Top 10 Automotive Repair Web SitesPosted 1/13/2005
By Colby horton
AutoInc. is proud to present the recipients of its eighth annual Top 10 Automotive Repair Web Sites. After reviewing 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 based on certain criteria. 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.
Since its inception, AutoInc.'s annual Top 10 Automotive Repair Web Sites feature has been a guide to help shop owners understand the capabilities of the Internet in the automotive repair sector. We want to help other shops find their niche on the World Wide Web and give them examples of what fellow shop owners are doing with their sites.
We are including a screen capture of each winner's home page, along with a brief description of the site and comments from the shop. The screen captures don't do the sites justice. Be sure to visit each Web site to experience the effectiveness of the site and read the information the shop has provided.
Catering a Web site for both collision and mechanical customers is a difficult endeavor. Addison Automotive does just that, showcasing a Web site designed specifically for each sector of its business. The site's navigation is easy to use and remains consistent on every page. A simple yet unique repair status function allows both collision and mechanical customers to check the status of their vehicles through the Web site. Customers can also request an appointment using a convenient online form. Interactive service menus and a comprehensive list of resources and links make this site informative. Visitors can also view online specials and subscribe to Addison's electronic newsletter through the shop's Web site. Staff profiles and employment opportunities make this site an excellent recruitment tool as well.
Brenda Addison, vice president: "We created our Web site for the community, and for current and potential employees and customers to know more about us. Shop owners have their own philosophy on marketing, but our 'Specials' button gets the word out! You can cheaply and quickly broadcast online promotions to help pick up sales during slow periods. A Web site is helpful in attracting good quality employees to your organization. We found ourselves dragging our feet about building a Web site, but to meet today's business demands, there isn't a choice."
This Web site offers an attractive home page complete with seasonal specials and the latest shop news. The "Ask Alex" section allows visitors to pose questions on a wide variety of topics concerning automotive repair and maintenance. A detailed list of services created in the form of questions provides a unique view of the importance of services offered by the shop. Visitors can also request an estimate using a comprehensive online diagnostic form. An employment section allows the shop to post job openings, and prospective employees can submit their resumes. A professional navigation scheme and graphics throughout make this site an apt fit for this year's Top 10 award.
Alex Siegel, president: "I created my Web site to communicate better with my customers. Because of e-mail, the Internet is the way to communicate nowadays. Also, some people are gun-shy and do not like to talk directly to people. My Web site is popular in my state, and I get a lot of inquiries from out of state as well. I think my site is successful because it shows technology and innovation. I am always up-to-date with technology because I believe it is necessary to give customers the best service."
This site offers an abundance of quick information on its home page. The dynamically organized navigation scheme allows for easy access to all sections within the vast Web site. Visitors can click on the "Ask an Expert" graphic and ask questions ranging from general automotive repair to specific diagnostic help. Customers can make an appointment online and recommend a friend to visit the site, making this Web site truly interactive in nature. Current customers can also access their vehicle's service records or sign up for service reminders directly from the Clintonville Automotive Web site. The ability to download the shop's newsletter, view the latest news, and access car care tips and links make this site useful.
Ron Stein, president: "We created our site with the help of a professional to meet the needs of our customers. Even though 60 percent of our customer base is within a 10-mile radius, we saw the ever-growing use of the Internet by the average consumer, and we knew we must stay in the lives of our customers. We had three main purposes in mind when developing the site. First, to allow customers to schedule service appointments online; second, to communicate with us about the progress of repairs and ask general questions; and third, to keep them up-to-date with news and information about our company in general."
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 complex repair process. Prospective customers can also acquire estimates by completing an online form. If customers need a rental car, they can arrange for one through the shop's Web site. A list of frequently asked questions gives customers peace of mind before they bring their vehicles into the shop. An interactive customer survey provides the shop with important input from vehicle owners. Virtual tours of the body shop, paint shop and office area allow visitors to read about Collision Care's credentials and services.
Mike Brannon, owner: "Autowatch helped me create our Web site to enhance customer service and to use as a marketing tool. Our customers like being able to view the repairs. Some have been so happy they allow us to post the final picture with them in it! Thanks to the guys at Autowatch; they did an awesome job!"
This Web site's concise home page offers professional graphics and a company-branded navigation scheme. An online appointment scheduler offers convenience to the site visitor. A well-designed consumer tips section makes this site informative. The site also incorporates online specials as an added incentive for customers to visit often. A complete service menu makes it easy to find the shop's overall capabilities. Customer testimonials, linked throughout the site, add credibility to the shop's overall image. The "Company" section includes the shop's mission statement, history and employment opportunities. Community Car Care also incorporates an e-mail list to notify customers who sign up about shop specials.
Bill Spencer, president: "Our Web site is just one part of a larger branding and proactive marketing program that we launched this year. Not only do our customers get to know more about us as a company and the services we offer, they can keep coming back for various coupons and seasonal specials. To add value to a customer's experience with your shop, there needs to be a reason for that customer to come back for more. Our regularly rotated coupon specials and the online appointment page provide the motivation for our customers to come back, which we feel is the reason our Web site is so successful."
This site is truly one of the best in regard to innovation and interactivity. The site has incorporated a "Personal Car Care Portal," allowing current customers to log in to the site and access their vehicle history, receive e-mail service reminders and check the status of the vehicle during the repair process. Customers can also schedule an appointment directly from the shop's Web site. An online customer survey provides immediate feedback to the shop once a customer's vehicle is complete. Online specials keep current customers coming back to the site, while the "Services" and "Company" sections educate prospective customers about the shop.
Henry Gruenwald, president: "Due to new technology trends, we felt it was important to have a Web presence for visibility, credibility and enhanced customer service. We want our current and potential customer base to be able to locate us easily, since the Internet is quickly replacing the Yellow Pages. Once implemented, we found that we could use the site to reach our current customers and offer more services to make their experience with our shop more valuable to them. Our customers can now make appointments and communicate with us conveniently 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our customers have really responded overwhelmingly to these services, and some now make their appointments exclusively online."
This site's clean design, navigation and color scheme gives it a professional look and feel. The "News & Links" section of the home page keeps visitors abreast of important shop news, adding a sense of timely material. Visitors can also submit an electronic quote request form from the shop's Web site, allowing Jeffrey's Auto Body personnel to contact prospective customers. Vehicle owners can track the progress of repairs by entering a unique account number. A "Consumer Rights" section emphasizes the shop's commitment to the motoring public. An in-depth "Warranty" section answers any questions a customer or potential customer may have regarding repairs. A well-written "About Us" section adds to the professionalism of this site.
Jeff Lyman, president: "Being a non-insurance-affiliated shop, the content of our Web site is geared toward consumer awareness and their rights. We have found a great marketing tool with our RTS system, where consumers can track the repairs or e-mail us with concerns. We are adding an additional site soon that will be handling our growing conversion business."
This site's home page, with its organization and color scheme, demonstrates the overall professionalism of the entire site. A list of services and full explanation of the shop's warranty program allow the Web site to showcase the shop's overall capabilities. Online coupons keep the site looking fresh while enticing visitors to return at a later date. Visitors may conveniently schedule an appointment through the Web site's appointment scheduler. A list of links and affiliations accompany every page within the site. An interactive map to the shop allows visitors to zoom in and out on the shop's location, helping customers easily find the repair facility.
Mark L. Wendt, president: "I created this Web site because I am always trying to stay on the leading edge of technology in the auto repair business. My shop is in a fairly new, well-equipped and clean building, and I feel that a quality Web site adds to the image we are trying to portray. Many of today's customers really want to get information about us and many people like to set appointments through the Web site."
The overall look of this shop's Web site is appealing, using a pleasing color scheme and fun navigation. The site also incorporates a Vehicle Internet Progress (V.I.P.) program, allowing customers to follow the repair process through a series of photos of their vehicle. Customers simply enter a V.I.P. number and they can keep up with the progress of repair directly though the shop's Web site. A "Showroom" section allows visitors to see photos of various repairs performed by the shop. A complete list of services and frequently asked questions provides insight into the facility's overall capabilities. Online specials allow visitors to print coupons that can be used for various service orders.
Doug Wieder, body shop manager: "As we are celebrating 90 years of service, our goal was to create a Web site to bring potential customers and insurance companies to our shop, educate them on our credentials and the professional work we do. Our V.I.P. section allows customers to see photos, get updates and share them with friends and family. Providing photos validates repair procedures and supplement items, eliminating the need for on-site insurance company inspections."
This site offers an introductory page, displaying a nice photo of the outside of the shop. Once visitors enter the main site, they are greeted with an appealing home page design and organized navigation scheme. Each section within the Web site is organized into subsections, allowing for quick access to information. Staff bios help educate visitors about the shop's qualifications and certifications. The site not only lists the services the shop performs, it provides an in-depth description of the services. The site houses electronic diagnostic worksheets, allowing visitors to complete information prior to visiting the shop. Customers can schedule appointments online, ask a technician a question about their vehicle, and read "Auto 101" - a series of automotive tips - directly from the shop's Web site.
Terry and Kay Wynter, owners: "Our Web site was developed to enhance our business image and provide an additional convenience for our customers. Our site has been in operation for more than a year. We find that customers already comfortable with doing business over the Internet appreciate the convenience of using the Web site to schedule an appointment, send an e-mail to the staff or request a recommended manufacturer's maintenance schedule. Also, we frequently refer new customers to our Web site so they can become familiar with our business."
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