It is no longer 2001. Today, a professional website design is essential to most businesses. Though I am starting to see a trend of small businesses investing more into their website, some are still taking the cheap web design route, and it’s costing them an enormous amount of money. Here’s why.
Let’s pretend you own a hair salon. In our area, it is a very popular type of business. There are over 200 salons in our tiny home state of RI, most of which are a reasonable driving distance for anyone living here. So most of them are direct competitors. Yet of the 50 I checked (using Yelp as a directory), over 80% went with what is in my personal opinion a cheap web design, and about 5% have online appointment booking. That means 80%-95% of salons in RI are throwing money away when they thought they were saving money with a cheap web design. While I use a salon example here, these points can be applied to many types of service businesses. First impressions mean everything in business. Here are some of the biggest risks to that first impression that are included free with a cheap web design:
Someone mentions your salon to their friend. The first thing they do is look you up on the web. They notice your outdated cheap web design that a friend you know did over the weekend. First impression? Your salon is small and cheap. Maybe you use cheap equipment and products too. If your website is outdated, what if your style recommendations are outdated too? Of course they aren’t – but that’s what your website is telling everyone. On the flip side, a modern design communicates that you are up on the latest trends, care deeply about your business, and most importantly: want new clients.
Not enough information on the website.
What does the potential client want to see next? Your “portfolio” of work, of course! But your cheap web design only shows a few stock images and no photos of your work on real clients. The client immediately thinks that you are a new business with very few clients, or worse: thinks you are trying to pull a fast one by using “fake” stock images of professionally styled women. On the other hand, showing off real examples of your work tells potential clients that you are proud of your work, demonstrates that you have clients who trust you, and shows them what they can expect. In a nutshell, you establish trust.
No online appointment booking.
Everyone loves shopping online. So naturally, many people also enjoy the ability to book appointments online. But you won’t get this functionality with a cheap web design. When you require clients to call, you introduce friction to the client and unnecessary cost to you. For instance, if the client is at work and cannot use the phone, they may forget to call later or procrastinate for a few days. Over the course of a year, this means fewer appointments from the client, and lost revenue for you. Worse, every call to your salon must be answered. That means you must pay to hire a receptionist (a part-timer will run about $10,000-$15,000/yr) or stylists must stop their work to take calls, resulting in longer appointment times, longer wait times, a compromise in quality from having to start/stop, and lost revenue (longer wait = fewer appointments). With a cheap web design, you can forget about features like this. But with a professional, implementing online appointment booking is simple, very affordable, customer-friendly, and one of the easiest return on investment decisions you will ever make. When your clients can book an appointment while sitting in bed at 11pm, you both win.
No automation features.
Going with a cheap web design means no automation. Customers must make appointments manually at their discretion, and when they forget or procrastinate – you lose. In any business where customers make regular appointments, automation via your website back-end can literally pay for itself. By automatically reminding your clients to make an appointment at set intervals via e-mail, and allowing them to do so via a link in the message, you are providing a great convenience to your customer and making a “sale” with nearly no effort! There are so many businesses where this level of automation can provide a tremendous benefit: dentists, eye doctors, salons, car mechanics (oil changes), HVAC (boiler/AC cleanings), and many more. Adding automation to your website’s back-end is affordable and pays for itself in most cases very quickly. It impresses customers and gives them another reason to recommend you.
A cheap web design is a costly investment.
Everybody wants to save money when it comes to business expenses. But it is important to recognize the difference between initial cost and total cost. While a cheap web design is more affordable up front, the revenue it will cost you over just one year’s time can be devastating. When you consider how much time a great web site will save you, in addition to its selling capabilities, its no wonder that the top hair salons in the country like Metropolis, Parisk Parker, Marc Harris, and Belle Epoque all have great, functional web sites with online appointment booking. Check them out, then check us out and let’s talk about creating the perfect website for your business.
Greg Brailsford is the owner of Company 50 with 35 years of life experience. Company 50 provides logo design, web design, and digital marketing services to small businesses.