Q: Can you tell us a little about Charter Bay Homes as a business?
Eric has been in the homebuilding business for more than 20 years. He was the Chief Operating Officer for a luxury home builder in 2007 when the housing market crashed. Like many around the country, the home builder he worked for went under because of the recession.
After taking a year off, we decided to start our own home building business in 2009. It was a tough couple of years, but we survived. Thankfully the housing market has recovered. We are very selective about the projects we choose. Our focus is on high-end custom building and remodeling projects.
Q: Charter Bay Homes is an incredibly well put together local business site. Can you give us some insight into the overall site planning process?
Well, we wanted our site to look different than other home builder sites. All of them tend to look quite similar. We wanted to get away from the busy, overcrowded look typical of builder websites and try to go with a clean elegant look. We decided to use minimal color and lots of white space.
We also wanted to add just a dash of a nautical vibe because we are located near Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It was important for us to have that high-end “yacht club” feel without going over the top. We also wanted to make sure that our content was organized and easy to read and that potential clients could find what they were looking for when they visited our site.
￼It was also crucial that we had a blog to provide people with good information on the lengthy, complicated process of building a custom home. (We’ve been so busy this year that we’ve not had the time to keep up on it the way we intended to. One of our goals for 2016 is to get our blog going again.)
Q: What’s the biggest mistake you think websites in the building niche make?
Unorganized information. Information overload. Too busy. No focus.
If there’s too much going on, the visitor doesn’t know where to look first. They all tend to look the same. I also run into a surprising amount of sites which have dead links or broken images.
Q: Green building is very much an idea whose time has come and it’s prominently mentioned on your site. Can you explain a bit about the concept for our readers?
Green building is a design concept which focuses on the efficient use of resources such as water, energy, and building materials while reducing impacts on health and the environment. This is accomplished through improved design, careful product selection, advanced construction methods, and proper placement within the construction site.
Q: There’s a lot of great info on the blog section of your site covering everything from contracts to case studies. How important is the blog as part of your overall online marketing mix?
As I mentioned previously, we felt having a blog was extremely important. The first site we built was a static HTML site with a link to a WordPress blog. We got zero traffic from that site. Once we switched our entire site over to WordPress (early 2014) and started posting regularly, the phone calls started to increase.
In fact we got so busy, we stopped having time to blog! We would like to get the blog going again because we understand the importance of it – both in terms of providing good information to our readers and in terms of traffic. Unfortunately, writing a quality post with quality photos takes a lot of time and, as a small company, that’s something we don’t have a lot of.
Q: The last decade has obviously had its ups and downs for the construction and real estate industries in America and elsewhere. How do you see the outlook heading into 2016?
Every indicator points to a strong 2016. If you drive through neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay area, there is construction going on everywhere. We are very optimistic about a strong 2016 and are hopeful things will continue beyond that.
Q: How do you make sure Charter Bay Homes stands out in the context of what must be an incredibly competitive landscape in Florida?
Our main thing is that we are small by design. We don’t take on too many projects at once and we are very selective about the projects we do. It sounds like a cliché, but we believe we provide the best customer service out there.
We take pride in providing dedicated, one-on-one support to our clients. We know that we can only do that if we keep things small. The larger a company becomes, the more removed the original members get from their customers and that’s when service starts to fail.
We have a superintendent running our job sites, but Eric is very involved with our clients and is in communication with them every day during the entire process. Whether they text him late at night or early in the morning with questions, he always answers them. If we took on more clients, he wouldn’t be able to provide that kind of service. We are small by design and we intend to stay that way.
Q: What’s the most unusual/interesting custom build or renovation project Charter Bay Homes has been involved with to date?
We just finished an extensive remodeling job on house built in 1920. It took more than a year, but we turned a house built before the Great Depression into an uber-modern, 21st century luxury home.