Your Location is Important Online Too
Would you rather have your shop located on a busy street that runs through the heart of your town, or on a dead end road on the outskirts somewhere? Do you have signs outside your shop, or do you leave people guessing about what you actually do behind those bay doors they drive by every day? The answers to both of these questions are obvious. Of course you want to be in a busy location, where potential customers see you and know you are in a convenient location for their eventual car repair and vehicle maintenance needs.
So why do so many auto repair shops still not have a website? When you think about it, almost every potential customer now “drives by” your shop online. Most consumers use search engines, social media and online directories to search for a local auto repair shop. If these potential customers can’t find your shop when they are searching these places online, it’s the same thing as being located on a busy street and not having a sign out front.
Why You Need a Website
If you weren’t convinced by our opening argument, here are some key facts to consider that may convince you it’s finally time to get your shop online. For starters, there are more than 3 billion Internet users in the world today – that’s 40 percent of the global population today. Granted, you shop isn’t serving all customers in the world, but Internet usage is even more widespread in the U.S., with more than 84 percent of consumers now online. That means 8 out of every 10 of your customers have Internet access. More than 91 percent of those people are searching the Web via their desktop computers at home and work, and more than 80 percent are searching the via their smartphones (more than 68 percent of U.S. consumers now own a smartphone).
The growth and use of smartphones for Internet use is reason enough to get your shop online. Consider these recent facts released by Google about how your customers are using their mobile device:
- 72% of consumers who searched for local information on their mobile visit a store within 5 miles
- 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their phone visit that business the next day
- 34% who search on their computer or tablet do the same
- 18% of local searches lead to a sale within one day
- 61% use the address or phone number in search results
- 68% use the “Get Directions” or “Call” buttons in search results
Let’s explore the last statistic a bit further. When you consider there were more than 181,000 searches for “auto repair near me” and “mechanic near me” in July – search terms that have increased month-over-month for the past year – if 18 percent of those searches led to a sale the next day, that’s 32,580 new customers who visited a local auto repair shop in July of this year. And that only represents two of hundreds of potential local search terms in a given area. Even if there are only 100 local searches for those two terms in your area, that’s still 18 new customers you didn’t get if you don’t have a website.
Why Most Auto Repair Shops Still Don’t Have a Website
While it’s been relatively easy for a small business to launch a website for more than 25 years now, Inc. recently reported survey results which found almost half of all small businesses still don’t have a website. While this number is most-likely higher among local businesses, many auto repair shops fall into this category. The Inc. story did reveal that 17 percent of those small businesses are planning to launch a website this year, but based on the history, it’s likely many still won’t move forward.
So why do so many auto repair shops still not have a website? Here are the most-common reasons we’ve found through reviewing survey data and conducting our own independent polls here at CarCareCONNECT:
- Budget – a website is too expensive – don’t have the budget at this time
- Knowledge – don’t know much about the Web, intimidated by the process
- Time – don’t have the time to work on the website or figure out how
- Fear – have tried before, but been taken advantage of by a vendor – not sure who to trust
- Need – don’t need a website, have plenty of business via word-of-mouth
In surveying auto repair shops, we also found many shop owners who don’t know whether or not they have a website, or they paid for a service and think they have a website – but it’s not setup to show up in Web or mobile searches. While some of the reasons listed above do have some merit, a website should be viewed as a necessary investment for any auto repair shop. Just as your shop needs a telephone so customers can call and schedule appointments, you also need a website to help customers find your phone number in the first place (they don’t use phonebooks anymore).
How to Get Your Auto Repair Shop Online
Did we convince you to finally move forward with your website? Here are some steps you can follow to get the process started:
- Decide on your website address or URL – use a website like GoDaddy.com to search for a domain name – the best option is something like www.yourshopname.com. If it’s available, follow the instructions and register your domain (this is your address on the Internet).
- The next step is to decide whether or not you can build your website on your own, or whether you will use an auto repair website specialist (simply Google “auto repair website providers” and you’ll see plenty of options). One option is CarCareCONNECT.
- Gather any relevant information you would like to display on your website – think about what customers are most-interested in when looking for an auto repair shop. Some of the biggies include:
- Shop location
- Hours of operation
- Types of services you provide
- Professional memberships or mechanic certifications
- Repair warranty information (if provided)
- Appointment request (either the ability to do through the website, or simply a contact form or phone number)
- Customer testimonials or reviews
- Pictures of your shop and the work you do
DIY or DIFM?
Most website and online marketing providers specializing in auto repair websites will be able to guide you through the process above. Be sure to either develop your website or select a vendor who will develop a website that is mobile-friendly. The technical term for this is a “responsive website” – which means the website will look great and perform well on any device a consumer is using to view it, including mobile devices.
From there, you’ll want to make sure your website shows up in search engines. You’ll need a search engine optimization professional to help you with this, and most website vendors offer this service as part of their solutions. Not all vendors are created equal, so be sure to ask a lot of questions about how they are going to make sure your website shows up for what consumers are searching for in your local area. There are a few options when it comes to search, but you don’t have to start with everything all at once. In the beginning, you may want to consider trying Pay-Per-Click if you’re looking for higher placement on searches quickly.
As one word of caution here, it’s not necessary to purchase Google Adwords or related pay-per-click marketing services upfront. Many vendors offer this option upfront, but we’ve found it’s better to give your website a few months to see how it ranks for the most-popular searches in your area. After you’ve been up and running for a couple of months, you or your vendor can look at the results and determine if it makes sense to purchase keywords for terms you aren’t ranking for.
Finally, start to put your website address everywhere. On your business cards, email signatures, brochures, advertisements, social media accounts and any online directories where your business is listed. You’ll also want to setup your Google My Business account. This will help your auto repair shop up in local searches, but also to be listed in mobile search and map search results via Google (very important for auto repair shops).
These are the basic steps in getting your website up and running. There are other factors to this process, but we will explore those topics further in future posts. For now, the most-important thing to start reaching more potential customers for your shop, is to get your website built and launched. It’s like putting another road in front of your shop, with a MUCH BIGGER sign out front.