The Internet Age and the Automotive Repair IndustryPosted 1/13/2005
By Dave Henderson
Do you remember when fax machines were first introduced to your business? At first, it was rare to find someone with a fax. People would ask, "Do you have a fax machine?" But technology and services that are initially rare and unique have a way of becoming an expected capability in this business (how about laser measurement?). It wasn't too long after the fax machine was introduced that we no longer asked if the person had a fax machine, but rather "What is your fax number?" The Internet is no different. Now the question is, "What is your Web address?"
When I launched my company four years ago, I would ask potential clients if they had Internet access. Many said they didn't think so, but weren't completely sure. Four years later, most of the shops I encounter not only have Internet access but high-speed access. Now we have networks in our shops connecting all of our computers. We receive technical information through the Internet. We are ordering parts and materials. Our industry has come a long way in a short time, and it keeps moving forward.
The Internet has become a way of life in America. We use the Internet to shop, communicate, schedule, listen to music and get the latest news. We purchase new cars online, get technical information, do our banking, and the list is growing daily. You can even track your vehicle repairs online.
So maybe it's time to evaluate your Web presence. Clear your mind, and take a few moments to log on to your Web site and take a closer look. Look at it like you are one of your prospective customers. Is the information current? Is the Web site design pleasing to the eye, and is it easy to use and interactive? Are you using the latest technology in your Web site? Do you have an interactive map to your location? Can your customers schedule an appointment online? Does your Web site portray a professional description of your facility and the services you offer? Your customers are growing to expect that any reputable business will have a Web site with good information that is easy to access. Does your Web site stack up?
How about your e-mail address? Is it email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org? If you have a domain name and Web site, you must consider using it for your e-mail address. Dave@AutoWatch.com sounds much more professional than email@example.com. When you receive my e-mail, you also have my Web site address and can quickly see what my company is all about. If you use your domain name in your e-mail address, your contacts will see the location of your Web site each time you communicate.
It doesn't really matter what segment of this industry you are from, collision or mechanical - the Internet Age has arrived. We live in a time when it is expected that your business has a professional Web presence, and that you are capable of conducting business through the Internet. Technology is an awesome thing. It's exciting to think of what the future holds for us as our lives are affected each day by new technologies. Embrace them and improve your business. Ignore them, and you'll lag behind. You do have a fax machine, don't you?
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