Wet Basements – GJ MacRae Foundation Repair

After being in business for over 40 years, Gavin MacRae had just completed a rebrand of their entire business, and had posted to Reddit asking for feedback. He’d already done an amazing job, but we were still able to step in and give some feedback that we hope helped out!

Greetings: Long time lurker, thanks for taking the time to read my post!

I’m in the process of relaunching my brand (family run business specializing in underpinning, concrete waterproofing, structural restoration) here in Canada.

I just launched my new website (with new branding, fresh logo, custom timelapse videos of my projects combined with thorough/thoughtful content writeups on our specialties) etc.

Take a peek, let me know how it comes across! Any advice or comments would be helpful!

(Naturally, the best version of the new website is the desktop version)

Thanks in advance!

Gavin MacRae – GJ MacRae Foundation Repair
Toronto, Canada http://www.wetbasements.com/

First Impressions

  • My parents live outside of Ottawa and I totally get the “wet basements” thing.
  • Company name doesn’t match URL
  • Family photo doesn’t really sell me
  • Animation on the menu is a bit over the top
  • That Services menu is pretty awesome
  • Logo is a bit old fashioned. Consider reducing the detail/colours, making it more stylised and modern. I’d personally throw $50 at fiverr gigs just for ideas and inspirations, then find a more expensive designer to implement a concept you decide on.
  • Overall site speed is a bit slow. Consider adding a WP Caching plugin and throwing it through Cloudflare’s free plan for CDN/caching. Also look at GTMetrix and Pingdom for speed ideas.
  • Should have your phone number and e-mail at the top of every page
  • Bit overwhelmed with the whole brand history – how long you’ve been in business. I mean, it’s great, be proud of it, but I feel the website focus should be more on the work you do.
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Landing Page

Hero

  • “Since 1975” isn’t really a benefit to the customer so probably doesn’t deserve space in your main header. Your main header should really be about the core value proposition you offer to your customer (presumably something about wet basements)

  • The sub-header is pretty decent. Breaks how you add value to your customer, and notes your service area (GTA won’t make much sense to people outside the Greater Toronto Area, but I don’t think that’s a big issue)
  • The family photo doesn’t really sell me. You look like a nice family, and that’s a great family photo, but you don’t look like bad-ass foundation repairers. I’d rather see a photo of the 4 young lads in full construction gear, striking a bad-ass pose. Or better yet, working on a foundation
  • Watch our Video -> Save that for a post-hero section. The hero is really about having a call to action for “Get a free quote”, or something to that effect
  • I didn’t even notice until now that there is a slider/carousel there. Ditch it… If they’re self-animated, they’re annoying; if they’re not, they’re unnoticable.
  • Love that service area tagline at the bottom, but the arrow doesn’t tell me what I’m clicking for. I would probably just put your 1800 number on the end there.

Sub-Hero section

  • This is great! You go straight into the services you provide – it’s highly visual, with clear labels of what you do.

  • I’m not sure you need the paragraph of text after each service. I think they’re self-explanatory, and if people want to know more they can click through.
  • Kudos on making the entire box clickable for the services… might be worth having a “read more” button (or equivalent) in place of the paragraph of text, to underscore people can click to see more
  • Alternatively, consider the “… read more” approach, if you decide to keep the text

Rest of Landing Page

Request a Quote Today:

  • I don’t think the pictures you’ve used here really fit with the rest of your design. Way too colourful. I’d consider aligning them to 1-2 colours in your colour palette (red green black gold)

  • Why not have the toll free number in this section?
  • Consider having the “request a free quote” button just load a modal/popup with the quote request form… that way they don’t have to leave the current page (or wait for anything to load)

Sad Broken Link

  • I’m not sure what the next section is meant to be, but I get a sad broken link icon.

  • This would be a good place to put your video (I’d do it half screen with something on the right about the history/longevity of your company, and the great job you do)

Footer:

  • That is a bad-ass footer. Has everything you need, and more
  • Only thing I’d suggest is maybe making it a different shade (black with white writing?), or having some other divider so it’s very clear

Rest of Site

Menu

  • You could probably safely move “warranty” to the bottom of the page, unless this is specifically a pain point for customers in your industry (eg, people are sick of paying for someone like you to waterproof their basement and then it doesn’t work)
  • Likewise with the blog link, I think this could be moved to the bottom because your blog will be used as a way to bring people to your site (either through SEO or through social media links/ads)… once they’re on your site, you want them focused on buying your services
  • For “Media”, consider renaming this “Tutorials” (see youtube comments below)
  • That said, don’t be afraid to add these as sections on your landing page

Services Pages

  • These are amazingly well done. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a local trade company with a site like this

  • I’d swap the quote and the “Introduction:” header for just a short paragraph that sums up the service. From an SEO perspective, this paragraph is the opportunity to hit your keywords.
  • Not much else to say here

About Us

  • Love the family and business history here. I feel like this is where it belongs, rather than dominating the landing page.
  • That “Why Choose us?” bit is great, could easily live on the landing page

Blog

  • The fact that you’re using it, and creating good content is fantastic
  • Consider adding better paragraphing to your posts, using h2 and h3 tags throughout your post. Eg this one just looks like a wall of text

  • Consider writing more “Toronto-centric” posts… things relevant to people living in the GTA, but also framing the posts in context of the GTA. “How Torontonians benefit from water-proofing their basement” kinda thing.
  • Use longer text in the page URL. Eg “why-waterproof-4” should be “why-to-waterproofing-your-structure-is-imperative”.

Contact Page

  • Ditch the captcha on the contact page. You’re already listing Noreen’s e-mail address, so you’re going to get spam regardless.
  • Simplify the “Request a Quote” form. Basically you want name/e-mail/phone number, and then you can get in contact with them to setup a time.
  • You could consider changing the e-mail to a generic info@ or sales@ address, rather than using Noreen’s, but you know, that works too, since I know I’m getting a real person.

Social Media

  • It’s rare to see companies with 3 social media links actually using all 3 social media platforms. Kudos.

Facebook

  • Doing a good job here, too!
  • Push some more customers to leave reviews, if you can. You’ve got over 40 years of customers and 4 reviews 😀
  • Probably less “HEY CALL US TO FIX YOUR BASEMENT” posts… a few more blog tips, show photos of finished basements, or basements that customers have built after you have fixed them. Eg, “Check out the awesome home bar Jimmy McDougal put into his Mississauga home after we fixed his leaky basement”
  • Before and after photos would be cool. Photos of you doing the work, etc.
  • Promote more of your blog content here, since you seem to be uploading this to your site quite regularly (kudos)
  • Make sure you’ve got a facebook pixel setup and have it installed on the site… you can then target Facebook ads at people who’ve visited your site. Likewise for Google tracking pixel.

Twitter

  • Posts here are good, same thing about less “call to action” posts.
  • When I click “Tweets and Replies” here, I don’t see you talking to anybody else on Twitter. Spend 30 minutes a day tweeting to anyone who uses hashtags relevant to your area (eg, anyone posting from Toronto or on the #toronto hashtag)… do it while you’re eating lunch, between sets at the gym, while sitting on the couch watching TV at the end of a long day, etc.

Youtube

  • You’re doing a good job here, the one thing I’d suggest is to look at doing some longer videos. Videos like this one about hanging a whiteboard are a good example, but don’t be afraid to do super longer ones.
  • Because of your local focus, consider spending the effort on youtube how-tos that specifically address issues people in Ontario go through.
  • I think his name is John… he’s great at presenting. Really good with the camera.

The Feedback

After replying to Gavin’s request for a teardown, we never heard back from him, but within a few days, we began to see some of our recommended changes begin to be implemented on the site. For us at Brutal Teardowns, that’s more important than receiving a thank you – so many people thank us for our reviews, tell us how much they agree with everything we said, and then a few months later haven’t made any of the changes. So kudos to you Mr MacRae!

Final Thoughts

There’s some really impressive effort that’s gone into building this site. I think most of my recommendations are just that I’d do things differently to how the GJ MacRae team did them, not that they did them the wrong way… and given that they’ve started to implement some of the changes, we’re glad that they took some value away from our teardown report.

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