By John Voket
RISMEDIA, Sept. 26, 2008-New York natives George and Suzie Crudo of Weichert Realtors Hallmark Properties in Longwood, Florida, have a cooperative working relationship-she handles face-to-face business and he takes care of their “virtual storefront.”
The couple agrees that division of duties-which gives George plenty of time to tinker on their company website-is a big part of the reason why the Weichert team captured their second Advanced Access “Most Impressive” Website Award.
“It’s amazing-George & Suzie Crudo once again won by a landslide,” says Anna Bourland, assistant director of market analysis for Advanced Access, an industry leader in website development, hosting, e-mail and Internet marketing for real estate professionals.
According to Bourland, the couple’s successful combination of appealing design, easy navigation, useful content, neighborhood tours and custom property pages makes their website a great champion for the Most Impressive Real Estate Website Award.
For the past six years, Advanced Access has invited customers to nominate and vote on websites that are designed and hosted by the company. Nominations were accepted for four unique fields of recognition, including Best Use of an Advanced Access Feature; Most Impressive Content; Rookie of the Year; and the Most Impressive Advanced Access Website.
Besides winning company-wide recognition and an Advanced Access icon to place on their website in acknowledgment of the award, the Crudos won a year of free hosting.
Having no prior real estate website knowledge before they began building and refining their Advanced Access site, George and Suzie continue to give major kudos to the company for providing easy-to-use tools and a platform that helps them personalize their website and keep it user friendly.
In fact, since winning the award last year, George has completely overhauled the site again, putting in a couple of hours a day tweaking and improving images, text and other features.
“We’ve improved the overall aesthetic appeal and added improved navigation and search features,” he says. “We’re doing more with the site to showcase our listings. We always had good positive feedback, but the Internet is always changing and getting better. So, you have to keep improving to stay on top of things.”
Over the past year, George says he shortened the home page so visitors would have just a short scroll to get most of the vital information, and he put the most important information, “above the fold to grab attention.”
He also improved the photography.
“Take a look at the image of Orlando,” he says, referring to the gleaming skyline at the top of their home page. “I wanted it to pop out a bit more than it used to and I think we accomplished that. Most of the header pictures are my own. I also take all the shots of our listings.”
He’s also minimized some of the text.
“Now I try to keep information short, not too wordy,” he says. “I use a lot of keywords. I find people don’t want that much information upfront. I also make it easier to find key information by separating paragraphs and content areas on the same page with sub headers, which helps lead viewers to the specific information they want.”
After using the company’s site building tools, George says he knows the Advanced Access system pretty well and has, “streamlined all the features I use.”
Suzie believes a lot of people miss one basic concept when it comes to developing a website for a small business like theirs.
“This is their storefront. When I had my stores, I would clean the windows and displays and stock the shelves,” she says. “This is also a lead generation source, where business funnels through. This is a window into our business and allows visitors to meet us because we don’t have an actual storefront. The site gives us the chance to sell ourselves further.
“People tell us they spend so much time on the site, and they keep coming back,” she continues, “so we know it is playing a huge role in helping us build our relationships. Imagine, being able to be on the phone for an hour a day with each client you have? That would be impossible, but with this site, it allows us to spend hours each day with our clients.”
The couple also added links that invite customers to see streaming videos, which Suzie says further enhance the kind of personal relationship she and George want to build with each site visitor.
George says after two years designing and refining the website, he is convinced that Advanced Access has helped the couple’s real estate business succeed, despite a shaky start.
“I’m embarrassed at what the site looked like when we got started,” he says. “My background in electronics and computers had nothing to do with website design. I’ve learned myself, so I can tell anyone that if you make the time and stay motivated-you can do it, too.”
Suzie agrees that putting the time in makes all the difference.
“It’s as much a part of doing business as making cold calls, open houses or other aspects of the business,” she says. “These sites are extremely easy to launch-our site shows you what can be done with basic tools and software. It really can be done…it can really take off and look like a site you just spent thousands on.”
For more information, please visit www.advancedaccess.com.