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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, March 24, 2014, 6:55 am

Zenergy maps growth with Google

Plans offices in S.F., Marin, Napa and outside Bay Area

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    J Vineyards virtual tour of Legacy Reserve Lounge

    Zenergy Works coordinated the Google Maps Business View tour for J Vineyards & Winery, which allows virtual visitors to see the wine shop, Bubble Room lounge and upstairs Legacy Reserve Lounge (shown in this screenshot) overlooking the winery production floor.

    SANTA ROSA — Zenergy Works, a website builder and Internet marketing company, plans to significantly expand its workforce and open offices in Western states fueled by a recently revamped business-oriented mapping services by Mountain View-based Google.

    In coming months, Zenergy Works (707-360-1402, zenergyworks.com) plans to open a 20-person sales, technical and photography office in San Francisco to create Google Maps Business View 360-degree virtual tours of several hundred Bay Area restaurants and other businesses in the next six months, according to Bryan Fikes, 38, co-owner of Zenergy Works.

    Bryan Fikes

    Bryan Fikes

    Within six months, the goal is to set up similar-sized offices in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Denver and Phoenix.

    Currently, Zenergy Works has 29 employees in its downtown Santa Rosa office and working remotely to serve customers in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties. Branch offices with four to five salespeople and photographers are being planned in Marin and Napa counties. A branch in Lake County could open in as soon as three months, if enough tours clients are established, Mr. Fikes said.

    Each of the expansions outside the Bay Area ultimately would have additional branch offices in suburbs to manage demand, Mr. Fikes said. So far, this expansion is being funded internally, fueled by doubling of revenues annually since 2007, he said.

    This comes as the global Internet search and apps giant recently rolled out a revamped look for Google Maps and an enhanced approach to showing users what the insides of certain businesses look like. Launched earlier this month, Google Maps Business View replaces the static images of a previous iteration a couple of years ago.

    Virtual tours have been around in real estate for years to allow property shoppers to “look around” a home before setting up an on-site tour with an agent. What Google, Microsoft and other search and providers of online cartography are trying to merge with maps are data from Internet searches, information provided by businesses and content from reviews providers.

    In conjunction with that, Zenergy Works has developed software, called Sales Eagle, that blends a business’ marketing information with the Google Maps Business View tour of the premises.

    “It turns the Google tour into an in-store marketing device,” Mr. Fikes said.

    Splash Express virtual tour by Zenergy Works

    Google awarded Zenergy Works “Most Creative Tour” for the “drive-though” tour of Splash Express of Santa Rosa.

    A first implementation of Sales Eagle was the new Google Maps Business View for Lawrence Amaturo’s Splash Express car wash in Santa Rosa. Zenergy Works won first “Most Creative Tour” award for the car wash tour. It allows users to “get in” and “get out” of a new model from Mr. Amaturo’s Kia of Santa Rosa dealership, choose different experiences for a multicolored-suds trip through the car wash and “tune” the car radio to one of Mr. Amaturo’s local stations.

    Google selected the Splash Express tour from among the work of roughly 600 “trusted photographer” and “trusted agency” worldwide. Zenergy Works became such an agency in July. That means it manages business requests for virtual tours and hires photographers.

    Options for Sales Eagle currently in the works involve being able to click on a bottle on the shelf during a virtual tour of a winery and get information to purchase it. This helps bridge the current gap between occasionally updated virtual tours with potentially up-to-the-minute customer-updated marketing information, Mr. Fikes said.

    Google Maps tours cost $399 to $5,000, depending on the scope and size of property. Sales Eagle will have an annual license for tour enhancements and hosting and cost $199–$399 a month, varying by level of service.

    Zenergy Works’ push outside of the Bay Area and the state also is being driven by demand for Sales Eagle from the company’s 1,200 local and national website and search engine optimization clients across the U.S. and in Canada, according to Mr. Fikes. Through affiliates, the customer count has grown past 4,500.

    Yet the projected growth of the Sales Eagle and rollout of the mapping agency services makes it necessary to spin off this venture, Mr. Fikes said.

    “We do not want Internet marketing to stand in the way of development of Sales Eagle,” he said.

    The company started as New Generation Media in 1998, starting out building and maintaining websites for media companies. Mr. Fikes started Zenergy Internet Marketing in July 2007 and joined forces as Zenergy Works with Eric Van Cleave and other management of New Generation Media in 2009. Mr. Fikes and Mr. Van Cleave acquired full ownership in 2011.

    A Zenergy affiliate purchased the 6,200-square-foot Luther Burbank Savings branch office building at 819–820 Fourth St. in Santa Rosa last year, and Zenergy Works plans to move there in November. A search is on for an office building to purchase in Napa.

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    Comments

    14 Comments

    1. March 24, 2014, 8:55 am

      by Charlie Halsell

      Excited to see this article! It confirms the potiential for huge growth in the brick and mortar stores that have suffered with the boom of online shopping. Warehouse pricing is here to stay, but Google Maps Business View is about to put Mom and Pop stores back in the game! …..Charlie – (a Google trusted photographer in Santa Barbara County)


    2. March 27, 2014, 9:48 pm

      by Steve Swanson

      Uhhhh…pretty sure you don’t have to pay that much to do this. You can go directly to Google to get it done for half the cost. Just sayin’.


    3. March 28, 2014, 12:46 pm

      by judith delaney

      privacy and copyright issues – I am sure you have thought about all of this as Google will NOT be your protector.


    4. March 28, 2014, 1:47 pm

      by Bryan Fikes

      Steve,

      I wanted to reply to your post and share some information. There are a number of products in the Local Business Listing space and navigating can be very cumbersome. Here is a breakdown:

      1. Verifying your Google Listing and updating with your business information is free.
      2. Adjusting your maps icon to correctly reflect where you are “located” online is free.
      3. Hiring a Trusted Agency to shoot your Google Maps Business View is not free. More info here: http://www.google.com/maps/about/partners/businessview/

      There are several companies in the SF Bay Area who can help and we happen to be the only agency north of the golden gate. The major difference in what you get from photographers and agencies comes with what you receive in the way of support and ideas on how to use the program to better assistant your companies advertising and getting the most exposure of your tour. I won’t go into a sales pitch here as my primary goal was to simple educate based on your response.

      If you have any further questions, feel free to email me directly: Bryan@zenergyworks.com

      Kind Regards,

      Bryan Fikes, Chief Strategist, Zenergy Works


    5. April 3, 2014, 1:12 pm

      by Jimmy

      Funny that this article is in the Business Journal, a subsidiary of the Press Democrat, who has it’s own paltry “media lab.”


    6. April 4, 2014, 1:33 pm

      by Dan Verel, Business Journal Staff Reporter

      Jimmy, just to clarify: the Business Journal is part of Sonoma Media Investments, not a subsidiary of the Press Democrat. Same parent company, different editorial operations. As for the Media Lab, that’s beyond our purview at the Business Journal. Thanks for reading.

      Cheers,
      Dan Verel


    7. April 5, 2014, 11:00 pm

      by Jackson

      This article says doubles in profit from 2007 but joined forces with another company in 2009. What doubled in profits? And that sounds like a lot of hot air. Maybe if your profit was $10 year one then it would add up, but we are supposed to believe that it has doubled EVERY year? [Abusive comment deleted per the Comment Policy.]


    8. April 5, 2014, 11:11 pm

      by Michael Tomas

      This sounds like an interesting feature created by Google, while a good idea it’s more of a novelty. While Google has photographers and agencies you can use, these prices seem ridiculously expensive for a virtual tour. I’ve see tours from agencies and photographers, the end result is the same and the photographers seem to be 3-8 times cheaper than agencies, especially locally. Best of luck to this company but seem they have overpriced themselves by a lot. Not one company I’ve asked has seen new business as a result of this service


    9. April 8, 2014, 12:14 am

      by Carl A

      I am a Google Trusted photographer since it’s inception. I am always excited to see new uses of this technology. However, it was only a matter of time until someone tried to assign a monthly fee. If I charged a client an upfront fee for the tour and then a monthly fee of over $200 (for the low end?) for a half working menu and and info menu on only 3 of those links? I’d hire an attorney quickly. What exactly is this monthly fee for? I guess since “SEO” died, got to make that monthly somehow. Save your hard-earned money.


    10. April 8, 2014, 8:59 am

      by Henry

      I am not sure why it would cost so much for this service. After reading the article and the follow up comments this looks like something I could do for free and certainly for less than several thousand dollars. with a monthly fee attached. Like Carl said since SEO “died” companies like this are looking to line their pockets it sounds like to me. Caveat Emptor!


    11. April 8, 2014, 6:09 pm

      by Bryan Fikes

      I just wanted to address a few responses personally as it appears some misinformation is leading to people drawing incorrect conclusions.

      1. Having a Google Maps Business View done correctly and having the tour and POI’s are ingested directly into Google Maps, Google Search, and other Google assets will only happen with a certified Agency or Photographer. And yes, having it done correctly and professionally for a retail business does cost as with any professional service. Ever used a free Lawyer or CPA? Not really worth much right?
      2. Monthly Fees — The cost of the tour is a one time expense in most cases. intelligent marketers who are reaping the value of the tours have created seasonal marketing opportunities and update their tours.
      3. The monthly program is an enhanced platform that allows customers to build isolating marketing pages that highlight the tour and make it the perfect in-store advertising device. More information on this in the coming months.

      Search Engine Optimization is not dead or dying, it is drastically changing. Social SEO is the new marketing model.

      Kind Regards,

      Bryan Fikes, Chief Strategist, Zenergy Works

      —Happy to answer any concerns or questions you may have directly. You can reach my office at 707-360-1400.


    12. April 8, 2014, 8:37 pm

      by Carl Afable

      Hmm, maybe there’s another Carl A in the Business View program that’s been around since program launch.
      (checking original 35 photographer list)
      ….and back. Nope, I’m the only one. Which actually makes this criminal impersonation.

      I met Bryan Fikes at Google Mountain View during the 2013 Year End Awards ceremony. Bryan runs a professional outfit and provides a lot of value for his clients. He, along with the very small group of photographers (myself included) benefited by having access to Googlers such as the elusive Places Pages representatives during the GMTV visit. He’s one of the top providers in the program and is recognized by Google for his work. Pointing out fees without any context is pretty much meaningless.


    13. April 29, 2014, 5:43 pm

      by T.K.

      This is fascinating and so controversial at the same time. We operate a small business in Santa Rosa, and we were contacted by Zenergy Works for photo shoot. While we think the idea is pretty cool, and we were considering it, we can across some interesting info that somewhat confirms Thomas’ input above.

      We have a small boutique style store, and were quoted $950 for the tour…. doing some homework on the program, we found something very interesting. There is a local photographer in the area, so we contacted him for a quote. His quote was $525!! What is going on here? So we grilled him on the offer.

      It appears that the offer, the tour and the product are 100% the same. It appears to be strange, but the photographer appears to be completely legitimate.

      Look into the Google website for Paul Murphy, the link was provided in this discussion and find out for yourself. But when it comes to the same think, paying less is in our favor. If we do decide to go forward with the shoot, we will call Paul base do the info we found.

      http://www.google.com/maps/about/partners/businessview/


    14. May 14, 2014, 9:05 am

      by Bryan Fikes

      Just thought I would post a quick response to T.K’s post. There are clear advantages to working with an digital agency for both your Google Business View and your internet marketing. Again, another fishy response since we don’t offer that price point you mentioned. Feels like another “fake” comment.

      T.K. – If you are in fact a real person, I would be happy to talk offline. Feel free to email me personally at bryan@zenergyworks.com.

      Kind Regards,
      Bryan Fikes
      Chief Strategist
      Zenergy Works


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