Web site can make it easier to find the right architect, designer — and much more
By Anya Sebastian for The New Mexican April 2006
So, you finally found the perfect piece of land on which to build your dream home. Now what do you do? You need an architect, a builder, a designer. You could start by going through the phone book, but that just gives you a list of names. How do you narrow down the choices to find the firm or person who's right for you, your project and your budget?
What if you want to redo your kitchen get some new upholstery, landscape your yard, find an antique desk or a particular kind of sofa? Again, you could start with a walk through the phone book — but you'd still have to jump in your car to see who might have exactly what you are looking for.
As an interior designer, Robin Dorrell had been through both these scenarios with clients many times. That's why she developed (a website) to make life easier for herself and her colleagues, her clients and the community at large....
"It made sense," says Dorrell. "(Suppliers and Artisans) wanted to make themselves known to the building professionals in our network, who need their services anyway. But then we thought, why stop there? It's not just designers who are looking for carpeting or lighting or kitchen cabinets."
So Dorrell, together with her husband and business partner, Dan Clavio, decided to set up a directory of New Mexico suppliers who provide goods and services for the home. It would feature lots of pictures so that people could see what each business had to offer.
And that's how ComeOnHome.biz was born, which Dorrell says is the first and only visual directory with "everything for the home."
Less than two years old, the Web site hosts more than 100 active participants — and the number is growing all the time. It's a one-stop resource, not only for interior designers and architects, but also for anyone looking to furnish, remodel or enhance a home.
Since Dorrell and Clavio are both very ecologically minded, ComeOnHome.biz makes a point of identifying socially conscious businesses with a green maple leaf symbol.
"We've been teaching sustainability and green-building classes at the Santa Fe Community College for a number of years," Clavio says, "and it's something we like to support."
The directory also highlights products and objects made in New Mexico with a red Zia symbol.
"It's just another way of giving people information," Dorrell explains. "If they're really interested, they can click on an image to find out more about that particular supplier."
Like one-stop shopping
La Puerta, a Santa Fe company specializing in high-quality antique doors, received over 80 visits the first month after joining the ComeOnHome.biz directory.
"That's a lot of traffic for a new company on the web," owner Melissa Coleman says, "so we were very pleased. I think it's a great idea for finding resources — especially for people new to the area who have no idea what's available."
Ken Groggle of the Designers' Marketplace in Albuquerque agrees.
"We have a number of new designers who found us through the website," he says. "Some have come from out-of-state to do a job and want to use local suppliers and local craftsmen, so they really appreciate this online directory. We're a trade showroom and can't sell direct to the public, so I think it's great that people can see what we have and know what products are out there."
Finn Selander of Santa Fe found ComeOnHome.biz through an ad in a glossy magazine. "It made me curious, curious enough to want to check it out," he says, "and I'm sure glad I did."
Selander was impressed by the way the directory was set up and by the range of products and services available on the site. "It's like one-stop shopping," he says. "And, since I'm a firm believer in keeping your money in your own hometown, as it were, I was delighted to find that it's all New Mexican, as well. I now have the website bookmarked on my computer screen. When I'm looking for something, that's where I go first."
ComeOnHome.biz is also attracting the attention of out-of-town visitors. Gary Coles Christensen, manager of Packards West in downtown Santa Fe confirms that at least three new clients found his store through the online directory.
"Two were from out of state," he says, "and one was a local resident. All of them made sizable purchases, which paid for our listing many times over."
The cost of a listing in the ComeOnHome.biz directory is $100 a month. "All businesses are treated equally," Dorrell says, "and all get the same amount of space. It's what I call clustering' — or getting businesses to come together to support the kind of exposure and marketing most of them could never afford to do on their own."
Dorrell and Clavio would like ComeOnHome.biz to become a "portal site" for the fields of building, decorating, landscaping and design. "We want to eventually post articles, put up things of interest and provide more in-depth information on topics like water harvesting," Clavio says. "We're also in the process of forming alliances with other professional trade organizations and publications in the field. The more we can work together, the better it is for everyone."
Looking even further down the road, expanding the business may well mean starting similar enterprises in other states. "I can absolutely see ComeOnHome Arizona or ComeOnHome Colorado," Clavio says. "It's an idea that works in any community."
Both Dorrell and Clavio are excited about the way ComeOnHome.biz has taken off. "When we started out less than two years ago, we were getting about 10,000 hits a month," Dorrell says. "Now we average about 250,000 per month.
"We wanted (the site) to be a marketing tool for suppliers of quality goods and services, a shopping tool for consumers and a specification tool for the industry," she says, "and that's exactly how it seems to be working out. "
ComeOnHome.biz provides an effective and easy way for consumers and industry specifiers to find the products and services they need in the home building, home improvement and related fields within a given region or state.
ComeOnHome.biz provides an affordable and effective way for businesses in the home building, landscaping, decorating and related fields to market themselves to consumers, clients and industry specifiers.
ComeOnHome.biz believes in -- and encourages and facilitates industry collaboration and cooperation, which benefits industry professionals and consumers.
ComeOnHome.biz supports -- and endeavors to serve -- consumers, businesses and communities.