Consumers and pros will get together at FindthePRO.com
By Susan M. Brimo-Cox
are being added to a Web site that will not only inform consumers about coatings and decorative finishes, but, also, help connect the consumers to local professionals and store locations. The Web site -- aptly named findthePRO.com -- is the brain child of Ernst and Bent Mikkelsen and their staff at Professional Trade Publications, the Eugene, Oregon-based publisher of PaintPRO and Concrete Decor magazines.
"As far as we can determine, there is no other Web site like ours," explains Bent Mikkelsen. "The site is designed to build awareness among consumers for the painting and decorating trade as we know it today."
The Web site will not tell consumers how to paint or apply decorative finishes -- it is not a do-it-yourself site -- but consumers will gain a perspective about what products and techniques are available and what constitutes quality work. The consumers will become better educated; and that's a good thing for contractors!
"As contractors, we see the very best of the best, but the rest of the world doesn't see that. Consumers catch just glimpses that come and go before they're aware of what they missed. With findthePRO.com, consumers can explore decorative finishes, gather information about how to find a contractor, and learn how to build a higher level of communication with that professional," explains Mikkelsen. "They'll know what to ask and what to expect from their contractor."
Specific sections of the Web site will focus on exterior coatings, interior painting, faux finishes, wallcoverings, decorative concrete, and design consultants. Project profiles will be featured and regional color ensembles discussed. Visitors can sign up to receive a quarterly electronic newsletter, Better Design, which will be delivered via e-mail in a PDF format. And two separate search engines will allow consumers to find a local contractor or paint store/design center.
FindthePRO.com offers value-added benefits to subscribers of PaintPRO, too. "We are making a connection, you might say, between findthePRO.com and PaintPRO in such a way that PaintPRO subscribers can qualify to derive a free online presence on the new Web site," Mikkelsen says.
Most PaintPRO subscribers -- contractors, independent businesses and individual paint stores -- are eligible to be automatically listed on findthePRO.com and put into the appropriate site search engine that consumers can access to find a professional or paint store/design center. The free listing will be included as long as the PaintPRO subscriber's subscription remains active.
Mikkelsen points out, "Getting involved in the Internet is a good thing because, through it, professionals gain additional exposure in a venue that consumers are accessing more and more for preliminary information gathering."
For trade professionals who are just beginning to get involved with the Internet and want their own Web site, findthePRO.com will offer economical, fee-based Web site design and hosting services. Subscribers who already have established Web sites can, for a fee, have a hyperlink to their Web site added to their findthePRO.com listing.
Interesting, innovative and outstanding projects by PaintPRO subscribers can also find their way onto findthePRO.com and in the Better Design E-newsletter. "Better Design will be issued in six regional versions, which means we will be looking for project profiles to feature," Mikkelsen says. "We want trade professionals to be involved and become more active in self-promotion. FindthePRO.com and the e-newsletter will help encourage that."
"Today's painting and decorating trade is changing and consumers are looking for better finishes and products to increase the value of their investments and quality of living," observes Mikkelsen. In addressing the needs of this niche -- from the nuts and bolts basics to the glamorous aspects of new finishes, faux finishes and advanced technologies — findthePRO.com — will serve as an ideal matchmaker for consumer and professional.