From the Tuffin’ It Out archive
(Though this article originally appeared in 2012, it remains relevant. In fact, Houzz will be presenting at NARI’s Spring Business Meeting March 27, 2014, in New Orleans, about how to effectively use the online platform. To register for this free event, visit the NARI Website.)
Houzz.com is the latest social-networking site making a splash in the home remodeling/design industry. The site has the necessary components—interactivity, photos, profiles, tagging, sharing, categories and informative articles.
The site has visually driven content and online data collection (known as Ideabooks) for the consumer. Consumers interested in anything home related benefit greatly from perusing the site—trends are categorized or easily searched, and they can have direct communication with professionals, asking them what products were used or connecting with local professionals on actual projects.
Remodelers are finding the site useful in promoting their work and expertise, as well as reaching their target consumer. A handful of NARI members discuss how they use Houzz and the benefits and opportunities that stemmed from their use of this new social platform.
Monica Miller, CR, Sales Manager, J.S. Brown & Co., Columbus, Ohio
Company on Houzz since February 2012
Goals: Miller joined Houzz in February as a way to raise the profile of J.S. Brown & Co., in the Columbus area as well as the industry at large. Remodeling photos from Houzz are tagged with the J.S. Brown Website to use as a search engine optimization tool.
Opportunities: “We publish new project photos regularly, and our clients set up Ideabooks for their projects so we can see what they like,” Miller says. “I think it helps to have a broad selection of photos to use with clients in the early design stages so we can collaborate on the look they want for their project.”
Proven benefits: “We have already been contacted by someone doing an article for Kitchen and Bath Design News because she saw our photos on our Houzz page,” Miller says. And, at least one prospective client that Miller spoke with looked her company up on Houzz before calling, even though it was not the client’s initial point of discovery.
Miller is also able to gauge popularity of photos based on how many people add them to their Ideabooks, comment or share on other social networks. “We use the indirect feedback of the popularity of different project photos to see what resonates with the public at large and that may influence our marketing efforts over time,” she says. She adds that, because the site is free, it makes for a good supplement to other paid marketing activities.
Kelli Laufer, Office Manager, Cornerstone Builders Inc., Beaverton, Ore.
Company on Houzz since March 2012
Goals: Laufer uses Houzz as a way to get her company’s name in front of homeowners looking to spend money on improving their homes. “We were going to use Pinterest, but Houzz seems to attract people that are more serious about working on their homes,” she says.
Another goal was to use Houzz as a tool to help clients with the selection process and as a sales tool for prospective clients. “We always refer new clients to Houzz and ask them to start an Ideabook of everything they like, and we go from there,” Laufer says.
Opportunities: In the last four months, two Cornerstone clients have utilized Houzz in the selection process, and Laufer is hoping an upcoming whole house remodeling client will also use it. “It has helped us greatly understand our clients and provide them with the look and products that they want,” Laufer says.
She also has found benefit in interacting with clients on Houzz. “We try to provide a lot of detail in our response to questions and comments because people tend to tag pages in Ideabooks when the contractor provides good advice,” she says. She also started a poll on the Houzz site last week, and hopes to use the results as new blog content or press materials.
Proven benefits: Interestingly, Laufer connected and hired other professionals in her local area from the Houzz site. “We found a cabinetmaker through Houzz and worked with him on a project,” she says. She adds that following designers helps her stay in line with design trends and having popular designers follow her also gives her company a boost in credibility.
Laufer gathers client reviews through the Houzz site and repurposes them on her company Website as well.
Duane Johns, Owner, Advanced Renovations Inc., Charlotte, N.C.
Company on Houzz since June 2011
Goals: Johns was telling his clients about Houzz before starting his company profile. “It was a great tool for homeowners to use as an online catalogue,” Johns says. “People prefer to browse Houzz to make selections or envision a remodel over a showroom, which is limited.”
Eventually, Johns realized that he could utilize Houzz to showcase signature projects in a professional way. “I don’t have the time to build a mega portfolio to showcase my work—Houzz allows me to create a portfolio easily and customize it to fit my needs,” he says.
Opportunities: Every time Johns introduces Houzz to a client, he becomes a hero. He says that once they start, they cannot wait to show him what they’ve added to their Ideabooks. The positive response from clients is a true reflection of his professionalism and his ability to provide clients yet another tool to help them realize their dream homes.
He’s expanded his own idea base through networking with other professionals on Houzz. “I have exchanged ideas or products from one firm to another a couple times,” he says. He’s done this with local and national professionals.
Houzz has become a content generator for Johns, linking tips, trends and photos to his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Proven benefits: In the last year, Johns attributes roughly six leads from the Houzz site. He has had success with using the site in sales meetings on his iPad and believes his own bookmarking of Ideabooks helps clients visualize the possibilities during that crucial first phase. “Most people have a hard time visualizing what they want and what can be done—I need a vast array of photos to help them do this,” Johns says.
Johns hooked up with two local media outlets through Houzz, exchanging content and photos, even providing two expert blog posts for statewide interior design and home décor magazine.
Mike Dolan, Marketing and Communications Manager, Pine Street Carpenters Inc., West Chester, Pa.
Company on Houzz since January 2012
Goals: “We primarily use Houzz to showcase our portfolio, though we also find it extremely helpful when a customer is engaged with Houzz and can share their Ideabooks with us. We are also active in the Houzz community and readily field questions about our projects from Houzz users,” Dolan says.
Opportunities: Dolan sees Houzz as a great marketing opportunity for increasing Web presence and the branding of his company. He believes the site has helped clients qualify them as a reputable contractor, especially if they were using Houzz on their own. “When clients discover we are on Houzz, it helps solidify who we are and what we are about,” he says.
Proven benefits: Dolan has seen a slight increase in Web traffic due to Houzz. “Aside from Google and Facebook, Houzz is our third highest link referrer,” he says.
Is your company on Houzz? Tell us about the benefits Houzz has brought to your company by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.