Top 10 Automotive Repair Web SitesPosted 1/14/2003
By Colby horton
Sites were judged with specific criteria in mind. The nominated sites needed to have a pleasing appearance with professional graphics and easy navigation. We looked for basic information like services and business philosophy, but innovative trends such as online appointment scheduling, vehicle repair tracking and customer surveys made certain sites stand apart from others.
Each site was rated in five categories: design and graphics, content, speed, navigation and interactivity. It was a difficult task to narrow the field down to just a few nominees because there are so many innovative sites out there.
We are including a screen capture of the winners' home pages, along with a brief description of the site and comments from the shop. Be sure to visit each Web site to experience the effectiveness of the site and read the comprehensive information they have provided.
This site offers numerous interactive features that enhance the site's overall usability. Customers can schedule an appointment or estimate through the Web site's "Appointment Desk." A "Car Check" section allows customers to receive online updates on the status of their repairs, complete with photos and an estimated completion date. The "Contact Us" section features a professional "virtual business card," while the online customer feedback form makes it convenient to rate overall service encountered during the repair process. Business history, philosophy, affiliations and testimonials provide credibility to the shop's experience and workmanship.
Tony Tyrosvoutis, CEO, C.C.R.M.: I created my shop's Web site initially to expose my business to an emerging new way of media. Our current Web site, however, has developed into a means for our customers to follow the progress of repairs, gain knowledge of vehicle restoring methods, as well as a way to interact with us, thus giving them the sense of direct involvement with the repair process.
This site encompasses information about five different locations, providing maps, contact information and service offered for each location. An "Express Check-In" mechanism and diagnostic sheets allow customers to alleviate the hassle of checking in at a shop and ultimately saves the customer time. The Web site also thoroughly outlines the shops' 25-point Code of Ethics and Competency. Web coupons, warranty information and their customer service policy are also provided. Consumer tips and Frequently Asked Questions make the site informative for visitors. The site also offers an online employment application for various positions in the shops.
Jeffrey Peterson, president: Our Web site will soon become the focal point of our marketing program. It highlights the ways we differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Constant improvements are being made to our site to make it more interactive. The goal is to make it easy for our customers to communicate with us. The development of our site will continue to provide us with a quick and efficient way to respond, inform and educate our customers along with promoting Brandy's 'One Stop Repair Shop' image to both existing and potential customers.
One of the most unique features of this site is the "Ask a Technician" section. This section allows customers to pose a question to one of the shop's ASE-certified technicians, with replies provided within 48 hours. The site also offers visitors an automotive "Tip of the Month," as well as an archive of past tips. An online appointment scheduler makes it convenient to schedule a service appointment in advance. The site also includes interactive polls, an employment section complete with job descriptions, and a tire search mechanism. A complete list of services offered and when the services should be performed is also included within the site.
Eddie Butler, owner: Our Web site is a part of our marketing plan and we want to convey a clean, professional image in both our facility and in our marketing program. Our marketing focuses on service and convenience as opposed to price. We maintain that theme with our Web site. We are getting significant response to our "Ask a Tech" section, which helps us track our site's usage. Our Web site is a work in progress and will continue to change to meet the demands of our customers.
Ed Rosenburg, owner: We created our site to keep with our belief that you have to keep up with the new and everchanging auto repair industry in all aspects. A Web site allows customers to see your shop and read about the shop anytime. Our site also allows customers to make appointments and talk to us without using the phone. Our site is just one more way we show customers how modern our shop really is.
This site was a Top 10 recipient in 1999. Since then, the site has evolved into an interactive site, incorporating an appointment scheduler, employment and automotive classifieds and survey questions. Customers also have the option of opting into service reminders. These customers receive e-mails when it's time for routine vehicle maintenance. The Web site also features recall notices, providing customers with technical service bulletins for their vehicle. It also incorporates an "Ask a Tech" and "Links and Resources" section. In addition, the site publishes the benefits of servicing your vehicle at Hillmuth's on each page of the site.
Doug and Billy Hillmuth, owners: When we decided to update our informational Web site to an interactive Web site, we wanted a site that our customers would find to be not only easy to use, but very helpful to them for all their automotive driving needs. Our site is only part of our commitment to our customers to provide them true customer service.
Framed navigation and an appealing color scheme reinforce this site's
commitment to quality and professionalism. Quick load time makes content
conveniently accessible to visitors. The home page offers concise information with an appealing look. The site also offers a comprehensive service menu, an easy-to-read map and online coupons. In addition, this Web site also offers an "Ask a Tech" section.
David Williams, owner: I wanted to let our customers know more about us and the types of services we provide in the non-threatening, low-pressure atmosphere of their home or office. Even though we are in a town with a population of 385 people, the Internet is everywhere.
This site's simple, yet effective, layout and framed navigation, make it easy for consumers to find the information they need. The site offers a "Check your Vehicle" mechanism, complete with photos and an e-mail link to the service adviser. A shop tour is also offered online, providing information on the body shop, paint shop and front office. Customers can fill out a customer satisfaction survey online, as well as schedule a loaner vehicle through the Web site. In addition, Rodenhouse utilizes the latest encryption technology, making scheduling an appointment or estimate online secure.
Strictly BMW offers a multi-layered site, providing information for both the customers and BMW enthusiasts. The site offers a complete service menu that thoroughly explains various procedures involved in repairing a vehicle. Visitors to the site can also sign up for the "Bimmer Informer," an electronic newsletter that provides information on BMWs and ways to take care of their vehicle. Customer testimonials, photo gallery, videos and informative links definitely broaden the site's audience beyond the shop's customers. A large list of aftermarket products the shop offers is also available, complete with photos, pricing and specifications.
Ian Alexander, director of business development: We're very pleased with the warm response we've received from our latest version of Strictlybmw.com. Our goal was to offer customers more information about our shop, our services and our process while providing a resource to Puget Sound BMW owners looking for a quality repair facility. Our staff is very excited about the site's new e-commerce offering, which will be online in early 2003.
This site's appealing graphics, navigation and overall design are key to the professionalism the site conveys. The online appointment scheduler goes beyond asking contact information and drop off date. The scheduler also includes authorization for repairs and asks customers if they would like to take advantage of the shop's shuttle service. Customers can also print a troubleshooting worksheet prior to bringing their vehicle to the shop. Customer testimonials and seasonal tips are also published on the Web site. The site also incorporates a list of shop services, complete with brief descriptions of those services.
Bob Kary, owner: Perception is everything in automotive service. We want our customers to know we are serious about professional auto care. The Web site was intended to convey that idea. A presence on the Internet is essential in today's market.
This site's overall color scheme, navigation and quick load time contributed to its selection as a Top 10 Web site. The site is full of important information, including accident tips and shop tours. The tours include information on the body shop, paint shop and front office. A photo gallery illustrates before and after photos of various customer vehicles. Customers can also sign up for the Vehicle Internet Progress (V.I.P.) service. This service allows customers to track the status of their vehicle by using a special V.I.P. code. In addition, visitors to the Web site can take advantage of Internet specials.
Bill Schaffran, owner: Our customers and their cars are top priority at York Road Auto. That is why we teamed up with our friends at whatsmystatus.com and designed a Web site that is interactive. In three easy steps, our customers can view their car getting repaired. It also eliminates customers calling and asking when their car will be done. All they have to do is view yorkroadauto.com and get an update.
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