There are web sites, online ads, forums, and social media platforms. But you’d be hard-pressed to find one that’s as effective at driving the right customers to the right professional as Houzz. Launched in 2009, Houzz is now the leading platform for home remodeling and design, connecting more than 20 million unique monthly users with 400,000 active pros.
INSPIRATION FROM FRUSTRATION
“Houzz is an idea that was truly born from frustration,” explains Liza Hausman, VP of Community for Houzz. “When our founders moved five years ago, they thought renovating an old home would be ‘fun.’ That fun quickly turned to frustration when they realized there was no easy way to find reputable architects, contractors, and the various other pros needed to handle all the tasks associated with the project.”
So, they built Houzz to help them through the remodel. They soon realized they weren’t the only ones feeling frustrated about the remodeling process and opened the site to homeowners from their kids’ school and local professionals. The idea quickly evolved and grew to cover a bigger and bigger geographic area, all the time focused on serving both the consumer and the pro. Before too long, a business was born.
WHERE HOMEOWNERS AND CONTRACTORS CONNECT
As Hausman explains it, “There are lots of web sites and forums out there that are aimed specifically at consumers or specifically at pros, but Houzz is the only site that brings them together to share ideas, discuss approaches, and connect for work on actual projects.”
One of the most appealing aspects of Houzz for the consumer is the amount of imagery and ideas available at their fingertips.
“We have over three million magazine-quality images on the site,” says Hausman, “and they’re all from the portfolios of pros on the site. The images link back to the source so a consumer looking at, say, a bath design, can click on an image and find out who designed it or who the contractor was, or even what specific paint is on the walls. It’s far more useful than a page torn from a magazine.”
Similarly, Houzz features content from pros. “Pros can submit articles, comment on any image, suggest alternative approaches, and even respond to reader questions on the site,” adds Hausman. “If a homeowner posts a comment about a design challenge or concern about what paint to use, a pro can respond with suggestions. It’s a great way to establish credibility and build a connection with a potential customer who has demonstrated need and interest in starting a project.”
A particularly popular feature with pros and property owners alike are ideabooks. “Ideabooks are the modern version of a manila folder filled with pages torn from magazines for a project,” says Hausman. A consumer can click through images of everything from floor layouts, finishes, furnishings, lighting, appliances, etc. and compile them in any number of ideabooks that they can then share with potential contractors or pros they are already working with. The contractor can flip through the ideabook to better understand the customer’s taste and vision, and can use it to offer suggestions and communicate other ideas.
“It’s an incredibly efficient way to get pros and property owners on the same page before a project has even been bid,” notes Hausman. “And if you can’t get on the same page, you can find another pro pretty quickly.”
BUILD A PROFILE, BUILD YOUR BUSINESS
The key to a pro’s success with Houzz is the creation of a profile.
Essentially an electronic resume and portfolio, profiles are built around a basic template that is free to create and maintain.
Profiles offer an in-depth view of who you are, the nature of your work, and where you operate. You can also include awards and recognition, reviews, photos of your work (which serve as proof of your talents and capabilities), contact information, and even a link to your company web site.
And, if you don’t have a web site, you can build one using Houzz Site Designer, a web site design and publishing tool that offers a choice of templates that will draw from the information already entered in your profile. Any changes you make to your profile in the future will automatically be made on your web site, and they’re optimized for mobile viewing. Plus, like profiles, Houzz web sites are free.