Tools to attract customers

Welcome to “The Better Way: A podcast by Buildertrend.” Here you’ll learn to simplify and establish processes that will make meaningful changes to your company and help you achieve your goals. Because there’s a better way. The Buildertrend way. Tune in this season as host Zach Wojtowicz, a corporate development strategist at Buildertrend, and our experts and consultants to teach best practices for sales and lead management.

This season’s third episode highlights how online tools help builders reach the right customers.

Listen to the full episode to hear Alex Suarez, Buildertrend’s web services sales manager, share his insight on how builders can win business through their websites.

WHY SHOULD I CHANGE MY WEBSITE?

“You got to keep in mind this is your web presence. This is where people find you first, before you can even have a conversation with them. It’s your opportunity to show off, so to speak, before you even have had a conversation. And so, put something out there that’s quality, that’s only going to help you. I know people are really busy right now. And a lot of people are saying, ‘Well, I’m turning down a lot of work.’ And that’s true, but that’s not always going to be the case. So we want to leave a good impression on people. And that is with that website, you can ultimately do that. Because people remember certain homes that you built or certain things that look awesome.”

WHAT DO THE BEST BUILDER WEBSITES HAVE?

“I try to keep it simple with people and say, ‘What are the three most important things you’re looking for?’ And on the residential side, I think it’s, ‘Who are you? What services do you provide? And then ultimately, let me see your work.’ People have a short attention span. They’re only going to read so much. So we don’t need a long lengthy bio about yourself because they’re only going to read about three or four sentences before they’re like, ‘I want to see what kitchens you’ve built,’ or ‘What homes you’ve put together?’ So I try to stick to those, if you’re a home builder and maybe you have inventory because your a spec builder, put that online, put your floor plans out there. If you’re a remodeling company, bullet point the types of remodels you’re willing to take on, kitchens, baths, full-scale additions, whatever it may be.”

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Alex Suarez | Buildertrend

Zach Wojtowicz:

Welcome to “The Better Way” Podcast, by Buildertrend. Here, you’ll learn to simplify and establish processes that will make meaningful changes to your company and help you achieve your goals. There’s a better way to run your construction business. The Buildertrend way. Tune in this season as our experts and consultants join me to teach best practices for sales and lead management. On today’s episode, learn more about the best tools to use attracting customers with Alex Suarez, web services, sales manager, app Buildertrend. Welcome to the better way, Zach Wojtowicz, as always here on season four, talking about sales strategy. And today we have another guest, Alex Suarez from Buildertrend is joining me. Now, Alex is a veteran of “The Building Code.” You’ve been on a couple of times now, right?

Alex Suarez:

Yeah, not for a couple of years though, since COVID and everybody was out of the office. It’s good to be back.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah, well today we’re in, we’re good to go. Alex, why don’t we just remind our listeners if they’ve never listened to “The Building Code,” what do you do here at Buildertrend?

Alex Suarez:

I work in our website department. One of the value added services we have at Buildertrend is website development and it’s something we’ve done really since the infancy stage of the Buildertrend program is developed websites for clients. So after working in the sales part of Buildertrend for a long time, a few years ago, transitioned down to the website department to try to really get that off the ground, invest more resources and grow it to really what it is today, which is very, very popular among the clients.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Well, I want to get into that a little bit, but I think it’s worth acknowledging. What is your employee number here at Buildertrend?

Alex Suarez:

I’m No. 2.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Number two. Wow. I truly am honored.

Alex Suarez:

December 2006.

Zach Wojtowicz:

He is an OG of Buildertrend.

Alex Suarez:

Yep. 15 years. It’s wild.

Zach Wojtowicz:

When he said he was on the sales team for a long time, he really meant it.

Alex Suarez:

Exactly. And I look back, wow. I mean, it was crazy that where it started and where it’s going and all these Pro Services that we have, all of these additional services that we offer now just supplement the base program, which has been great.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. And I think it’s definitely worth diving into a little bit of the stats. How many websites do we actively host today?

Alex Suarez:

I think we’re over 400 and some now, among all of our clients. And we really only market to our clients. We have a few people that don’t use our software, but still love the fact that we only work with contractors and they just gravitate towards that. They know that we know this industry, that the size of our group, the resources we have is just the best option for them. So we only take on a certain amount each month because we want to make sure our clients are getting the absolute best service. So we’re not trying to over load everybody, we want everybody to manage their workload and do a great job.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. I think I’ve got the chance to listen to you on your sales calls as well. I mean, we really try to make sure it’s the right fit, the right time to transition to a Buildertrend website. And I know you spent a lot of your time looking at websites all day, for our listeners out there that are on the fence or they think their website’s good. What do you see in people’s websites that tell you it’s time for a new one, or to explore a website alternative brought to them by Buildertrend?

Alex Suarez:

Yeah, I think there’s usually a few things that people look for. Maybe their stuff is outdated, it’s old technology. Sometimes they don’t have the best relationship with their current provider or they needed a better option. And since they’re already using our software and they trust us, they trust our team on that side of it, it’s just such a natural option for them to look at what we have to offer, to see the quality of the websites that we have. And the team of designers and developers we have or are awesome. And they take care of the clients. They’re there to answer questions. They’re not the people that, they built you a website, and you can’t find them in a month and you don’t know how to update or anything. I mean, we’re one phone call away at all times.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. I think that’s another piece that is probably a little bit unsung on even say our CS floor, when they sign up for a website through Buildertrend, it’s not just a website, they’re actually getting someone that helps them. What are some of the services that the designers do?

Alex Suarez:

Yeah, absolutely. We just say you’re a partner from the development side of it, but also helping the update, maintain the site. We do give our clients access to some of the backend. But we train them and teach them how they can add things on their own to the site, whether it’s pictures, whether it’s content that they want to put on there, but they always have a resource and that’s their dedicated designer. Ever need anything, they know exactly where to find us, which is a big help for them.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Now, when you’re looking at people’s websites and you’re having conversations with them, what are generally their pain points that you notice in their website that it’s like, this could use a little touch up?

Alex Suarez:

Well, I try to keep it simple with people and say, “What are the three most important things you’re looking for?” And on the residential side, I think it’s, “Who are you? What services do you provide? And then ultimately, let me see your work.” People have a short attention span. They’re only going to read so much. So we don’t need a long lengthy bio about yourself because they’re only going to read about three or four sentences before they’re like, “I want to see what kitchens you’ve built,” or “What homes you’ve put together?”

Alex Suarez:

So I try to stick to those, if you’re a home builder and maybe you have inventory because your a spec builder, put that online, put your floor plans out there. If you’re a remodeling company, bullet point the types of remodels you’re willing to take on, kitchens, baths, full-scale additions, whatever it may be. On the commercial side I say, “Listen, people, if you’re a commercial contractor, what type of commercial work do you do?” If you build homes, you build a home, but if you’re a commercial contractor, are you doing retail? Are you doing restaurants? Are you doing tenant improvements, steel buildings? We need to understand what you’re capable of doing so that people really can find you and understand that you’re going to be the right contractor for them.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah, absolutely. And what’s the timeline in your process as far as if someone’s interested in getting their website looked at, the demo, signing up and then getting their new website live, what’s kind of the turnaround time that you guys generally expect?

Alex Suarez:

We want to be three to four weeks, from our initial consultation where we just sit down with the client and we go over their business, who are you, what services do you provide? Where does most of your clients come from? Is this going to be a sales driven website or is it more portfolio based? So we have to go through these questions. And then obviously we look at a lot of different layouts, page structure, and come up with that game plan of what it’s going to look like and how it’s going to function. And then it’s a fluid process from there. We start to build the framework of the site, come back to the revisions and edits, make sure we get everything to the client’s liking, show them the back end, show them they can update things on their own and if we’re a good position, we launch. So we try to get everything done in about three to four weeks.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Are there any just general recommendations that you could make to someone who, they know they have a website, they know they have some improvement, but maybe they’re not ready to commit for building a new one that they could do on their own. What can you do to improve your website, to get your presence out there to make it look more appealing or anything that you can impart?

Alex Suarez:

Yeah. I just think that you got to keep in mind, this is your web presence. This is where people find you first, before you can even have a conversation with them. It’s your opportunity to show off, so to speak, before you even have had a conversation. And so, put something out there that’s quality, that’s only going to help you. I know people are really busy right now. And a lot of people are saying, “Well, I’m turning down a lot of work.” And that’s true, but that’s not always going to be the case. So we want to leave a good impression on people. And that is with that website, you can ultimately do that. Because people remember certain homes that you built or certain things that look awesome. They’ll remember that, they might not remember your whole bio like we talked about, but they’ll remember some of those pictures that they saw.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Just they’re there to learn about their builder.

Alex Suarez:

Well they do a little bit, but that’s usually after that first conversation. But a lot of times we say, “Let some of the pictures, let some of the videos do the talking for you.” People like that right now.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah, for sure. I mean, we had Courtney Mattern on here, digital content marketing specialist or director at Buildertrend, talk about that a lot, social media and the impact of that, websites play into that quite a bit. I want to touch on a little bit. Buildertrend actually has some free services that they’re just built into your cost of subscription. There’s no additional fee. Can you speak a little bit about the contact form and the login box?

Alex Suarez:

Yeah. So we want to make everything streamlined with the sites and the software. So the portal, when you guys invite your clients in to use Buildertrend, we want them to go through the website. If they’re on their phone, obviously they’ll probably just use the app, but if they’re at their home computer, direct people to the site.

Alex Suarez:

Because then first of all, they’re getting more familiar with your business. They’re always going to your site. Second of all, you’re getting more clicks on your site, which only can help your SEO. And from the contact point or contact form standpoint, it all streamlines through. They fill out the form that you can customize, so you can get their name and phone number, email, great. But you can ask them more questions, do you have a budget? Do you have a timeline? How’d you hear about us? And that all maps in and goes into our sales portion of Buildertrend and creates new contact in there for you. So there’s no double entry being done. So it’s really a great tool to have and just kind of keeps immersing these builders in the Buildertrend software, which is why they have it to streamline what they’re doing. And this is another example of that.

Zach Wojtowicz:

On that note, I think we’ve been talking a lot. We’ve had a lot of different guests talking about different pieces, and I just like to paint the picture of the dream of a sales process. You have a great website that a customer can experience, see your work, your pictures, what you really do as a builder. They go to the contact form, they fill it out, that pushes it in the sales side. You’ve got a proposal that you’ve built that you can then turn around immediately, if you’ve built some of those other, we’ve talked about this in a few different episodes, proposal templates. You get it out with your contract language, you release it, the customer signs it. Now they come back to your website, log in to see Buildertrend. It sounds like there’s a lot to that. And I want our listeners to know, it really is about having clear priorities, setting up a plan and then just following up on those and really making it a process. And that’s what we mean by that.

Alex Suarez:

Absolutely. And even people that are visiting the site, with the marketing video that we put on the builder’s website right next to the portal.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah, I forgot about that.

Alex Suarez:

Yeah, people are like, “What’s this portal you have?” As a visitor to the site who is not yet a client, oh, let me watch the video that talks about this wonderful experience they’re going to have with the builder when they come on board. So, yeah it’s a marketing tool, but it’s also a way that you’re running your business too. So definitely a huge benefit for the contractor.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. And I think it’s really easy to forget how important it is because you were talking about, it’s a passive thing. “I’m too busy right now to keep up to it.” And I love that you’re pointing out, that might not always be the case, but I think it’s at this point, an expectation that you have a website.

Alex Suarez:

Absolutely.

Zach Wojtowicz:

That 10 years ago when you were in sales, was it as big of a thing in the construction industry? Has it evolved to where this is much more of a requirement?

Alex Suarez:

People understood What the websites were, but depending on where you were in time and now it is. If you don’t have a website, people will just go right past you. And sometimes I’ll see where somebody has an email address and it’s Bob@BobSmithbuilder.com. And so I assume BobSmithbuilder.com is there a website. You can go there, you copy and paste and nothing shows up because they don’t have a site. So you’re kind of like, “Well, oh, great. I’m moving on to somebody who does. Because I want to verify, I want to validate this contractor before I decided to call them.” And even if it’s totally portfolio-based, like I get your referral or your word of mouth, they’re still going to go there first and see if you are the right contractor for them. So it’s just very important to have.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. I just think about even me as a consumer, if I’m going to go buy an appliance or I go buy anything, that’s what I do instinctively. I just go Google whatever it is I’m looking for. How far do you go into the Google search?

Alex Suarez:

Not far.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I’m like maybe two pages in, so if I don’t have an attractive website, I’m not getting clicks. I’m not getting views. You’re just falling deeper down into the Google black hole, never to be seen again.

Alex Suarez:

Yeah. Which nobody goes to. And we try to help them out early on with making everything SEO friendly with the search engine optimization, which that includes setting up a Google My Business page, Google Analytics to help them track their traffic. So you have some basic keyword research and competitor analysis, give them a list of back links to acquire, which are going to be important. So these things just really get them off on the right foot besides just, “Hey, here’s your website.” So we speak to them about some of those services and how they can take advantage of that too.

Zach Wojtowicz:

You’re using words like back links and Google Analytics. I’m like, “Aha?” I’m nodding right now. But if you’re a builder and you’re listening to this and you’re like, “I don’t know what that means either.” There’s nothing wrong with that. But that’s the value of what Buildertrend provides, to give you some of that content and stuff maybe you’re missing, that your website needs.

Alex Suarez:

And we explain, this is why this is good for you. This is why it’s going to help you. This is why you need to secure your website and have a mobile friendly website, because these are all things that Google and their algorithms, they look at. Google is so smart these days, and it’s different than it used to be where if you had a pizza shop, you tried to say the word pizzas many times in your website and you rewarded for that and moved up the list. And Google is just smart now they know well, [crosstalk] … “People read and they talk.” And so you got to be effective with your content writing, but also on the backend things like back links, how do people get from one website back to your website? So these things are important.

Zach Wojtowicz:

For sure. If you can quantify it or give me just your gut reaction, but compare one builder whose website isn’t as solid compared to someone who has a really great website, what’s the impact? What do you think they get for putting the effort in?

Alex Suarez:

I think it’s significant. I think that people know today what’s outdated and what’s not. And if I can see somebody’s site that’s updated and maintained, it must be that their business operates the same way.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Great point.

Alex Suarez:

Again, it’s your first impression and that’s very important. Having a site that’s not secure where you see in the left-hand corner, it says, not secure. There’s a lot of things that can happen there and people who can be prevented from actually going to the website and will say not a secure connection. And right there, you see that, you’re moving on. This guy doesn’t even secure his site. What else is he not doing? So you got to look at some of that stuff.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Is he following OSHA out on the job site? Doesn’t even secure his website.

Alex Suarez:

Exactly. But those are the things we point out, even to people that don’t have sites with us and I’ll look at the sites with them and they might decide to stick with what they’re at and I’ll tell them, “Hey, listen, one thing I would really suggest is call your current provider and secure your website because I can get on there. But somebody who’s firewalls on their computer maybe are a little tougher, they’re not going to be able to get in.” So, that’s something that you need to do.

Zach Wojtowicz:

What do you see when you’re on your demos with people with their current providers, is it they built it themselves? Is that the most common customer you’re seeing? I always heard my nephew, he does it on the side.

Alex Suarez:

And that’s fine. Some of those people really talented. Absolutely. And you can tell that did a good job and we’re not afraid to tell people that they have a good website. If they come to us and like, “Hey, we heard about these services and listen, you have a great website. Is it functioning well?” “Yeah.” We’ll tell them, “That’s great. At least you’re getting what you’re paying for.” But there are the standard template based services where it’s kind of just drag and drop and that’s fine. Some of those, a lot of those don’t have the full functionality of some of the sites that we build.

Alex Suarez:

We build in WordPress, which we feel has the most functionality of any platform out there. But a lot of people will pay a marketing company or an ad agency to do their site and it can get pretty pricey depending on what they want in it and how sophisticated is going to be. So people have to weigh a lot of different options out there. But we think we present a really great one. We only build websites for contractors. That’s a huge selling point for us. This is what we do every day. We’re not building them for a restaurant and then a law firm. It’s just construction-related stuff, all the time.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And I’ve always wanted to hear the story from an OG of the company, but didn’t Buildertrend start as a website company?

Alex Suarez:

We funded a lot of Buildertrend by selling our websites because early on our pitch was, we handle web services for contractors. What does that mean? And that’s what people would say, “Well, what does that mean?” “Oh, well we develop websites for contractors.” “Oh, that makes sense. I know what a website is, is 2006.” And then we would say, “Oh yeah, by the way, we have a backend system called Buildertrend. Would you like to demo that too?” “Yeah. Let’s take a look at both.” So it was kind of, how do we get in the door with these guys when we’re cold calling people all over the country? They’ve never heard of Buildertrend ever. There’s five guys working out of a office with three cubes. So that was our pitch. And we sold it different, we demanded, we didn’t demand, but we asked for the money upfront so that we could fund a lot of what we’re doing with Buildertrend, which was great. I mean, it was hard work, but it’s kind of how we got started.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. And that’s one big difference now, that I think from a competitive standpoint, we don’t charge upfront for the design or anything like that.

Alex Suarez:

We don’t. Nope. It’s just a monthly payment, which again is an advantage for us because a lot of these companies, all the money they want, they want it upfront. Unfortunately, if you don’t like your website in three months, they’re not giving the money back. So, with us, because we have a monthly fee, because we don’t take money upfront, we got to make sure we’re doing the best job for you, the site’s working for you. So you stay with us, because we don’t have contracts either. So if somebody didn’t enjoy the service, they could leave at any point. So we got to make sure we’re doing our job.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Best for the customer on that end.

Alex Suarez:

That’s right.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Well, we’re just about out of time, Alex, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you about our web services, a little history of Buildertrend.

Alex Suarez:

Absolutely. Yep.

Zach Wojtowicz:

This is great. We’ll get you back on the podcast again. You’re at this point, a staple.

Alex Suarez:

That’s right. Whatever, you let me know.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Fantastic. Thanks for joining us. “The Better Way” here. Thanks for checking us out, signing off. Thanks for listening to “The Better Way.” If you’re a Buildertrend customer, schedule a training to learn more. All listeners, be sure to rate, review and subscribe to “The Better Way” wherever you get your podcasts. Visit buildertrend.com/podcast to sign up for the email notifications, when the next season drops, and explore our original podcast, “The Building Code.” Don’t miss our next episode, focused on marketing your business online.


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