Advice from a Tech-Savvy Homebuilder: 10 Ways to Improve Integrator Websites

Improved photo galleries, adding sound or voiceover to all your videos, creating interactive tools for customers and allowing clients to ‘personalize’ a project or image are just some tips to transform your boring website.


Most custom integrators are stuck in old school sales and marketing techniques, according to Tim Costello, president/CEO of BDX, a consortium of the largest homebuilders in North America. Speaking at the Azione Unlimited Spring Soiree conference this week, he outlined 10 changes dealers can make to their website and in their showrooms to attract Millennial buyers.

To prove his point, he showed examples of how forward-thinking companies in the retail and clothing spaces have been able to create paradigm shifts in their industries with digital solutions. Costello pointed to Martec’s Law that shows how industries are all disrupted by sea changes in technology. “You cannot let someone else come in and kill your business with a disruptive technology. You need to be the one who is thinking about ways to kill your own business with disruption,” he says.

That disruption, he says, needs to be via digital sales techniques. “Integrators are limited in what they can sell because right now they only make sales by humans. You need to think digitally,” he advises.

That means dealers need to start making sales via their websites. To do that, Costello believes CE pros need to:

Map your customer journey/touchpoints – Costello believes integrators must first know all the various touchpoints where you potentially connect with customers, whether that is your website, emails, in-person demos, etc. Once you know all those touchpoints, you can examine each one for ways to make them more exciting. “You need to bring ‘shock and awe’ to your sales experience,” he notes.

Add one piece of interactive content to your website – “No one wants to read text on your website,” he says. Interactive content can be as simple as a quiz, or a sample touchscreen interface.

Be proud of your photo gallery – “Don’t put crummy photos of your projects on your website. Make them look really nice,” he says.

Enable personalization/customization on your website – This could be a tool that lets customers build a room by placing speakers and TVs on the floorplan. “Then let them email that floorplan to their friends. Once a customer starts customizing and personalizing anything, it is hard for them to leave,” he says.

Provide one tool to help clients visualize “their home” on your website – He speculated that dealers ask consumers to take a “before” photo of their room and upload it on to your website, then have tools to let them change colors, add amenities, etc.

Experiment with Virtual Reality – Taking that interactive experience to a greater level, Costello recommends dealers create a tool for the Oculus Rift that will allow a customer to virtually walk through their new smart home. “The technology exists today and it is not that expensive,” he said, noting that homebuilders are doing this.

Add text and voiceover to your online videos – “I see way too many silent videos on your websites,” he says bluntly.

Give shoppers control – By this, he means setting up some way for digital transactions to occur via your website. “Don’t let your business stagnate because every sale has to be made by one guy,” he notes.

Post 3D scans of your design centers and projects – Just as it sounds, it is simple to rent a 3D camera and just walk through your jobs and post those videos on your website.

Make kiosks and iPads standard sales tools – “You have to use technology to grow beyond being a one-man enterprise,” he says.  

About the Author

Jason Knott
Jason Knott:

Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald's Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.