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  Net Worth

Posted 7/9/2004
By Colby Horton

Shop Site of the Month

Hank and Son's Auto Service Inc. - Feasterville, Pa.
www.hankandsonsauto.com

shop site

This site incorporates the latest technology throughout various sections. Customers may schedule an appointment directly from the site and view specials catered specifically to online visitors. Customers may also use a special login page that allows them to view their vehicle and maintenance history. Sophisticated navigation, color scheme and professional graphics make this site among the best.


Web Wise

Redesigning Your Shop's Web Site - Part 5

During the past few months, Net Worth has spent some time outlining the process of redesigning your shop's Web site. We've discussed organization, navigation and content. It's now time to start putting the final touches on your new site.

In redesigning your site, you have to remember one of the primary goals of the Internet - communication. All the steps discussed thus far in this series have focused on how you, the shop owner, can communicate your message to visitors to your site. But a Web site should involve two-way, interactive communication. So as your redesign process comes to an end, don't forget about your visitors' communication needs.

If you have no other communication tool on your site, make sure your shop's contact information is visible on every page. This should include address, phone number and e-mail address. This contact information conveys trust and should be accessible on every page within your site.

You should also consider implementing some type of response form within your site. This type of form allows visitors to input their information, including any comments or suggestions, and submit them to the shop directly from the shop's Web site. Advanced programmers know how easy it is to set up this type of communication tool. However, if you are the person redesigning your site, type "form to e-mail programs" in search engines and see if you can access a free script you can employ within your site.

You may also want to implement some type of instant messaging system within your site. Major instant messaging programs such as AOL, Yahoo and MSN are free to download and can easily be implemented into your shop's site. For more information on implementing instant messaging into your shop's Web site, read the October 2003 Net Worth column, which is accessible through AutoInc. Online (www.autoinc.org).

Another key communication tool is an online appointment scheduler. Providing visitors the opportunity to schedule service online is a great tool and should drum up extra business for your shop. Companies such as OnStation (www.onstation.com), CarTrak Online (www.cartrak.com) and Easy Appointment Systems (www.easyappt.com) can help you implement appointment schedulers within your site.

One last communication tool to consider is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). Such lists often cut down on customer phone calls and provide a great sense of credibility for your shop.

Next month, we'll conclude this series by discussing how to conduct usability tests.

Net Numbers

Seventy-three percent of American adults use computers regularly and 65 percent have bought products online.

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

ASA Web Ways

Online Registration for CARS 2004 Now Available

Online registration for the Automotive Service Association's 2004 Congress of Automotive Repair and Service (CARS) is now available on the CARS Web site (www.CARSonline.org). Register using a secure Web site and alleviate the hassle of filling out forms by hand and returning them by mail. In addition to online registration, the CARS Web site contains the latest information about this year's event, including a complete schedule of events, information about technical and management courses, and speakers.

Hot Sites

It's Summer Vacation Time!
Expedia: www.expedia.com
Hotels.com: www.hotels.com
Priceline.com: www.priceline.com
Travelocity: www.travelocity.com
Trip Advisor: www.tripadvisor.com
Vacation.com: www.vacation.com

Colby Horton Net Worth is written by Colby Horton, ASA's electronic communications manager. He can be reached at (800) 272-7467, ext. 234, or by e-mail at colbyh@asashop.org.


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