Website Critique: Sonoma Valley Pool and Spa

screen shot of Sonoma Valley Pool & Spa

When Sonoma Valley Pool & Spa re-vamped its website, which went live in early 2010, Jolie Rozema, who co-owns the business with her husband, Saul Rozema, says, "I wanted to market upscale luxury pool and spa service because we're in Sonoma, California, in the wine country, and that appeals to people here. It was a challenge because I wanted to get the luxuriousness across while still seeming affordable."

The html-based site was reasonably priced, says Ms. Rozema. "A new site can cost upwards of $5,000 or more, but we paid a fraction of that."

Even if the investment is substantial within the scope of your marketing budget, Ms. Rozema believes it's absolutely worth it. "When I looked at how much we were spending on phone book ads, I started polling our clients, asking, 'Where did you find us?' I found most people are looking on the Web. They're not even opening the phone book anymore."

Sonoma Valley's website serves as a brochure where prospective clients can find out more about the services it offers, but it also has some features that make administrating the business easier. For instance, the site has a Payment link clients can click on, and they're then taken to company's Quickbooks online payment site. "About 35 percent of our client base pays online, so it was just a natural fit to have this link on the site. I love that. I send them their bill, it gets paid, and then we get a notification that we've got money, and two days later, it's in our bank account."

There's also a "Request Service" button on Sonoma Valley's site, and when a request is submitted, it's automatically text messaged and emailed to everyone who needs to know about it. Because this expedites the communication process, clients end up getting their problems solved faster.

Yet another feature for the site, which is in the works but not yet live, is an online customer portal where customers can view a digital service tag. "This will eliminate paper service tags, which are an added office expense and can take a bit of time to write out," says Ms. Rozema. "Oftentimes, people don't even look at them, and then call us saying, 'My pool is really cloudy.' With the online portal, we can send them an email notification, indicating when the service tech was there and what he did, and that if the water is cloudy right after the service, it's because the tech shocked the pool with cal hypo. This will be a really great feature."

In addition to the site, which includes a video of Mr. Rozema introducing himself and explaining the services he offers, Sonoma Valley has banner ads in the online version of its local newspaper. "Interestingly enough, a lot of referrals come from these online ads. The ads link to our site, we run them from May through August and it's only about $2,000 for six months of ads."


PRESENTATION: The first thing that should catch your visitor's eye on the home page is something that shows what you do. A photo of an individual or team servicing a pool would let your visitors know what you do.

CALLS TO ACTION: The most important call to action, your telephone number, is buried at the bottom of the page. The other call to action, "Request Service," gets lost below the video. In fact, it looks as if it is part of the video.

MESSAGING: When you are a service provider, people want a clear presentation of what services you provide. To get to that key information, I had to go from the home page to the "services" page and then to a PDF. That's way too much work on the web.

BEST PART: The "Tech Tips." Here you provide information that is truly useful to your visitors. This kind of information sends the message that you know what you are doing.

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