Top 10 Automotive Repair Web SitesPosted 1/16/2004
By Colby horton
AutoInc. is proud to present the recipients of its seventh annual Top 10 Automotive Repair Web Sites. After viewing hundreds of Web sites found in search engines, links from other sites and shop sites found in the "Find Nearest ASA Shop" section of the ASA Web site, nominees were chosen and submitted to the AutoInc. staff for review.
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 offered and easy-to-find contact information. But innovative trends such as online appointment scheduling, vehicle repair tracking, customer surveys and interactive features made certain sites stand apart from others.
Each site was rated in five different categories: design and graphics, content, speed, navigation and innovation. It was a difficult task to narrow the field down to just a few nominees because there are so many good sites out there. But our goal is to help other shops find their niche on the World Wide Web and give them excellent examples of what fellow shop owners are doing with their sites.
We are including a screen capture of the winners'
home pages, along with a brief description of each 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 is designed for customer convenience. Among the site's many innovative features is the "Check Your Vehicle" section. Customers are provided with a unique identification number that allows them to view photos of their vehicle throughout the repair process. The "Shop Tour" section allows visitors to see the inside of various sections of the shop and read about Cascade Auto Body's credentials. A comprehensive "Frequently Asked Questions" section and interactive customer survey allows visitors to find the answers they need and provide the shop with important input.
Dawn Mabie, vice president/general manager: We created our site with the help of 'Autowatch.' We wanted it to be an informative tool as well as an active site. Now our customers can log on and get all the info they need about their car as well as services we offer. We are proud of what we do and have nothing to hide. It's all about building integrity for our industry.
This site's easy navigation, simple design and color scheme convey a sense of professionalism about the shop. The "Did You Know?" graphic on the home page changes each time a visitor enters the site, providing a dynamic and informative experience on the initial entrance of the site. The "Ask Matt" section gives visitors a venue to pose questions to the shop's owner relating to automotive repair. Online coupons and an opt-in e-mail list provide visitors with cost-saving opportunities. Customer testimonials and a thorough "About Us" section exhibit the overall credibility of the shop.
Laura Weber, co-owner: The launching of clarkscarcare.com was just one step toward our goal of communicating to the public that getting your car serviced can be a positive experience. In an effort to retain a loyal customer base and improve the independent automotive industry's image, our shop has focused on 'above and beyond' customer service ethics based on honesty and respect and keeping up with the latest technology. Our Web site was designed to convey this philosophy to both new and current customers. We are constantly updating the site and plan to add many new features in 2004.
One of the most unique features of this site is the "Ask a Technician" section. This Web site's fun graphics and design make it appealing to
the visitor. Customers and potential customers can visit the site, fill out a simple form and receive an approximate estimate for repair via e-mail. Customers can also request an appointment online directly from the Web site. Two-designed "Services" sections outline both the collision and mechanical services the shop offers in a concise and easy-to-find manner. Internet coupons and "Car Care Tips" add to this site's overall value.
Edward Guerra, president: We developed our Web site to keep up with today's ever-changing trends. We will do whatever it takes to please and accommodate our customers! Our Web site conveys to the viewer all of our services in a nutshell, and is simple to use. Our site markets honesty, family, credibility and education. The site reaches the viewer to let them know we are a 'one stop shop.' The Internet is a great vehicle to take without even starting your engine!
This site's home page and color scheme make a statement of professionalism. Both customers and insurance agents can monitor the progress of vehicle repair using unique identification numbers through the shop's Web site. Customers can also request an online estimate or schedule a rental car from the site. A customer survey and all-inclusive list of frequently asked questions are added incentives to visit the Web site. A virtual shop tour gives a perspective of the shop's capabilities to prospective customers.
Russell Swift, owner: The biggest benefit we see from our Web site is that it allows updates and vehicle-specific information to be posted in one location for the owner, insurance company and rent-a-car company to view.
We can simply direct all inquiries to the one source, which helps cut down on phone calls for every interested party involved. Our clients get to see how involved and technical the repair process has become. I received an e-mail from a claim representative last week who said our Web site was an invaluable tool and resource!
This site presents concise information on its home page, including a link to a customer satisfaction survey, a glimpse of services offered, an opt-in e-mail list and a link to "Tell a Friend" about the site. Customers can schedule service online at one of the shop's three locations as well as receive driving directions to each. The site also publishes several Internet coupons and car care tips. An employment section allows a potential employee to complete his or her resume online.
Alex Ahmed, president: When we put our Web site together, we wanted it to be user friendly and get out as much information about our company and our locations as possible. The car care tips is a great idea that a friend asked us to do and we have had nothing but compliments on it. We have made it quite easy to be contacted for questions and to set up appointments. Another great thing that has come in handy is the employment application we have on the Web. We have received applications from all over.
The Fox Collision Web site has many attributes that make it among the best in the industry. The framed navigation scheme is well organized and unique in the way it presents information. Customers can track the repair process of their vehicles through the Web site, and insurance agents can log on to a secure page within the site for more information on clients' vehicles. An online appointment scheduler makes it convenient for customers to schedule an appointment anywhere at anytime. A virtual shop tour and customer survey make the site informative and interactive. The shop's television commercial is even online for visitors to view.
Todd Fox, president: We created the Web site to be interactive, utilizing technology to benefit the customer by providing updates as well as an easy conduit to e-mail directly to the service advisors. Our Web site has proven to be an effective tool time and time again. Fox Collision practices the highest standard and our customer satisfaction proves it.
This site's home page, along with its easy navigation and
professional graphics, shows the professionalism of the site. The information presented on the home page displays the integrity and credibility of the shop immediately upon entering the Web site. An opt-in list is provided, allowing customers to receive specials and newsletters via e-mail. The site also provides a venue for customers to manage their service history through a secure section within the company's Web site. An online appointment scheduler, the ability to ask a question online, and the capability to e-mail content of specific pages within the site to a friend keep this Web site on the cutting edge.
Bob Waeiss, owner: I feel we are a progressive shop and we don't shy away from new technology. The Web site was a logical move to stay current. While it can provide benefits to our customers such as scheduling appointments and communicating with us, most still prefer the phone or face-to-face contact. We do encourage the use of e-mail to communicate with our customers, and as our e-mail list builds, it provides us with another marketing tool through our Web site.
The graphics incorporated in this Web site truly help it stand out. The subtle use of flash animation and consistent graphics throughout the site help tie each page together. An online appointment scheduler provides convenience for customers. Each page contains "Points to Remember" that present a quick glimpse of the shop's features and services. A comprehensive warranty description, "About Us" section, virtual tour and driving directions to the shop make this site informative to its visitors.
Glen Muehlstein, body shop director: We created our Web site to allow potential customers an in-depth view of our shop. We want to make sure people understand that they are getting quality workmanship in a state-of-the-art facility. Our soon-to-be-added feature will allow customers to see their automobile progress through the entire repair process. It is our goal to provide top quality tools, not only for our technicians, but also for our customers during an inconvenient time.
This site won the Top 10 award in part because of the innovative trends implemented within the site. The "Car Care Tip of the Day" rotates every time a user visits the site. Customers can schedule an appointment online and create a personal car care page that allows them to keep up with the service history of their vehicle. A comprehensive service menu includes payment options and ongoing specials. The graphics on this site are simple, yet effective, making load time of this Web site minimal.
Steve Schweitzer, owner/manager: I decided we needed a Web presence a few years ago as we are in an area of metro Atlanta that is very technology driven and quite a bit of our customers are in the high tech field. Our Web site has proven to be very popular with customers as quite a few like the online appointments. I think having a Web site gives credibility to our business as well.
The home page of this site is organized nicely, implementing a unique navigation scheme with a quick glimpse of what the shop offers. Testimonials add credibility to the shop's workmanship. Customers can also request an appointment from the shop's Web site. The "Ask Archie" section allows customers to submit questions about the repair process of their vehicle. Shop newsletters, an online survey, Internet coupons and shop news are all catered specifically to customers who visit their site. The company also implemented an opt-in mailing list for customers who wish to receive specials, coupons and news via e-mail.
Archie McCormick, president: My wife, Marilyn (who was instrumental in getting the Web site up and running), and I decided to have the Web site created so our customers could have a better understanding of some of the services we offer. We also want to make it easier for our customers to make appointments and take advantage of specials and discounts we offer. We would like to grow the use of our site to include our newsletters and most of our advertising.
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