| Dec 23, 2014 |
How social platform Houzz can boost an interiors business
Boh staff
By Staff

Sometimes it seems designers are inundated with online tools for their businesses, from e-commerce sites to designer trade programs to social media platforms. With this glut of design-based web platforms, it's difficult for one to stand out. Houzz, however, has managed with its ability to not only connect designers and consumers, but also by providing resources such as the new “Reputation Management Guidebook” for interior designers.

The guidebook’s aim is to provide designers and professionals with best practices and easy action items for building their business credibility both on and off the Houzz platform.

According to Houzz, design professionals should have two key goals when it comes to managing their company’s reputation:

First and foremost, build credibility. This grows business and, perhaps more importantly, brings in the right types of clients.

Secondly, professionals should immediately address client negativity that inevitably comes along in the lifetime of a business. Tips for doing so can be found in the guidebook.

Other tips from Houzz's guide book: get professional photos taken and actively request reviews. The guide also offers tips on how to collaborate with clients, respond to both positive and negative reviews, participate in the ‘Best of Houzz’ awards, optimize web presence and differentiate a Houzz profile from competitors by building a following and displaying affiliations and badges.

“I probably receive one to two questions by email from Houzz users each week,” said interior designer Drew McGukin, who has a “basic” Houzz designer profile. “I make every effort to answer all questions genuinely. Users are super appreciative and almost always thank me. At least every couple of months, I get a call and/or email from someone who found me on Houzz that is looking for a designer. I'd say about a third or fewer of those calls actually flip into real business, but with that third—[using Houzz] is kind of a no brainer.” His last project that came from Houzz had a healthy $400K budget.

McGukin uses Houzz as a problem-solving tool. “When I'm really stuck on a detail—like a staircase, or a millwork issue—I'll often use key words to search Houzz images for anything similar. That will hopefully serve as a light bulb, or direct me down a path that eventually resolves my issue.”

Interior designer Jamie Herzlinger says Houzz has been great for her businesses, jamieshop.com and jh-online.com. For her, the platform is not about “getting” clients, but more for marketing and advertising. “It's the cumulative effect.”

“The interesting thing,” she says, “ is that there is no one demographic for their market, so for a company like mine that has other avenues to sell from, it’s beyond fantastic.”

Several clients of design firm Foley & Cox have brought ‘design inspiration’ boards created on Houzz. According to partner Michael Cox, the firm has experienced an increase in client awareness and have received two significant job inquiries from potential clients in the past month alone.

Interior designer Anthony Baratta said he's “always thrilled to post new projects on Houzz. I find it to be a fabulous resource for clients and the deign community looking for inspiration and exciting new design ideas. I know that good, strong exposure to their incredible audience can’t hurt!”

The new Reputation Management Guidebook can be downloaded for free, here, and provides more information on each of the tips listed above.

Since it was founded as a side project in 2009 to help its founders with their home remodel, Houzz has grown organically to over 25 million monthly unique users around the world—90 percent of whom are homeowners—as well as more than 500,000 home professionals, including architects, designers, contractors and more.

Want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter, which recaps the week’s stories, and get in-depth industry news and analysis each quarter by subscribing to our print magazine. Join BOH Insider for discounts, workshops and access to special events such as the Future of Home conference.