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The Web site is the brainchild of Larry Sims, a former roofing contractor and holder of a Master’s Degree in Computer Science. The Web site was born out of a concern for finding the right customers for his former company, which he founded in 1995 along with son, Chad.
“I had a hard time finding customers who were a good match for my company,” he said. “I was spending $2,000 on Yellow Pages ads and we were getting calls from out of state for our services. I needed to be nationwide.”
Sims felt he could serve the industry better with his computer background, and he saw the need for a Web site that both homeowners and contractors could use. So he sold his company to his employees last January and committed himself to getting his idea of a contractor Web site up and running.
Some of the features of contractorguide.com that benefit customers include:
- List of qualified contractors who work in their area;
- List of home improvement product suppliers and manufacturers;
- Information about how to accomplish home improvement projects (Sims lists over 80 home improvement specialty areas in the website’s database.); and
- Free and convenient to use.
The Web site includes information about national organizations such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), and International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA), and links to their Web sites. There are also rules for hiring a contractor written by Paul Bianchina.
“We have 82 project categories that cover about 90% of what all contractors do,” explained Sims. “We are offering free memberships to contractors, suppliers, and manufacturers who want to list with our service.”
SlowstartThe Web site went on-line in October and Sims has signed up 300 contractors so far, which is lower than what his expectations were.
“It’s been really slow,” he said. “Contractors have been reluctant to pay money to sign up. Ninety percent of them are just taking the free listing.”
Sims was referring to the cost of listing on the Web site. Any contractor can have a free listing and the fees range from $15 to $135 per year for more prominent listings that show up first on Internet search engines.
“We are hoping to get into the top ten of at least 50 search engine categories,” Sims added. “Right now we haven’t done much marketing, staying in the background and sending out a few e-mails.
“We would like to sign up 10,000 to 30,000 contractors,” he concluded.Â