AT Web Results (Tim Wickstrom) Interviewed for Register Star Article
By Thomas V. Bona - BusinessRockford.com
For Deanna Wiersma, dinner is often a click away.
A couple of times a month, the Belvidere resident uses the Web to order
meals from Menu Makers (MenuMakersInc.com) in Loves Park. She picks
them up, then takes them home to heat and eat.
"Her Web site is
awesome because you can go on there, pick out what you want, pay ahead
of time," Wiersma said. "People are busy. If you have a large family
and you work a lot, you don't have time."
Luke Lefevre of Rockford uses the Web to read restaurant menus to help him decide where to go to eat.
"I work on a computer all day, so if I'm looking for a phone number,
it's easier for me to hit the browser and do a Google search instead of
reaching for a phone book," he said. "When I look at a Web site, most
of the information they want me to have is on there. It's kind of like
the new phone book."
Local retailers and service providers are
increasingly going to the Web to promote their wares. They're finding
it's often a cheaper way to reach more eyes, particularly in the
coveted 18-to-35 age demographic. Besides, they say, it seems everybody
else is doing it.
"It adds credibility to your company to have
a Web site. If someone doesn't know you, they find you through a link,"
said Brent Meade, president of Gruno's Diamonds (Grunos.com) in
Rockford, which takes orders from around the country. "If your Web site
is half working and half not, does that make them think maybe your
business is like that?"
Megan Wadleigh, owner of 5 Spa in
Rockford, has had her site (5Spa.com) for four years. She gets frequent
visitors through the corporate Web site of Aveda, the Minnesota company
whose products 5Spa sells. During the Christmas rush, when husbands try
to pick out gifts for their wives, Wadleigh directs them to her Web
site to get the information they need.
She also uses the Web to pick restaurants, spas and other service providers when she's traveling to other states.
"I knew what services I wanted, I just didn't know what they looked
like or if it was in my price range," she said. "You don't really want
to always call people if you're trying to make a decision between one
or more places."
Wadleigh would like to offer online reservations and purchasing of gift certificates.
Rockford-area residents also can use the Web to look at car dealer
inventories or schedule dry cleaning. Even to set up boarding or
grooming at the Airport Pet Lodge (AirportPetLodge.com) in Rockford.
"Every day, more and more business owners are realizing that a Web
presence is 100 percent necessary in today's marketplace," said Tim
Wickstrom, president of Web-design firm AT Web Results
(ATWebResults.com) in Rockford, which has been in business for three
years and has more than 50 clients.
"In the beginning, like any new business owner, I was worried where the
next project was going to come from," he said. "It was like pulling
teeth getting clients. Now it's like I have to be selective."
Professionally created sites can start at $1,000, but the price can
quickly go up, depending on features and the complexity of the site.
That's why it's important for business people to think seriously about
what they want a Web site to do for them, said Chris Kelley, director
of internet development for KMK Media Group (KMK
Rockford. But even a simple site that helps people get information
quickly and easily – be it on their computer or cell phone – can help a
business, he said.
Some local business owners say they've not
seen a big uptick in business from their Web sites but think they might
in the future.
Anne Rasakit, general manager of Thai Basil
(ThaiBasilOnline.com) in Belvidere, hopes the site will help drum up
business when a new location opens in Machesney Park next month. Her
site offers a menu form that customers can print out and fax.
Ann Murphy, co-owner of Fringe Salon in Rockford (Fringe-Salon.com) has
learned one of the big lessons of having a Web site: It's key to get
your name high in the search engine results. A Google search of Fringe
Salon calls up ones in New York and Chicago well before the Rockford
But Murphy said it has drawn some local customers who might not otherwise drive past and see her store.
On the other hand, Rockford restaurant Josef-Barbados
(JosefBarbados.com) finds that the Web site helps bring in customers
from as far away as Chicago and Madison, Wis.
"They call when
they're making reservations and will ask questions that will come from
stuff they've seen on the Web site," manager Valerie Olafson said.
"It's another form of advertising. ... The Web site should be a
reflection of the business."Staff writer Thomas V. Bona may be contacted at 815-987-1343 or firstname.lastname@example.org.