Do company web sites lead to more business or are they just a drain on the bottom line? Depends on whom you ask. The Association of Service and Mechanical Contractors (ASAM) of Southeastern Michigan recently surveyed member companies on the issue. While a large majority of those who responded have web sites, not one contractor with a web site reported ever generating any business from it.

"Interest in web sites seems lukewarm at best," said Frank Versagi, managing director of the ASAM.

According to the survey, many contractors feel that while the Web has future potential for generating business, it's not currently resulting in enough customers to warrant spending a lot of money. Many contractors add they're too busy to devote much energy to a web site. "They don't have the time to update the damn thing," Versagi said.

A further sign of tepid enthusiasm: Only half of member companies with a web site took the ASAM up on its offer to provide a free link from the association's web site (www.asamem.org).

Other contractor groups, however, report members are eager to post their web sites. A spokeswoman for the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA) said the number of people using the group's web site (www.smacna.org) to reach contractors is up 21% so far this year.

"Our (online) membership directory is a hot item," said Rosalind Raymond, SMACNA communications director. "We get calls from owners looking for a certain type of work and we send them right to the web site."

SMACNA estimates that 32% of member companies nationwide have web sites. In some states, such as California, the number approaches 50%.

"Our membership pages are the second-most accessed pages on the web site," Raymond added. "People can surf onto the site and see the kind of work a contractor does and a decide if they want to call them for a quote."

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) does not keep statistics on how many of its 9,000 members have web sites, but spokesman Kevin Holland said most members are listed on the ACCA web site's (www.acca.org) "contractor locator." The ZIP code-based search engine receives several thousand visits from interested consumers a month, Holland said.

Contractors: Does your company have a web site? Does it bring you any business? Email me at mcconnellm@bnp.com and we'll publish some of your experiences in a future I-Net Buzz column.

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