Websites in my opinion (at least for this industry) are not really meant to draw in more biz. What they do: Give you a more professional image, Give people the opportunity to find out a little more info without having to talk to anyone, and they help with branding(because of increase exposure. Now as far as the payments are concerned. I do not know if you will see a significant amount of bill pays through your web. However, I am a believer in giving them as many options as possible to pay you. That way if they do not pay they have know excuse.
Agreed. But habits are changing and people are using the web more and more for shopping anything and everything, your services included. So for ten bucks a month to help your branding effort and possibly snag a sale or two more than without it, why not. As far as accepting payments, there is an entire sea of methods for accepting online payments. Start by doing a google search for that phrase "accepting online payments".
I almost had 50/50 on phone calls and emails for estimates last year. Which is great, because I can answer emails at any time. I just picked up a snow customer that I conversed with solely through email. I include my website on all advertising, everywhere I put a phone number. Folks around here are computer savvy and use the web just as much as a phone book. I've got an add in the yellow pages website, as well as other local web portals. I certainly do get new business and make money thanks to my website.
As far as online payments go, look into Billing Solutions through quickbooks. You don't have to host an online payment center to do that, it's all through them, completely secure, and hassel free.
Like I said, I push the site. You can't just make a site and hope people show up. There are local registries for websites like phonebooks for phone numbers. Crosslink, use meta tags, do whatever to get your site on a search engine (except pay, that's a rip off). Cross promote with other local websites as well. If you put it out there, people will use it and come to you. Everything I have my phone # on has the website address. Tshirts, cards, truck signs, postcards, fliers, phone book, everything.
the thing is that I do put it on everything; yellow pages, letterheads, business cards, search engines, marketing material promote with other businesses...it is on everything. Yet I am lucky to get 2 to 3 people call me or email from the website