Why Should Body Shops Have a Website?

Why Should Body Shops Have a Website?

I was at a collision-related event recently when a body shop owner asked me, “Why should I have a website? The only reason I have one now is because my main competitor next door has one,” he explained. My first response was “That’s a very good reason right there.”

I am surprised when I find so many successful body shops that don’t have websites. So, I decided to poll some industry and Internet experts to assemble a list of convincing reasons. Ten years ago, having a website was something to consider and weigh the advantages, but in today’s world, it’s a no-brainer for many reasons.

I recently received a direct mail piece by a company that has a new DIY site that can help body shops to create websites easily and affordably. It’s called Collision Websites and the owner is David Moore, a collision veteran who has helped countless shops to develop award-winning websites over the years. Now, he’s made the process of creating a site so easy that even shops that are dragging their feet can step up and have a website within hours, rather than weeks or even months.

His letter started out with some tough love questions, but very timely ones for body shops that don’t currently have websites and/or don’t see any value in them. His opening line immediately got my attention.

• Are you on the cutting-edge or about to get cut?
• As this industry gets younger and smarter, are you falling behind?

Working hard used to be the formula for success, but now technology has changed the game.

Did you know that nearly 9 out of 10 people requiring collision work will search the Internet to find someone to repair their vehicle?

Statistics show that 95% of all people in the United States expect a reputable business to have a website. Unless your customer base is made up of that non-tech 5%, you’re not impressing or even reaching most of your market. If you currently don’t have a website, you’re losing revenue while reading this. And even a lousy website could cost you even more.

So, for those who are still doubters, here are my main reasons for having a website:

1) Affordable
Websites are less expensive and can produce quality leads when compared to other forms of media. The Internet is a proven leader when it comes to cost per response. If you’re using a content management system such as Word Press, you can keep your website fresh and up-to-date by adding new content all the time. Because you’re big on the Internet doesn’t mean you should abandon other forms of advertising altogether. Print, radio, TV and direct mail advertising are still very strong when integrated into a media mix, and can be used to entice people to access your site and find out more about your shop. Think of a big hand with each finger representing one form of media, working in conjunction to reach customers and get cars in your shop.

2) Accessible
The Internet enables body shops to break through geographical barriers and become accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. With sites like Google Maps and MapQuest, the days of getting lost while attempting to find your shop is greatly diminished, even for the directionally challenged. We always suggest that you should have a map showing your shop displayed prominently on your home page containing directions and landmarks. Since body shops are brick and mortar businesses obviously, finding you is essential and making it as easy to your potential advertisers is key.

The evolution of websites has made the yellow pages and other phone directories fairly obsolete. In the old days, shops that had moved or added new locations were forced to wait until the phone books came out to tell the world where they are. Because a website is flexible, you can change the content as often as you like, which is ideal for shops that are moving or adding locations.

3) Convenient
It is far more convenient for a person to research a product on the Internet than it is to get in a car, drive somewhere and look for or ask someone for information on a product. They don’t have to call around or go to a library—it’s all there on their desk top, lap top or smart phone. The potential customer can visit your website whenever they want in their own privacy and comfort, without the stress and disruptions that exist in the real world. Your website is a self-service entity that can bring you customers while you sleep.

4) Valuable
Your website can deliver real value by offering a ton of valuable information, such as useful tips, sage advice and general interest content that can entertain and inform your customers. This will also help them to remember your name when they get in an accident. You can use features on your website such as visitor polls, online surveys and other things and then access your website statistics to find out what your customers like and don’t like. Website statistics show you how much traffic your website receives, how the visitor got to your website and where, geographically, the visitor is from.

5) Credible
A website offers you a forum to tell prospective new customers why you’re a solid company and thereby warrant their respect and adulation.

One of the best things about the Internet is that a little mom and pop shop can get as much exposure as a big chain with multiple locations. Solid shops doing exemplary work will always succeed—but by telling the world how good you are as often as you can, it surely does not hurt. If you’re not selling your brand 24/7, who will? By having a website that is full of content, simple to navigate through and easy to find, you’re instantly in the game and will be recognized as a player almost overnight. By having a presence online, you can take full advantage of all the advantages the Internet offers—and a good website is definitely the very first step.

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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