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.
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.
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.