Jill Gile works as an Architectural Specifications Representative with the Commencement Bay Architectural Group NW who just launched their new website. She writes about technology and the door and hardware industry.
Importance of Technology
Door hardware is an “old-school” business. There have been a few technological advances over the years, and electrified hardware is a big leap forward, but the industry as a whole is pretty low tech. Sales reps still rely on face-to-face contact with their clients. Buying hardware for an entire project is still done with purchase orders and paperwork.
As a result, the hardware business is a little behind the curve on the internet, especially social networking. Some reps are on LinkedIn (but many of them aren’t actually linking up with anyone). A few sales agencies have websites, but they aren’t much more than a home page with a logo. Many manufacturers websites aren’t much better.
As a newcomer to the business, I was surprised at first. When trying to connect with new colleagues or clients, I often hit a wall on the internet – the names were out there, but there was no way to connect. Websites would have an “under construction” logo that was clearly from 1995. LinkedIn requests would go unanswered. Researching information would lead to rabbit holes returning to the same website with a PDF that wouldn’t download.
I feel very lucky that Commencement Bay Architectural Group, the sales agency I work for, has wholeheartedly embraced the digital age. Shortly after I started, we designed a brand new website and I was put in charge of blogging. My boss is on, and very involved in, LinkedIn. We have Twitter, Facebook and Google+ pages.
Since I’ve started, we’ve been contacted by multiple manufacturers looking for representation, who found us on LinkedIn. Architects are able to get on our website and check out the Continuing Education programs we offer. Someone idly searching for more information can stumble across our blog. With just these tiny tweaks and minimal effort, our website made it to page 2 on Google in about a month, and the only explanation our website design team could give us was we were the only ones out there with not much competition.
Connecting with customers face-to-face is still a critical part of the business – one I would never undersell. But technology can be another aspect of that personal interaction. When people complain that the younger generations are glued to their phones, what they don’t see is that you can use that to your advantage. When I call a client, and they are able to Google my name and see that I am who I say I am, that I have a professional LinkedIn account and run a blog dedicated to door hardware, that gives them the confidence to invite me into their office.
Architectural specification writing is a major service that we want clients to use. Telling people we have these services available face-to-face is a big part of my job. But if we didn’t have a website presence, we would potentially be missing out on helping many, many architects who are frantically Googling “087100 specification writing” and drawing a blank. The same can be said for manufacturers search for representation and distributors looking for sales reps.
The internet is a tool that we can use to connect with people, grow our businesses, and help our clients. Isn’t it time to embrace the change?
If you are looking for information on Division 087100 specifications, doors, or architectural hardware please contact Jill Gile at 360-907-1619 and [email protected]