In one of our recent posts, Nine Ways to Keep Your Customers Coming Back, we covered the basics in establishing customer loyalty. Clean reception area, friendly staff, great service… all things that can make your shop stand out in your community. And all things that create the positive experience that keeps customers coming back for more (not to mention telling their friends to come along, too).
If you’re an auto service or repair shop owner, you know that the way customers perceive your business is key to building solid relationships and beating out the competition. Creating a positive customer experience is just as important as providing the quality repairs your customers expect. These days, the customer experience doesn’t end when the car drives away from the shop. In fact, in some cases it doesn’t even begin when they get to the shop. Successful shop owners know that more and more, the customer experience begins here. Online. With limited time and resources, one of the simplest ways to provide the service and convenience your customers expect is by having a website. Even if it’s just one page (though more would be better), having a presence on the world wide web will provide you with more opportunities for enhancing your local exposure to a larger customer base.
Fifty-eight percent of Americans go online to research products and services they are considering purchasing, according to a survey released in September, 2010 by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. That’s up from 49 percent in 2004. Keep in mind, that’s 58 percent of AMERICANS. Not Internet users. That’s nearly 180 MILLION people, based on 2010 census numbers. If you don’t have a website, that’s a huge, untapped audience that you may be missing out on.
An effective website doesn’t have to cost a fortune these days . GoDaddy.com (the site Danica Patrick made famous) is offering domain names for as little as $12 a year. Throw in the hosting costs, which can be as little as $36 a year, and you could make a significant impact on your customer base for as little as $50 a year. And most shop owners find that they get their return on investment quickly, since websites keep you engaged with your customers and double as an effective way to advertise your business and generate more clients.They don’t have to be a huge, daily undertaking, either. Even if you simply put up a few pages containing key information about your business, you’re way ahead of the game.
Nowadays, customers live in a world where they can turn to the internet for information, to make decisions, to do their banking, or to make purchases. Imagine the image your shop would have if your customers could book their service appointments online, view frequently asked questions, or print out coupons for their next visit.
Here are just a few ways you can put your website to work for your auto shop:
· Collect Emails from your website for people to subscribe to newsletters or service reminders
· Engage your customers with special service discounts or holiday promotions
· Enable more new customers to find you when they’re searching for a service shop in your area on the internet (this provides more opportunities than you may think – more on this in a future blog post)
· Retain a professional image and be able to communicate with your customers online
· Process requests right away by including a service request form on your website
· Save money on printing and postage costs by using your website as a catalog for your services
· Allow your customers to download invoices or service estimates
· If you sell products at your shop, you can offer them online
· Set up email addresses specific to your web domain name to further strengthen your shop’s image
· Gather important information by using online forms and surveys
Even if you incorporate just three, two or… even none of these suggestions – simply having an online presence can cost you little and offer you significant returns. See you online!
Additional Resources and References
Pew Internet Research – Online Product Research
Wikipedia – 2010 Census