AH Digital FX Studios Featured in River City Weekly
River City Weekly
Posted by Adam Hayes
Recently AH Digital FX Studios was featured in River City Weekly's article about businesses in Idaho that have succeeded on the web. (Full Article (535 K pdf) )
Kevin Keefe remembers answering the phone in Idaho Falls late one night, and on the other end was a voice with a unique accent. “Hi, I’m calling from Liverpool, and I want to buy a ski hat.” That’s just one of the stories he has to tell after retailing his custommade ski hats since 2001 on the Internet from his Web site www.getaKLU.com.
Keefe’s business, KLU Mountain Outerwear, is just one of many locally owned businesses that have taken advantage of the Internet. Some are custom-designed, some are variations of a ready-made site, but all bring customers easy access to their information and products.
Keefe and his wife sew the hats after customers place their orders online with their own head measurements and choices of colors and patterns. It only takes about a day to sew it up before they ship them out to all parts of the world.
“We don’t do any advertising,” said Keefe. “It’s all about search engines. The person who figures out how to get number one in search engines makes a million bucks.” Keefe for several years had a Web site that simply told about their products but didn’t have a way to order. He did a redesign of his site in 2001, then started taking credit cards as a form of payment and put in metatags so that his site was the first one found if someone searched for the key words “ski hats.”
“Our business went up five-fold,” he said. Last year was their best year ever, grossing about $12,000 in sales. In December he took two weeks off of his day job at the site; KLU mountain outerwear took 176 orders that month and each Monday shipped out about 32 orders.
“That’s our busy season. We don’t take vacations or visit family in the winter. By about March it slows down, and we have summers off, which is what we want,” Keefe said. “I thought about adding a summer line, but I’d rather go rock climbing and kayaking.”
Kent Frecker never really advertised his custom saddle-making business in its 18-year span. But when Frecker Saddlery went online (www.freckersaddlery. com), he doubled his business and hired two more employees.
“We did it for convenience,” Frecker said. “Our goal wasn’t to expand any; it’s easier to refer people to that Web site than keep making copies of pictures or try to make a catalog. Then we got bombarded with phone calls and more people wanting saddles. Now and then we’d put extra saddles on the Web site, and they would sell. Then those customers would come back and have orders lined up. It kind of surprised us. Now we get phone calls from all across the country.”
The Web site is essentially Frecker’s store, which allows added flexibility. “We don’t have a storefront per se. The shop is here at my house and we don’t keep business hours. If I want to go for a horse ride today I can close the shop, let the answering machine answer the phone or let the emails come in. It gives us a lot of freedom,” he said.
Convenience was the main reason for Melissa and Jim Barnard of Rigby to put Landmark Development and Silver Creek Construction online (www. landmarkdevelopment.org and www.silvercreekconstruction. com). It’s easy to list lots for sale and house plan descriptions online.
“It’s convenient for customers. They go to the site at their leisure and don’t feel sales pressure. It’s technology that everybody uses. It’s a way to find us and for the Web site the more information the better,” Melissa said. “We have protective covenants listed and any plots or house amenities. If I had to send out a mass mailing it would be very expensive, and I’d probably miss my market. Online it’s specific. They’re the customer you want because they’re looking.”
Adam Hayes started his Web design business in 2002. He does everything from the initial concept, design and branding to the coding, back-end administration and search engine optimization.
With several local and national clients, including Keefe, Frecker and Barnard, he has a few tips for those thinking of starting out on the Web.
He has helped individuals develop a small side business and helped large companies get noticed online.
“The most important thing that anyone can do when starting a Web-based business is understand their customer. You’ve got seven seconds when they find your site for them to decide this is where they want to be. Otherwise they’ll click ‘back’ and never come back to your site. You have to know what they want so they can say ‘yes, I finally found where I want to be,’” Hayes said. Hayes’ clients come mostly from referrals. He was recommended to Keefe by his father-in-law and was recommended to Barnard by a satisfied client. You can find his site at www.ahfx.net.
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