A dynamic website can improve any business.
Matt Preuss, owner of Cutting Edge Landscape Design, of Los Alamitos, California, and Krisjan Berzins, owner and CEO of Kingstowne Lawn & Landscape, of Alexandria, Virginia, sing the praises of what a new, updated site can do for a company.
MONTHS IN THE MAKING.
For Preuss, the process started after he received something in the mail from a digital marketing agency.
“I got a flyer in the mail to do a website audit. That was two years ago last summer,” he says. “We were at a turning point in our business, where we needed that fresh, new look. Our website through the years had different people putting their hands on it, and it got us through. But we never had that professional look we wanted.”
Preuss says he worked with the consultants for about six months, brainstorming ideas for the new website.
“We had Zoom video conferences for about six months, talking about what are the priorities of my business, what are the priorities of my life and what do I want out of landscaping and design work,” he says.
Berzins says he also worked with a consultant to revamp his company’s site. The whole process took him about nine months.
“It was probably about three years ago or so that I started the process,” he says. “The site we had at the time was probably six to seven years old, which doesn’t sound like much, but in the technology world a lot changes. So, that’s relatively old.”
Berzins said that he found his new consultants by doing some research after the previous site’s designers quoted him a very high price for a website revamp.
“We spent a tremendous amount of money on the old site and it was very customized,” he says.
“It was a little clunky on the back end in terms of seeing analytics and being able to see traffic to the site. It was there, but it wasn’t easy for us to go in and make changes. We had to keep going to them and they’d bill us.”
Berzins said the site was moved from WordPress over to HubSpot, which he says has helped with search engine optimization (SEO).
Preuss said having the website sell his company and his vision was his main objective.
“I wanted my customer to go to it and read about us, understand our process, look at the pictures and submit a form because there’s no one else out there who’s going to deliver a backyard like us,” he says.
“I wanted the website to sell me before I even had to show up.”
Additionally, to set himself apart, Preuss also worked to revitalize his company’s logo.
“I created the logo myself 18 years ago, and I wanted someone who had the marketing background to say, ‘This is how you expand it and focus in on a better clientele.’ It’s amazing to see that by just changing it slightly, and changing the font, the different types of clients we get now,” he says.
Berzins says having organic traffic, meaning visitors who land on a website as a result of unpaid searches, and SEO were very important to him.
“Sites need to be built a certain way in terms of SEO in order to show up on Google on page one,” he says.
According to Berzins, “the organic traffic has gone through the roof” since the revamp.
Making sure his company’s work was front and center was also a priority for Berzins.
“I was always adamant about having our own pictures of our own work and not just stock photos,” he says. “Until three years ago, we never had any professional photography done. It was always just us with a camera or cellphone. That was a big part of what I wanted.”
Berzins says Kingstowne’s redesign let the company’s reputation speak for itself online.
“In our industry, a lot of companies boast about awards they’ve won, all the trucks they have, their beautiful facility, all things that are nice but in the grand scheme of things are only small pieces of the puzzle for a customer,” he says. “It sounds obvious, but it should be about the customer and not bragging about how great you are.”
“I wanted the website to sell me before I even had to show up.” Matt Preuss, owner, Cutting Edge Landscape Design
EXPENSIVE, BUT ESSENTIAL.
While completely upgrading a website isn’t cheap, Berzins and Preuss both said it’s a smart business decision.
“It’s been great,” Preuss says. “It has transformed my business. From a monetary standpoint, I was always a $1 or $1.5 million business. Since the website, I’m a $2.5 or $3 million business. It’s just doubled everything.”
But as the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money.
“It’s not cheap, but if you’re going to have a website that stands out over your competition, you’ve got to put the time, money and effort into it,” he says. “You’re going to get the value back pretty quickly.”
Preuss says the website is one aspect of the advertising budget he’d never sacrifice.
“We spend $100,000 a year on advertising. It’s the number one thing I wouldn’t cut out of a budget,” he says. “Us landscapers can get to a point where we think we don’t need to advertise, but I think if you stop marketing yourself, you’ll become a dinosaur. You just don’t cut website, and that kind of advertising, out ever.”
HELPFUL FOR HIRING.
Preuss and Berzins say their new websites have had unexpected bonuses.
“It’s helped with recruiting,” he says. “I’ve had applicants say, ‘I looked at your site and it looks like an awesome place to work.’ Some companies may have a cool culture but not ways to promote it. It wasn’t really a goal but looking back it’s a big part of the website.”
Preuss says he also has plans to increase recruiting through his website.
“We’re coming up with a career page and going back to revamp a couple of other things,” he says. “We’ll always trying to recruit talent and new designers to work for us.”
WORTH THE WORK.
If anyone is on the fence about improving their site, Berzins recommends taking the leap.
“We had what we thought was a great site and it looked cool, but it didn’t have the messaging we needed, the high-quality photography we needed, and it wasn’t promoting our culture,” Berzins says.
Preuss says he’d advise companies to work with a consultant and to make sure they find the right fit.
“Do your research on finding the right website designer and find the person who can virtually put their arm around you and talk to you about your strengths and weaknesses as an individual and as a company,” he says.
Berzins says if that person has experience with the green industry, that’s even better.
“If you’re looking for a company to build you a new website, I’d say very few will know anything about our industry,” he says. “If you can find one who does, that’s a home run.”