Just a Click Away Foundation Contractors have much to gain from establishing a presence on the World Wide Web, say these contractors.


or Teresa Stricklen-Rechlicz, West Milwaukee, WI, putting her poured concrete basement wall, exterior flatwork and decorative
stamping business online was simple business logic. The company wanted to reach its customers after discovering that 80% of them have computers. Stricklen-Rechlicz, who has been online for over three years, says she is gaining customers she may otherwise have missed. "We've had a few wheelchair-bound and housebound customers who really appreciate being able to find a contractor on the internet."    Jackie Hurst, Dalton, GA, has had similar success. Hurst has been pouring concrete walls in North Georgia, Greater Chattanooga, and the surrounding areas for the past 11 years. She has had her website, www.wallbuildersinc.com, up for eight months. "It gives clients another
avenue to learn about our company and our services," she says.    Any contractor who spends most of the day on the jobsite will appreciate the convenience of a home page for his business, say these concrete contractors. Customers can access information even when there's no one in the office to take a call. In essence, a website works like a toll-free telephone number and a 24-hour salesman. It provides customers with instant access to a company's information, and promotes the business.    Both these contractors keep their webpages simple. Their sites contain a description of the company, its services, project photos, and most important, real-life contact information including location, fax and phone numbers, and e-mail address. Stricklen-Rechlicz also maintains her list of references and regularly posts photos of recent projects, particularly decorative concrete work, on the company's webpage, which you'll find at www.Kar-Construction.com. Customers especially like the photos, says Stricklen-Rechlicz. "When they don't know what they want, the photos give them ideas. It helps them to see the color, stamping and the patterns of our previous jobs," she says.    These contractors keep customers at their sites, by explaining construction methods and products and why they are used. Visitors to Stricklen-Rechlicz' page learn about the benefits of poured concrete construction, and how to care for their exterior concrete flatwork.    Getting a site up can be frustrating, say these contractors. Finding the right person or business to design your site takes some research. Use a company you feel comfortable with and who
LET YOUR WEBSITE DO THE TALKING: If you spend most of the day in the field, have your website give your customers information without making them wait for you. Show off your best work by posting job photos and, if applicable, contact information of satisfied customers who would put in a good word for you. understands your business, advises Stricklen-Rechlicz. Even,so, if you're a creative do-it-yourself kind of person, with the right software, you can have a go at it by yourself, she adds.    If you want the most mileage from your site, post your web address wherever you would want the company name visible, including on signs at the jobsite. "Our web address is on all business cards and company literature," says Hurst. "We've painted it on our trucks and even put it on pens we had for another marketing promotion," says Stricklen-Rechlicz. "Every bit of exposure helps."    Other recommendations: Exchange links with your trade association or with other concrete businesses so that customers interested in their products and services will also have access to your site and vice versa. If you have an e-mail address, use it. But check and respond to e-mail. Not doing so is equivalent to not returning telephone calls. If pressed for time, always send a responce to a customer to let them know you received their message and will respond shortly.¶