Information for building a better remodeling Web site with SEO; marketing with financing; and going green by reducing, reusing and recycling.
If you have a Trade Secret you would like to share, e-mail Senior Editor Jonathan Sweet at email@example.com .
When Blue Ribbon Residential Construction  decided to improve it's Web site, the company knew it wanted to use a professional firm rather than tackle it themselves as they had before.
"We wanted to work with people who would be able to help us drive people to our site. We wanted people who knew exactly what they were doing," says Marcia Townsend, office manager for the Raleigh, N.C., company. Blue Ribbon hired Vision Point Marketing, a local firm specializing in electronic marketing.
One of the most important things Vision Point did was design the site using search engine optimization, or SEO. Put simply, SEO means writing site text so it uses popular search keywords to draw people in; site design takes advantage of search algorithms.
Vision Point brought Blue Ribbon 300 pages of key words and asked the management team to pick out the ones that best described their company and the customers they were trying to attract. In the case of Blue Ribbon, that meant focusing on landing higher-end, design/build jobs. Vision Point took that list, pared it down and wrote the text for the site to include those words.
The results have been overwhelming. Traffic to Blue Ribbon's site (www.blue-ribbon-construction.com ) is up more than 200 percent since the new site was launched, and potential clients are spending more time when they visit. More leads are coming from the site as well. Even more importantly, the company is now landing larger design/build jobs, a key goal of the Web site update. Most projects now fall between $100,000 and $150,000, with some topping $200,000. Before the new site, most jobs were in the $50,000 to $80,000 range, Townsend says.
The Windsor Construction Group  found a new way to generate business: offering clients help paying for their financing.
Under a new promotion the company started earlier this year, Windsor will pay 1 percent of the total contract cost to clients if they use the company's preferred lender, Bank of America.
"With the difficulties in the financing end of things right now, it's a way we can soften that blow," says President Jim Wolohan. "So far, we've had an overwhelming response."
The Rockville, Md.-based company plans to run the promotion at least through the end of the year. The program is not only helping increase leads, it also encourages clients to use the preferred lender, which can make the financing process run more smoothly.
"They're very well versed in these types of loans and know the value of what we do," Wolohan says. "It's a little different than if they try to go out and get the loan on their own from their local bank or someone who doesn't know the industry as well."
ARC Design-Build has made it a mission to find ways to reduce the waste the company produces.
On every project, the Huntsville, Ala., design/build remodeler looks for any products that can be reused or recycled during the demolition stage. For example, the company often finds a use for the handmade bricks that are so common in homes ARC remodels.
If ARC can't reuse the products, the company will donate them to the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, where they are sold to benefit the program.
For products that can't be reused or donated, ARC tries to find ways to recycle them. The company has even found a firm in northern Alabama that will recycle debris such as 2 by 4s and drywall.
"We may have to take special trips instead of just throwing it in a Dumpster, but we feel it's important," says company President Anders Adelfang.
The company also tries to reduce the waste it produces by specifying products that are recyclable and even considering factors such as the amount of packaging and if it's recyclable when selecting materials for a project.
"We try to reduce the amount of waste from the get-go," Adelfang says. "Because we're design/build we can specify the products we use and then make sure they get installed properly without waste on the construction side."