Internet penetration, particularly among those in a full-service remodeler's target market, is often more than 90%. “If you don't have a Web site, you're at a competitive disadvantage,” says David Alpert, president of Continuum Marketing Group. A Web site can help establish company brand, preference for your company, and can reduce the number of unqualified leads.

You can buy the following services a la carte and do it yourself, but because high technology, marketing, strategy, writing, photography, and design all come together in a Web site, you need expertise in all those skills to produce a good site. “Having a bad Web site can be worse than having no Web site,” says Alpert, who has worked on remodeling company Web sites for seven years.

Domain name. Make it memorable and relevant to your company. Alpert suggests using Network Solutions to register the name. They charge slightly more than other companies — $35 annually —but “if something goes wrong, there's always someone to talk to,” Alpert says.

Hosting services. The host provides space on a Web server where your site files reside. First find out, usually on the company's Web site, if it has a high level of up time, meaning that their servers don't go down.

The site. Hire a reputable marketing firm — not necessarily a local one — that knows the remodeling industry to create your site. You want something personalized, which ties your Web site into your current marketing strategy.

Prepare to invest. If you're just starting out and have few finished projects, set aside about $3,000 for Web site creation and services. For those in the $1 million to $3 million volume range, look to invest $10,000 to $20,000 with a marketing firm that will do an assessment and develop a strategy and a comprehensive Web site with lots of pictures.

Remember, says Alpert, “ a Web site is a support tool — it's not going to increase the number of projects that you can manage or your production or sales staff — it has to be attuned to your marketing program and to the size of your company.”