A custom Anigre cabinetry project in a San Francisco area kitchen built by Bill Fry Construction helped the company win online awards at social media sites. Not only because the project was well done. But because it was well photographed and promoted at sites online where customers browse.

Like Fry, hundreds of custom woodworking businesses serving residential markets are making strategic use of  social media, public relations, and marketing moxie, to rack up "Best Rated" kudos at Houzz, Yelp, Angie's List, Kudzu, and other sites. 

While Bill Fry is principally a general contractor, he operates what he calls an "artisanal cabinetry shop," which distinguishes his firm from other remodeler contractors.

"Our own custom cabinetry shop evolved from a desire by one of our employee’s to return to his roots in cabinetmaking," Fry says. The Anigre cabinets feature vertical grain veneer matched from the crown moulding to the cabinet base, something he explains at his Houzz.com landing page.

Fry uses the high level execution of this project, along with 39 others, to position his firm in his local market, posting 33 photos of it, among a total 759 pictures at his the Houzz.com page. Fry also has a blog and YouTube channel, allowing him to carry on personal marketing communications directly with prospective customers, getting to a level of detail that might otherwise only happen in a face-to-face presentation

"A challenge for this project was to maximize usable space while retaining the original footprint," he explains in the Anigre project slide show show. In a YouTube video (see it below), Fry records before and after construction scenes, detailing how a granite countertop was reinforced, and the finishing steps on the cabinets. Fry even highlights hardware touches: a foot pedal to open the garbage cabinet, a pullout spice shelf, a Hafele magic corner and Blum Blumotion hinges and slides.

These efforts helped Bill Fry Construction win Best of Houzz awards both in 2012 and 2013.

Custom Woodworking Business
will launch a new recognition program: Best Rated Custom Woodworking Businesses. This article sets the stage for the program, with an entry page to be posted online this summer. 

The prize:
• Recognition in Custom Woodworking Business in print, online and at Facebook and other social media.
• Video interviews and a trophy at the 2014 Cabinets & Closets Expo.

• Entrants are eligible to be live correspondents at industry events and at WoodworkingNetwork.com online.

Categories and criteria:
• Best Rated by Clients: Best rated by customers, as measured by your standing on Angie's List, Houzz, Kudzu, Yelp, etc.
• Best Rated Social Media Outreach: A review of your use of social media by Woodworking Network's e-team.
• Best Rated by Suppliers: Wood industry suppliers are invited to nominate custom woodworking businesses.

Houzz.com's juggernaut growth in the past year has drawn on in tens of thousands of professional design, architect and contracting firms, including hundreds in custom woodworking related areas. The site is visited by 11 million people, called "Houzzers."

Kitchen Magic, a franchise cabinetry refinisher in Staten Island, NY was designated a Best of Houzz in 2012. Grothouse Lumber was designated a Best of Houzz 2013, for customer satisfaction. Like many Best of Houzz custom woodworking businesses, Grothouse is famous in other media streams, including This Old House television program, where it has supplied butcherblock and solid wood countertops for several projects.

Angie’s List collects consumer reviews in more than 550 service categories, Hardwood Flooring, Flooring Refinishing, Garage Doors,  Carpentry - Unfinished, Carpentry - Woodworking,  Drywall,  Doors,  Countertops and Cabinet Making.

Last year it claimed more than one million paying subscribers across the U.S., relying on it for hiring references. Members get access to local ratings via Internet or phone, online articles about home improvement projects. They can also use the Angie’s List complaint resolution service.

Angie's List magazine publishes a "Best of" and "Worst of" list each January. For this article, they have exported a list of cabinet makers, carpenters and other home interior remodelers who earned this rating in January 2013.

While Houzz doesn't publish a list of its "Best of" ratings, consumers can ferret out many of them  them by adding the term "Best of" when searching for a category of service provider at the site, such as Cabinets & Cabinetry Makers. This turns up 373 results, including Bill Fry Construction and Kitchen Magic, though most are kitchen and interior home designers or resellers of cabinets.

A search at Houzz for Best of Wood Countertops will turn up Grothouse Lumber and 137 other results, including OTM Design and Remodeling, Sherman Oaks, CA, which fabricates and installs countertops and as well as designing and installing the Kemper line of cabinets; and Artisan Countertops, a national network of independent fabricators who fabricate and install the Heritage Wood countertop collection among other solid surface lines.

Superior Woodcraft is another Best of Houzz business at the interior design trends portal. The  “Best Of Houzz” award is given in both customer satisfaction and design categories. The Customer Satisfaction award is based on homeowner members who rated their experience working with remodeling pros in 12 categories ranging from architects, and interior designers to contractors and other residential remodeling professionals.

In addition to recognition at Houzz, Superior Woodcraft was named a Kudzu Best of 2012 cabinet maker. The Kudzu website is a referral service that features local business information and consumer reviews. Operated by Cox Media, Kudzu says Superior Woodcraft rose to the top among over 5 million businesses competing across 30 categories of home interior work - including custom furniture makers, cabinet makers, floor laying and refinishing, remodeling, etc. Winners were awarded based on the highest number of votes received on Kudzu.com. 

While Houzz doesn’t publish a list of its “Best of” ratings, consumers can ferret out many of them by adding the term “Best of” when searching for a category of service provider at the site, such as Cabinets & Cabinetry Makers. This turns up 373 results, including Bill Fry Construction and Kitchen Magic, though many are kitchen and interior designers or cabinet resellers.

A Houzz search for “Best of Wood Countertops” finds Grothouse and 137 others, including OTM Design & Remodeling, Sherman Oaks, CA; and Artisan Countertops, a national chain of independent shops installing Heritage Wood countertops.

Superior Woodcraft is another “Best of” media maven, winning a Kudzu Best of 2012 award in the cabinetmaker category. The Kudzu website, owned by Cox Media (it owns newspapers, TV stations and direct mail houses), is a referral service that features local business information and consumer reviews. Kudzu says Superior Woodcraft rose to the top among over 5 million businesses competing across 30 categories of home interior work – including custom furniture makers, cabinetmakers, floor laying and refinishing, remodeling, etc.

Winners were based on the highest number of votes received on Kudzu.com.



At the Kudzu site, Superior Woodcraft has 33 reviews, which run consistently positive, ranging from building and installing a single matched custom cabinet to allow a taller refrigerator to be installed; to contract work for builders and construction firms.

Superior Woodcraft also was designated a best of Houzz for 2012. Patrick Kennedy, VP and owner of Superior Woodcraft, uses social media marketing to keep up his firm’s web visibility. It is time well spent, given the fact more than 60 percent of consumer cabinet purchases originate online – according to a study by Masco Cabinets.

“I’m on Houzz now posting a project we did in New York City,” Kennedy said over the phone. “I’m doing it on a daily basis; I probably spend an hour on average.” Kennedy posts at Facebook and other sites.

“It’s another way to reach out to people who follow us,” he says. “People have their favorite social media sites, so we show up in all of them.”

Kennedy’s family were real estate investors, which lead him for awhile to the financial investment field. He later opened Superior Woodcraft “as a return to my roots, if you will,” since his family’s real estate business had entailed a lot of finish carpentry and cabinetry.

“A few years ago, we saw traditional marketing wasn’t working as well,” Kennedy says. “We felt we had to delve into this new world. We’re learning by trial and error, keeping tabs of what is working.”

While Kennedy learned basic cabinetry at his father’s side in remodeling and rehab, “Our particular niche now is that everything we do is custom. We are particularly dealing with the higher end of the market, similar to our investment clientele.”

Despite the cutting edge marketing efforts, 30-employee Superior Woodcraft is very traditional in its production process.

“We produce and finish everything ourselves. Vendors refer to us as ‘custom custom,’” Kennedy says. “In today’s world custom cabinetry doesn’t mean a lot to me – we don’t utilize CNCs.”

Work is done with a lot of hand-held tools, case clamps and saws: a sliding table saw, a Homag 12-foot beam saw that cuts multiple sheets at once, several radial arm saws, and eight table saws. A Holz-her edgebander is one automated process.

The venture into social media, “has been really interesting for us because most of our referral is word of mouth,” says Kennedy. But now, “word of mouth” spreads online. “The first thing they do is Google us. If they like what they see, then we will hear from them.”

Superior Woodcraft says every client is given individual attention for the duration of the project, whether a kitchen, master bath, library, butler's pantry, wine room or wet bar. This concerted effort produces exceptionally happy clients, as evidenced by their testimonials.

 “Our business is built on reputation and word-of-mouth referrals, which demands constant dedication to assuring clients have the best possible experience with our company," says Kennedy.


Houzz Professional Dashboard
Leveraging the popularity of its site with consumers seeing designers and remodelers, in March Houzz launched its Pro+ Dashboard, an analytics tool that lets professional participating in its Pro+ local marketing program track and analyze exposure to homeowners.

Originally launched in 12 markets late last year, it has now been expanded to 425 markets across the U.S. and Canada.

Like other web marketing services, Houzz Pro+ helps contractors using it to turn up at the top of search results.  The service is offered in addition to the free platform and tools used by more than 190,000 active general contractors, architects, interior designers, landscapers and other professionals.

Using Pro+ Dashboard, “Remodeling professionals will be armed with real-time insights on how their profile and portfolio are resonating with the homeowner community," says Houzz CEO Adi Tatarko. Contractors can make adjustments and craft their presentation to attract the clients most likely to buy. 

One of the major capabilities of Houzz Pro+ is geo-targeting, exposing a professional’s business profile and portfolio to homeowners in their local area. The new analytic tool will help professionals track and analyze their exposure, specifically homeowner interactions with their profile and portfolio. Providing professionals with real-time intelligence enables them to optimize their marketing and brand-building efforts. View sample screen shots of the Pro+ Dashboard: Full Dashboard and Metrics By Photo.

“Our goal with Pro+ is to deliver a service that helps professionals build their brands and increase their exposure to homeowners in their local area the way they want,” Tatarko says.






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The Houzz “Best Of Houzz” award for 2013 is given in two categories: Customer Satisfaction and Design. The Customer Satisfaction award is based on homeowner members who rated their experience working with remodeling professionals in 12 categories ranging from architects, and interior designers to contractors and other residential remodeling professionals.

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