BOCA RATON, FL - In a discussion group on using web pages more effectively, contractors shared the many ways that they make use of their site to sell, to recruit, and more.

Led by Jim Norris, chairman and chief operating officer of Excellence Alliance, Inc., Denver, CO, in a session on “Using the Internet” at EAI’s National Executive Meeting here, contractor-members showed how web savvy the hvac industry has become. Norris remarked that now about 90% of contractors have a web page.

A couple basic questions for contractors to ask themselves about their web page, he said, are, “Why are we here?” and “What do we want to get out of this?”

The benefits of a web page, stated Norris, are that it provides contractors a way to maintain a relationship with their customers, and it enables contractors to find ways to better serve their customers.

One contractor related that he sees his page as an electronic brochure. Another said that he lists employment opportunities on his website. This is a way to attract people who are computer literate.

Another member noted that he uses to find people, and to hire people out of the military; was mentioned as a good source for engineers and technicians.

With so many companies now on the web, contractors can check out their competitors’ websites to keep up with what others are doing.

A member informed the group that he saved money by switching to a cable modem, which gave him a faster connection. Listing DSL, T-1, and other Internet connection options, Norris said, “The differentiator is speed.”

Web surfers won’t wait, he added. “If somebody has to wait for your logo to download, say goodbye.”

Norris also declared that it’s good to be listed on search engines, but don’t count on them to produce useful hits.

Participants cited as a useful tool to help design-build firms get subcontractors. Manufacturer sites will refer customers to contracting firms, but a contractor said that a problem with this is that there is no exclusivity.

“Where do you publish your web address?” asked Norris.

“Everywhere,” responded the entire group.

Norris recommended that contractors provide a matrix on their website with cost comparisons of different efficiency systems, along with details on the systems.

He also suggested supplying links to various hvac-related information sites. If a company collects customer e-mail addresses, an e-mail newsletter can be sent out with seasonal information, etc.

Summing up, Norris said, “With a website, we can attract customers, serve customers, and retain customers.”

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Publication date: 12/25/2000