FW TX
    Posts: 11

    There are NO cons. :clapping:

    Today EVERY business is expected to have a web site. A good web site for a landscaping type company shouldn't run more than $300 tops custom-made and you can also get a host with a do it yourself site builder, some of the folks here use ours. There's a lot of different ones available through different hosts if you have time and can "pick up" some new software pretty quick.
    Once the cost of the site is out of the way (either the built one or the Do It Yourself) the cost isn't over $130 a year for a top-end host and you have many pages of full color advertising you can change at will. There is NO better investment on the planet than web sites.
    Look at all you get compared to the same cost as a small yellow page ad...and with the yellow pages the average is 50% of customers look there, of thew ones that do they will call 3-4 people average; so you get into the "who is the cheapest" game from the start. With a web site you can present yourself as being worth whatever you charge because you have ROOM...

    It's hard to believe (nothing personal) that anyone would ask such a question in 2009 :confused:

    One thing is do not use the combo registrar-hosts like GoDaddy & Dotster because that often ties your dot-com name to your host. You want to start with a host month-to-month so you can check features, support, etc. and a lot of their "plans" lock you in for a year in the "fine print".
  7. mikey.hill

    mikey.hill LawnSite Member
    Posts: 145

    Having a website is the single best form of advertising available to your business. I develop web applications for a living. Despite what others have said a good website can run anywhere between 1000 - 3000 depending on the features and functionality you're wanting and some sites I've worked on have budgets of upwards of 500,000+. I've been in this business for almost 7 years and will not work for anything less than 50/hr. which seems high, but you also have to figure in the value of what you're receiving. BTW I'm not soliciting, I am building accounting, customer and employee management for lawn care professionals. I also work with large firms which produce marketing and web apps for fortune 500 companies. Web development is not cheap by any means but it is the most effective way to differentiate your company from others - so what you pay for is what you get. Hosting and domain names are really the cheapest part of the whole process. A domain name at godaddy will run you somewhere around $10/year ... I usually advise clients to register for multiple years if possible to avoid any issues. Hosting is also fairly cheap, but it's important to get a good host. I've gone through the paces of working with godaddy hosting(crap), blue-host(o.k.), lunar-pages(o.k.), dreamhost etc... I eventually setup a server with slicehost which allows me to actually control what software the server runs. I host about a dozen sites off that server but it also comes at a higher monthly cost. I would not worry about have 10 gigs of disk space/ 100gigs of transfer per month. Those numbers are severely inflated by server companies to get your business. I would suggest checking out lunar-pages as they are the best when it comes to customer service and also realistic features. Also, you need to look for linux hosting as opposed to microsoft server hosting. MS hosting limits the development possibilities because of proprietary software and will ultimately cost you more money in the end. If you have any questions feel free to PM me.
  8. Turboguy

    Turboguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,966

    I would agree with some of the advice here and disagree with some.

    I certainly can't disagree with the comment that everone should have a web site and that it is the best advertising dollar you can spend. Once your site is up the cost is almost nothing compared to other ways you can spend your advertising money.

    As far as the cost of a professionally done website there seems to be a lot of difference in opinions. My two cents worth are that you can get a really nice looking site professionally done for a few hundred. You can get a stunning site that will set you ahead of your competion for a few thousand. You can also get a crap site that will make you look bad for a few hundred or a few thousand. A little reseach when looking for someone to do your site will be a wise investment of your time.

    Personally the advice I thought was best would be to avoid the one stop site builder hosting. I agree it ties you in too much. If you create your own website independently you can move it to a new host at any time and you can probably save a lot of money.

    If you want to do your own and are good with things like that and want to invest your time more than your money a google search will turn up 1000's of free website templates just by doing a search for that term. There are WYSIWYG programs such as Komposer available for free. Domain names cost you $ 10.00 a year and hosting is easy to find for $ 5.00 - $10.00 a month. Basically your website doesn't have to cost even a hundred bucks a year and for the good it can do everyone should have one.

    Personally, I think if you have no experience you are better off letting a pro design your site. It is a one time cost and can save you countless hours and produce better results.
  9. WebMan

    WebMan LawnSite Member
    from D/FW TX
    Posts: 11

    I think that's accurate. The difference is I deal with the specific market rather than web sites in general. The above post from a designer is not out of line for the average "designer".
    However most service industry people don't need near the "web experience" of a multi-thousand dollar site. The consumer looking for a service like landscaping or such isn't looking for the elaborate "web site experience" that other sites would demand for success.
    As an example I did a site for a custom chopper shop (like the on-TV show types) last year and the intro alone for that site was over $3,500 and I got them a great deal through a friend on that (normal $6,000) for about 12 seconds of "intro" then plus the cost of the actual site.
    BUT when you are going for custom built bikes that are basically "playthings" of those with disposable income in a very "down" economy and with a lot of competition it was felt needed to get them on a par with the competition.

    However landscaping and a bike costing around $100K are 2 different markets entirely. In the service business people care little about a web site except for 2 things that they want to find out fast...do these people do what I need? and: Why are they really good at it or Why should I choose them instead of another company?
    Fast is because it is the Internet and people want fast or they wouldn't be there...secondly the other 2 are the basics a clean site with easy functionality that conveys those 2 elements quickly (you only have about 8-10 seconds to "catch" their attention enough to keep them on your site) and personally I haven't found people in service industries who spent large amounts for elaborate sites to make any more sales from them or especially profit (expense of site vs. profit generated from jobs gained) than a good, clean, web site that looks professional but gets your "message" across quickly and effectively. That's why I don't think over $300, especially in this economy, is "worth it" (unless you get someone who builds a stinker for $300) for a service business.
    The designer above is surely well within the average range for professional designers and that's what stops many small businesses. But I have always left those sites to folks like him and work 98% for contractors of one type or another (with the occasional referred exception like the bike shop) so I can turn out a contractor site for far less by going only for the elements that bring specific job leads. (and I am snowed under as well as having other things to do so I'm not trying to solicit anything in web design now or soon...just advice for the different philosophy of web design and the statement above being very accurate)
    Nothing against expensive, professional web sites at all but in my other life as a marketing & sales consultant primarily for the contracting field I am hearing from a LOT of desperate or semi-desperate people who are having bad or at least "off" years and so spending one to three grand for a web site is out of the question for them for now but having web site is more important than ever. That's why I would recommend a site builder if you have the stuff to do it yourself or a specialty designer that may not provide a "state of the art" web presence by today's latest technology but can build something you can afford. (Another place to look this time of year is just graduating college students -web site work is a tough job market & they need a portfolio so you might get the expensive site cheap if you got lucky & found the right "fresh grad" needing something "cool" to fill out their portfolio.
  10. Turboguy

    Turboguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,966

    Personally if someone wants to have their site professionally done I think there are some good reasons to go with someone with experience in creating sites in this industry. Perhaps if the contractor is good at selling and putting his ideas into words it would not be so important. Think of it this way. If one of our lawnsite contractors tried to come up with the wording and important points for a dance studio or a manufacturer of turbines how effective would they be? Someone who has done dozens of landscing or lawn care sites would have a much better handle on things.

    I think it is also important to define exactly what you want your site to accomlish, the clientel you want to appeal to. The services you want to promote, things that might be important to your customer, etc.

    As an example of what I am talking about in the type of client you want to attract if your website shows only multi million dollar estates with showcase lawns it might be the most attractive site around but if most of your customers are mill workers with cracker box homes you will create the impression that you don't look for them as a customer. If your website shows run of the mill, every day people houses the guys with multi million dollar houses won't be very drawn to your services.

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