Team Templatic chats with Romain Gelez, real estate agent, scuba diver and founder of property search website, www.bestdealspuntacana.com.
Over our 10+ year journey, we have had the privilege of supporting the entrepreneurial dreams of thousands of online business owners in virtually every corner of the world. We discovered that they had a wealth of knowledge and experience to share that could be of value to our larger community of users. We felt compelled to contribute to your journey of growth in some way and that is how the idea for this interview series was born.
- Why Romain chose the WordPress themes and plugins he did and how it made a difference
- His go-to sources for the latest information on building and maintaining WordPress websites
- Romain’s future plans to drive traffic to his website and grow his business
Hello and welcome to a brand new series where we bring you customer stories and interviews packed with insights on how real people like you have gone on to build their own websites and create engaging experiences for their audiences. In this edition, we talk to Romain Gelez, a second-generation real estate agent based in Punta Cana, a beautiful sea-side town in the Dominican Republic.
Romain was an avid video game enthusiast in his childhood and built his first website so that he could share his passion with friends and family. Years later, he found the task of website maintenance rather difficult as a busy real estate agent. On the advice of his web hosting provider, Romain switched to WordPress about a year ago and now gets up to 25 unique visitors a day. We decided to catch up with Romain and ask him a few questions about the biggest challenges he has faced in running his website and any workarounds that he’d found useful.
Map on the homepage of www.bestdealspuntacana.com.
Templatic: Can you tell us something about your business? How did you get started? How did you hear about WordPress and how have things been different since?
Romain: I have been associated with the travel and tourism industry in various positions ranging from sales to operations management for many years now. I am also a certified scuba diver but my true calling in life has always been real estate. Last year, I started my own real estate business, helping homeowners and investors get great returns on their investments. I learned how to build websites after years of trial and error and was never quite satisfied with the outcome until I began using WordPress.
Honestly speaking, I was driven by my love for video games to build my first website as a teenager. The idea was to share my best tips on some of the most popular games back in the day. I’d send updates to my friends and clients via a simple web link that they could access on any device.
But, I must admit that building a website isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. Bringing together all the different elements – from the graphics to the overall interface – requires loads of patience and persistence. You guys make it all seem so easy!
Property listing on the website
Templatic: What do you do to find clients? Have you gotten your first five paying customers yet? When did you decide you needed WordPress? What platforms did you start with?
Romain: My family has been in the real estate business for nearly 2 decades now and we have been able to build a solid reputation for ourselves in our neighborhood and beyond. Most of our clients come from word of mouth referrals and good ol’ cold calling, although we have been trying to leverage online marketing to reach potential buyers abroad in regions like Eastern Europe, for example. The real estate market in the Dominican Republic had been growing rapidly until the pandemic struck. So, there is a bit of uncertainty right now. However, I’m optimistic about the potential of the real estate market here in the long term.
WordPress was a revelation after some of the other alternatives I’d used. I bought it as part of my web hosting plan with GoDaddy.com and there has been no looking back. The older French platforms I’d been using up until they simply did not have the flexibility I needed in terms of making modifications which took up a whole lot of my time. WordPress gives you complete control over the look and feel of your website. For me, nothing else comes close!
Templatic: What themes do you use to build websites? Why have you chosen those themes? What is the most common change you have to make to a theme to get it ‘ready’? What features/functionality do you wish all themes had?
Romain: HomeQuest was a natural choice given the nature of my business. It looks very beautiful, professional, and is easy to use. The home page has to look as perfect as possible since is the first thing seen by the visitor.
HomeQuest Real Estate Theme
A quiz at the begging with basic questions on how the theme should be setup would be perfect. It would be great if we could skip the programming of basic configurations when starting from scratch. Theme creators can help customers until just one point because there are too many possibilities, but there could be a few more samples to start from rather than just the main theme as purchased.
Templatic: What about plugins? What plugins do you wish existed, but don’t?
Romain: A key priority for us has been to improve www.bestdealpuntacana.com’s visibility in search engine result pages. To that end, we have been using Yoast SEO for over a year now but it hasn’t done much for our search rankings in Google. We also use WordPress File Manager, if not Filezilla.
A more-friendly user SEO app manager, for sure; there are some good plugins out there but a bit hard to use.
Templatic: How long have you been a Templatic customer? What is the best Templatic theme that you use?
Romain: I have been using your HomeQuest theme for about a year now.
Strategically placed property search form on homepage
Templatic: What is something that Templatic does better than anyone else? What is something that we could do better?
Romain: I have to say that I am very happy with your service so far, the support is really fast and amazing. There are always some small things to improve there and there, especially when building websites that can be used for similar but different purposes.
You might find it interesting to know that we use the HomeQuest theme a bit differently than you would have intended for a real estate directory theme. We do the listings ourselves on behalf of our customers and business associates. However, it just goes to show the versatility of your theme and the thought behind it.
Templatic: If someone wanted to build websites as you do, what skills should they have?
Romain: Be open-minded, look how other professionals do it, see as many tutorials on the web to keep learning more about the endless possibilities when creating a website.
Templatic: If someone was interested in starting to build websites, what’s the best online resource you’d direct them to check out?
Romain: My top recommendation would be for them to get a Templatic theme for WordPress! Besides Templatic.com, I’ve also found resources on www.websitebuilderexpert.com , www.wpexplorer.com and www.wpfixit.com to be very useful.
Templatic: How do you check and monitor the speed of your websites?
Romain: Site speed is also something we pay a lot of attention to. We use getmetrix.com for tracking.
Templatic: What tools do you use for making backups of your websites?
Romain: I am very satisfied with the export option of WordPress in combination with WP Database Backup.
Templatic: What are some ideas you’re working on to get new business post-pandemic?
Romain: We’ve been exploring running paid ad campaigns on social media to grow our traffic. Listing on other popular search engines like Yandex Search to engage with our East European audience – as I mentioned earlier – is also on the cards.
Templatic: It was great chatting with you, Romain! Where can our readers find you online?
Templatic: Thank you, Romain! For all you hustlers out there, Templatic’s array of themes and plug-ins can save you time, money and hassle and – as with Romain Gelez- help you turn your passion into a money-making business. Watch this space for more! Bye for now!