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Repair Shop Advice

Archive for the ‘Industry News’ Category

Why You Should Have Only One Website

December 14th, 2016

Many repair shop owners wonder if having more than one website will give them more chances to show up on search engines like Google.  While we wish that were true, unfortunately it isn’t. In fact, Google really doesn’t like it when you have multiple sites!  Here’s why:


  • Google wants to be accurate.  When a local car owner goes online and searches for vehicle repair, Google wants to provide that person with a list of shops it is certain are nearby and perform auto repair.  That means that, if there’s any conflicting information about your shop online, they might not include your shop in the list.  If your websites list different email addresses, reference the street slightly differently (St. versus Street) or even list your hours differently, Google will determine it’s not certain about all the facts of your shop and may not display it.  Having only one website makes it much less likely that any online information about your shop is contradictory.
  • Google wants to offer valuable content.  One way that Google determines whether to show a page is how popular it is.  When Google offers a search result that many people click, it’s much more likely to show that result for future users searching for a similar phrase.  Unfortunately, if you have two websites, you’re cutting your audience in half for each page, which means that neither will be as popular as they would be if only one of them was online.
  • Google wants to tie one business to one address. Consider this example:  you need an item from a store in town, but you don’t know where it is.  You know it only has one location, but everywhere you look, you see two locations listed.  There’s a good chance you’ll just try another store in town, where the location is more obvious. Google feels the same way about website addresses that you would in this example.  It wants to link one business to one web address unless the business has multiple locations.  If Google can’t figure out which website is the “official” one, it’s more likely to just return other businesses instead.

 

Rather than maintaining multiple websites from multiple vendors, let Repair Shop Websites bring its 14 years of auto repair website experience to your company!  Call us at 855-219-7506 or email us to learn more.

Why Community Involvement is Important for Your Automotive Repair Shop

December 12th, 2016

Customers have many options for automotive repair.  Dealerships’ service centers can establish a relationship with the customer while the car is under warranty, giving them a major advantage.  National franchises can throw hundreds of thousands of dollars into marketing and advertising.  Despite these advantages, most people in the US select a locally-owned independent automotive repair shop unless the car is under warranty.  Why?


One of the major reasons is that the employees at independent shops care more about their customers.   Customers feel like they’re treated better, dealt with fairly, and that their business is valued.  And while customers want to deal with shops that actually care about the customers around them, they also expect shops to care about the community around them.

This makes community involvement an important part of your marketing.  It’s also a great way to give back to the community that provides your business with the support it needs to thrive.  And while donating money to a local non-profit is a noble cause, you can also be more creative in how you help the community.  Here are a couple of examples of Repair Shop Websites customers who contribute to their community in interesting ways:

Youngsville Auto Care offers a new driver class, teaching community members how to maintain their vehicle, including tire changes, checking oil, what to do if a belt breaks, and other issues.  This class often attracts younger drivers, and can provide some peace of mind to parents who are adjusting to their kids being on the road alone for the first time.

Spear’s Auto Center supports 12 year old local bull rider Travis Wemberly, who won the World Final Junior title in December of 2015.  He’s won plenty of other titles too, including the National Reserve Champion – four times.  A thank you card from Travis is posted on their website!

If your business isn’t pursuing community involvement already, you probably won’t have to look too far to find a deserving cause in your community.  It will likely pay for itself many times over in the attention it brings.  And there are other benefits: studies show that employees are more productive when they are encouraged to support causes they care about, and as a member of the community, you’ll benefit as well!

We always encourage our customers to highlight their community involvement on their website. If you’d like us to help you demonstrate your community commitment on your website, please call us at at 855-219-7506 or email us.

Enhanced CAFE Standards Present Challenges, and Opportunities, to Independent Automotive Repair Shops

December 2nd, 2016

The EPA decided on November 30th that it intends to leave fuel economy standards in place for the 2022-2025 model year vehicles, beginning a process which will finalize these rules before President-elect Trump takes office.  Although Trump’s administration could issue a new rule that changes or reverses this decision, legislation requires he do so through a process that could take years.

The rules were left in place because the EPA believes the “standards are achievable with very low penetration of strong hybrids, electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.”  Those vehicles are coming to market regardless of their requirements, probably in higher numbers than the fuel economy standards would require.

Is your automotive shop prepared to deal with these vehicles?  It might not be worth your time to handle electric drivetrains now – plug-in cars are only one-tenth of one percent of the global market.  But with this number expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, electric vehicles could be a major niche market for independent repair shops a decade from now.  Off-warranty hybrid vehicle repair, meanwhile, could in many regions be a major source of income much sooner than plugins; over a half million hybrid cards were sold in the US in 2013 and 2014.

Whatever vehicles you service, a site from Repair Shop Websites will help you bring more of them into your shop!  Call us at 855-219-7506 or email Team_RSW@repairshopwebsites.com to learn how we can build a site designed to bring in your preferred vehicles and vehicle repairs!

Millennials and your Auto Repair Shop

November 14th, 2016

Earlier this year, Entrepreneur magazine ranked Millennials as the number one small business trend in 2016.  How is an entire generation a trend?  With the oldest millennials now in their early 30s, they are beginning to represent a large portion of the consumer base – and employee base – for most small businesses.  Every year, successful businesses will need to dedicate more focus towards their desires and interests.  And that’s as true for independent auto repair shops as any industry.

So what makes a Millennial a Millennial?  Here are three factors that Entrepreneur magazine argues are uniquely Millennial – and our take on what this means for your repair shop.

Millennials and Your Shop

“Millennials demand comprehensive leadership and opportunities for growth within every position they fulfill.”

One of the biggest complaints young technicians have against shops is that there are few training opportunities – tire techs get stuck fixing tires, without a lot of training opportunities provided.  They don’t have the opportunity to collaborate with Master Technicians.  Smaller shops, however, require employees to be more versatile – because at smaller shops, sometimes there aren’t any tires to change.  This means that younger techs will have opportunities to assist Master Technicians, which they wouldn’t have at dealerships.   If this sounds like your shop, make sure to highlight that in your job descriptions, as it can help attract hard-working young technicians that want to learn more advanced skills.

 

“For entrepreneurs from the millennial generation, the ability to rapidly spread information is key to successful marketing.”

It used to be the case that some businesses had an online presence, and some didn’t.  That’s generally not true anymore.  Some businesses manage their online presence, and others allow it to be controlled by everyone else – their customers, their competitors, and information brokers.

Even repair shops without a website have online reviews.  They may not know it, but their customers (and, in some cases, people who aren’t their customers but are pretending to be) are talking about them. Some of these views are positive and some are negative, but all provide an opinion to the world about whether they should visit the shop or not.

This makes it more important than ever to manage your online presence – to have professionals who know what’s being said about you, and helping you project the best possible image of your repair shop.  That’s because, if your image becomes negative while you aren’t around to combat it, it will take many months to address the damage that’s been done while you were absent.

 

“And because millennials place so much value on quality and ethics, they prefer to use technology to take care of the busywork.”

Millennials are accustomed to switching tasks very quickly.  The world moves faster to them than the rest of the population – they maintain communication with a larger group of people than ever before, thanks in part to social media.

With so many things competing for their attention, they aren’t willing to spend as much time on tasks and decisions as other people.  It’s possible they’ll select a shop in 3 minutes of online research – and they expect to be able to book an appointment 3 minutes after that.

This is why our websites make communication with your shop easy. We do this in a number of ways:

  • Phone numbers are placed very prominently on our sites, in part because of the number of users you lose after only ten seconds on your site!
  • Many of our customers take advantage of our online appointment request forms, because some customers prefer not to communicate via phone at all.
  • We also provide drop-off forms for shops that want to allow key drop-off before work.

 

To learn more about how to attract Millennials to your auto repair shop, call us at 855-219-7506 or email Team_RSW@repairshopwebsites.com

Five Tips to Turn First-time Customers Into Long-Term Customers

November 4th, 2016

Last week, we discussed the best ways to convert a shopper into a customer in a short phone call. (here’s a link to our infographic on the topic).  But it’s much more expensive to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one.  So once that customer decides to give your automotive repair shop a chance, how do you convert them into a long-term customer?

Here are five tips that will help your shop stand out in a sea of uncaring franchises and dealerships.

  • Be available. Customers want a hassle-free experience that fits into their schedule. If it’s a drop-off service, make sure to minimize the amount of time they wait before they are talking to someone who’s working to get their questions answered and get them out the door.  If it’s a longer repair that needs to be scheduled, give them several options, and make sure you’re giving them times when they can be a priority as soon as they show up.
  • Show sympathy. It’s nothing personal, but unless they’re dropping their car off for a detail, they’re probably not happy to be in your repair shop. Best case scenario, they’ve shown up for routine maintenance like an oil change or new tires, and they’re spending time and money they’d prefer to use elsewhere.  If it was an unplanned repair, their entire day probably just got wrecked by their vehicle. When you’re dealing with customers like this, ask yourself what would be the best thing that could happen to you if you were in their shoes, and try to offer it.  Maybe they need a referral for a rental car that can come pick them up, or you have a loaner you could offer them.  Maybe they’d appreciate it if you could offer them some certainty as to what the problem is or how long they’ll be out of a vehicle.  Even acknowledging how frustrating it is for that to happen can make them feel better.  It’s uncommon to get great service like this these days – those conversations stick out in a customer’s mind.
  • When telling the customer about any unexpected repairs that need to be made, make sure to mention things that are in good shape, and other things that may need to happen later but you wouldn’t recommend yet.  This indicates that you’re not trying to find every possible thing wrong with the car and get them to fix it today.  It also makes them feel less like their car is ‘bad luck’, which can cause frustration that they might take out on the nearest person (that’s you).
  • When recommending unexpected auto repairs, also make it clear you know it’s a surprise and you want to be as transparent as possible. Offer to show them the issue on their vehicle.  If there’s another vehicle in the shop where you can show them what it should look like, show them that too.  If it’s a serious issue, indicate that, but take extra effort not to come off as pushy, especially on their first visit to your shop.
  • Meet your price and time estimates. A shop being able to meet their price and time estimates is not just a sign they are honest and customer-focused. It also means that a shop can accurately diagnose a problem, how long a car will be ‘in line’ and how long it will take to fix.  If you run into ‘unexpected delays’, customers might wonder why you weren’t expecting them. That being said, no shop can meet their estimates 100% of the time.  Sometimes digging further into a problem reveals more problems.  Sometimes part suppliers are flaky.  If you are unable to get the vehicle back to a customer when they were expecting it, apologize, acknowledge the impact that’s going to have on them, and work with them to make sure they aren’t left stranded.

To learn about how Repair Shop Websites can help you better serve your shop’s customers, call us at 855-219-7506 or email us at Team_RSW@repairshopwebsites.com.

Three Threats to Independent Automotive Shops’ Relevance – And How to Stay Ahead of Them

October 21st, 2016

Automobiles have been the primary mode of transportation in the United States for nearly a century – but that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been big changes in that time.  Changes to any industry bring threats and opportunities.

Independent repair shops, in particular, face unique threats because there’s always an incentive for the companies that manufacture vehicles to try to cut them out of the industry, taking that repair revenue for themselves or their franchisees.  Here are three threats that independent automotive shops are already facing, but will become more intense over the next decade.

technology and independent repair threats

 
Threat #1 – Manufacturer ownership of telematics system data.

Independent shops are always fighting to maintain access to the information they need to repair vehicles, from repair codes to installation diagrams.  Vehicle telematics systems present the most recent informational threat to independent shops.  The most modern vehicles can self-report many repair needs directly to the manufacturer, who can them forward that information to the dealership where the vehicle was last serviced.  That dealership then contacts the customer to schedule an appointment, cutting out independent shops entirely.

This makes it more important than ever to establish a relationship of trust with your customers before they move to one of these new vehicles.  Make sure you retain the technical expertise to repair modern vehicles, and as customers near a new purchase, remind them that you are happy to help them more affordably once the vehicle is no longer warrantied.  If you know they’re looking at one of these vehicles, offer a free inspection or two while the vehicle is under warranty, so they can take their vehicle back to the dealership for free repairs before their warranty expires.  Ultimately, when the dealership calls and tells them they’re due for maintenance that will be invoiced, you want them to say “thanks for the notification, I’ll call my own mechanic and get it done”.

Recommendation: Build relationships with your customers that are powerful enough to withstand the effort to cut your shop out of the repair business.  Also, keep up-to-date on the Auto Care Association’s efforts to gain independent repair shop access to this telematic information.
 
Threat #2 – Technician Shortage

We discussed the difficulty of hiring techs recently and also provided some tips on attracting great technicians.  This challenge is only going to get worse, as fewer and fewer high-schoolers consider skilled trades despite relatively strong pay for these careers.

The problem finding new technicians is going to be compounded by the cost of maintaining the knowledge base of your existing technicians.  While there has been a shift in web-based training in the past few years due to scheduling convenience and affordability, there’s now a slight trend back towards in-person training because systems are becoming too complex for a quick video and web-based quiz to suffice.  Small shops will find it especially difficult to retain a strong knowledge base across so many different vehicle systems and vehicle manufacturers, as they can’t spread this knowledge across a half-dozen mechanics.  If you get behind the curve on this training, catching up will be even more difficult than staying up to speed.

Recommendation: Establish an expectation that your technicians keep current on vehicle technology, maintenance and repair, and make sure you’re providing them with the time and resources to meet that expectation.
 

Threat #3 – Electric Vehicles

Doomsayers have been predicting the end of the internal combustion engine at least since the release of GM’s first electric vehicle in 1996.  They’ve been wrong for 20 years, and they’ll be wrong for 20 more.

But there are going to be many, many more electric cars on the road in 20 years than there are today.  How many?  Audi predicts 25% of all US sales will be electric by 2025, and Honda says 66% of all models will plug in by 2020.  It’s not just goodwill – battery prices have dropped from $1,000 to less than $400 per kilowatt hour in the last five years, and electric vehicles are slowly becoming the most affordable way to meet ever-more-stringent fuel economy standards worldwide.

As gas vehicles get replaced with electric ones, independent automotive shops without the ability to service these vehicles will find fewer and fewer customers.  However, independent shops that can repair these vehicles will be well-positioned to grab market share.  The labor rates will likely be higher, too – this market will be much less competitive than repair and maintenance of traditional gas-only vehicles, simply because fewer shops will be able to do it.

Recommendation: Make sure you’re up-to-date on electric vehicle purchase rates in your area in the coming years.  When they start climbing, make sure your shop, and your technicians, gain the knowledge and certifications to service them before the majority of them are out-of-warranty!

 

Repair Shop Websites is here to keep your shop up-to-date on all the latest marketing trends as well. If you’d like to us to take a look at your website and provide some suggestions on how to improve its results, give us a call at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@repairshopwebsites.com.

Measuring Website Return on Investment

October 17th, 2016

If you’ve owned or managed a shop for more than ten minutes, you’ve probably had a salesperson call you and tell you how much business they can get you with one of their websites.  It’s a fair point – if a person doesn’t already have a shop picked out, most people look online to find shops these days.  But a few minutes into the conversation, they start telling you how they’re going to prove results – website ‘hits’.  They offer to show you regularly just how many people are visiting your website.  If this is their idea of return on investment, this is a red flag.

Why?  Let’s take a look at the value of a website ‘hit’.

They may call it a ‘visit’ but that’s not entirely accurate.  That’s because, half of all ‘visits’ to your website are just other computers that are taking a look at the material.  Search engines like Google must visit your website often, for instance, to make sure they know what content is there and can direct their users to your site. Furthermore, if you run a shop in Wisconsin, how useful is it really that someone in South Carolina visited your site?  In most cases, not at all.  Unfortunately, the majority of ‘hits’ your website gets provide no value to you at all.

A website cannot prove a return on investment based on how many visits the site gets.  True ROI comes from a customer visiting your shop.  Here are a few ways to know your site is providing a good return.

Coupons – Some shop owners prefer not to use coupons, but if you do, it’s a great barometer for where your business is coming from.  Collecting the coupons used by your customers, and matching them up with where they found the coupon, is a great way to measure what’s bringing in business.

Phone Calls – One of our website packages includes Call Analytics – a special phone number only located on your website that is tracked and recorded.  In addition to allowing you to analyze your customer service, this also enables you to see how many customers are going to your website and calling your shop each month.  By listening to the calls, you can even figure out exactly how much money those calls brought into your shop!

Online Quote Requests – Although our sites are designed to encourage customers to contact you via phone (as that leads to a higher close rate) we also provide online forms for customers who prefer to make requests this way.  Much like the phone calls, each of these forms tells you what service the customer is seeking, allowing an easy calculation of ROI.

Asking Your Customers – One way to figure out where customers heard about you is to ask!  Be careful with this one, though.  They may have gotten your name from a friend, but then gone online to learn more about you and find out your location.  Without the site, it’s possible they would have never found you.  So, in addition to asking how they heard about you, make sure to ask if they visited your website for directions or to learn more.

To learn more about how to measure your website ROI, call us at 1-866-665-1605 or email Team_RSW@repairshopwebsites.com

SEO Vs SEM: Deconstructing the Jargon

October 7th, 2016

It’s easy to get lost in all of the jargon in digital marketing.  One good example: there are two different ways to “search well” on Google.  Like many choices in life, one works quickly, and one works well.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM), also called Pay-Per-Click (PPC), can put you at the very top of Google, very quickly.  As that second name implies, however, you pay Google each time someone clicks on that link to your website.  If you need to get some website visitors fast, SEM will probably get that for you.  But it’s not as great as it sounds.  Consider these facts:

  • This gets very expensive, very quickly: In addition to bidding on keywords, you set a daily or weekly campaign limit.  When you spend that amount, your links disappear.  It’s very easy to spend many thousands of dollars of month if you’re not careful.
  • Someone needs to manage this campaign at least once a week: With SEM, you’re bidding for your position on Google – the highest bidder wins. Like any marketplace, you’re competing against other people, who change their prices each day.  If you don’t manage your bids, you can disappear quickly.
  • Website traffic isn’t repair shop traffic: You’ll pay every time someone clicks the advertising link on Google – probably several dollars per click.  But just because they visit your website doesn’t mean they’ll call your shop.  For that, you’ll need a great website.
  • You pay for all clicks on the advertising link. Half of all clicks on mobile phones are accidental. If you have a smart phone, you’ve probably tried to scroll and clicked on an ad yourself – and someone paid for that click.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is different from Search Engine Marketing.  With SEO, you’re simply building a site that provides information Google thinks will be valuable to its users.  Over a matter several weeks, Google will see that you site has useful material, and your site will move towards the top of results.

You’ll never get to the very top of the results – that’s reserved for ads – but most people scroll past these results anyway.  That’s not surprising when you think about it; who doesn’t fast forward through advertisements in this day and age?

Instead, your page will show up just below the map section of Google – where most people instinctively scroll to find Google’s best results.  And if you’ve got some great shop reviews on Google, you may even show up on the map as well!


Although it does take a few weeks to grow into great results with SEO, it has several advantages.  Among them:

  • You’re not paying for every visit: Google isn’t showing your site to collect money. It’s showing your site because it’s what its users want to see.  That means you won’t pay Google every time someone visits you.
  • SEO has long-term results: With Search Engine Marketing, your site disappears as soon as you stop paying for every single visit. With Search Engine Optimization, your site will stay near the top of the results as long as it’s providing good information for Google users.
  • SEO has better results: While Search Engine Marketing can provide some quick results, you’ll get more results overall from Search Engine Optimization. Nine out of ten clicks on the first page in Google are outside of the ads section – those are all going to Search Engine Optimization.

Ultimately, the internet is not any different than Television, Newspaper, or any other media, when it comes to advertising.  You’ll get much better results from being in the news than you will from being in an advertisement between the news stories.

To learn more about what your shop needs to be successful online, call us at 1-866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@repairshopwebsites.com.

Trouble Hiring Automotive Techs? You’re Not Alone!

September 30th, 2016

It’s getting harder and harder to attract technicians. We hear this from our customers all the time, so we decided to dig a little deeper into the problem. Our goal: to determine the source of the problem, so we could offer some suggestions on how to address it.


We found three major reasons that hiring is so difficult:

#1 – A study by tools manufacturer RIDGID in late 2014 found that only 6% of high school students hope to have a career in the skilled trades.  That six percent has to be split between plumbing, HVAC repair, welding, and countless other skilled trade professions – along with all of the automotive repair facilities in the United States.

This is leading to a shortage in skilled automotive technicians entering the field.  Worse, it’s indicative of a continuing challenge going forward, as older technicians retire and fewer young ones have an interest in replacing them.

#2 – Auto technicians are much more likely to be happy with their current job than most other people.  A payscale study way back in 2008 found that auto technicians were ranked the 8th happiest employees, and many of the jobs with happier employees were jobs of passion, like Clergy, Professional Actors and Special Education Teachers.  Even today, Auto Mechanics, on average, report being “very happy” with their jobs – much happier than most other employees.

This makes it difficult to attract great technicians to your shop.   Difficult however, does not mean impossible.  A previous post provides an infographic with suggestions on how to attract skilled technicians to your independent auto repair shop, and we’ll be covering these techniques more in future posts.

#3 According to a 2015 Manpower Group study, Skilled Trades Workers were the most difficult jobs to fill globally for the fourth year in a row.  They were also the most difficult jobs to fill in the US.  The second most difficult job to fill in the US was a technician role; these are defined as production/operations, engineering, and maintenance roles.  Collectively, these two job types describe the type of person you’re looking to hire for your shop.

If you’ve been wondering if all shops are having the same problems as yours – unfortunately, they are.  That makes it more important than ever that you’re giving your hiring efforts the time and energy they deserve.  If you’re hiring, that’s probably because you’re short-staffed – that means you’re probably already working overtime just to keep things running.  But it’s impossible to have a high-performing shop without great technicians.  Just a few months of staff shortage can really damage your reputation, both to customers and prospective employees. 

Stay tuned for more information on how to attract and hire great technicians, or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com and ask us for the link to our most recent webinar about the topic.

The Importance of Website Content

September 15th, 2016

In an earlier blog post, we discussed how your website visitors will generally decide whether it’s worth staying on your page in 10 seconds or less.  If you’ve heard this before, you might be thinking that the most important things on your website are those on the screen when the website first loads – and you would be correct.  It’s imperative that customers can immediately figure out what services you offer, where you’re located and how to contact you.

You might also be thinking that there’s little value in having pages and pages of website content if people make decisions so quickly – surprisingly, that’s not accurate.  There are two major reasons it helps to have a site that is full of automotive service content.

#1 – Getting Found Online

Your customers might need your service, but they’re unlikely to hear about you until they search for auto repair shops nearby and Google returns your site. Because of this, what matters to Google is often even more important than what matters to your customers.

If a customer in Charleston, South Carolina needs their brakes replaced, they may search for “auto repair Charleston”, and your home page will be among the returned results.  But they may also search for “brake pad replacement nearby” or “squealing brakes 29401”.  In these cases, Google wants to send these customers to a page that talks about brake pad replacement, or the sound they’re having.

If your website has pages focused on providing this information, your shop’s website is going to be one of the first results returned in Google.  To truly perform its best, your site needs pages of content for any of the phrases that people search for when their car isn’t performing well.  This content is the difference between being seen occasionally in a Google search, and being seen by almost everyone that could use your services..

#2 – A Professional Image

Once people decide that your company is worth further consideration in those first ten seconds, they may go explore your website for more information.  If there are only a few short pages on the site, they may not leave convinced that you can do exactly the repair they need.  But if you go into detail on how brakes work and all of the brake repairs your shop offers, they’ll be much more likely to assume you certainly have their problem covered, and put you on their short list.

It’s important to note that potential customers might decide whether to stay on your site in 10 seconds or less, but they might not make the final decision of who to call until they do some more research.  In order to make a customer’s short list, you’ll need to pass both the “first-scan” test and have enough information about their specific problem to seem like a reputable option to get it fixed right the first time.

To learn more about what types of content you need on your site to maximize the number of leads you receive, call us at 1-866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@repairshopwebsites.com.