Building a Better Web SitePosted 1/17/2006
By David S. Becker, AAM
When the Internet first became more than "the next CB radio," we knew that a presence on the Web would be vital to our business. Although our first Web site wasn't anything like the one we have today, we can attribute a lot of our business to the confidence it built in our visitors and our existing customers.
We are positioned as a high-end, high-volume independent automotive service center. Having a Web site (www.wheelingautocenter.com) that reflects that positioning sends a message to our visitors that is consistent with everything we do. Being comfortable with technology reflects our comfort with knowing more about the technology engineered into today's vehicles. It's only natural for people to make that connection.
More than ever, the Web is becoming the Yellow Pages of the future but even more robust. With one click, you can look up a shop, learn about its services and even about the staff who you will entrust with one of the greatest resources in your life - your car. Our site also educates visitors about common concerns regarding their vehicle. We even offer to answer their specific questions through our "Ask the Expert" section.
Another great feature of our site is that we consistently build confidence in the prospects who visit to the point where they are comfortable taking that next step of commitment - the appointment. We make it easy to schedule an appointment online.
Our quarterly newsletters are posted to show the public everything we do. Testimonials are also available so that prospective customers can see how our current customers feel about us. Sure, skeptics can say that they never see a bad testimonial, but we feel that it's still a great opportunity to hear actual customers tell about their experiences in their own words. People make a connection with that.
The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words certainly applies to the value of the Web. By showing people a wide variety of photos that feature our large and well-maintained shop, we communicate a ton of positive information. They know we're serious about having an environment that fits our purpose and that we are proud of where we work. They can also see that our waiting area is fully equipped for their comfort - with a special section to keep even the kids occupied!
The value of our Web site is only realized if we have the traffic to see it. We spend a significant amount of our marketing budget driving traffic to the site. By using a marketing firm to help us stay on track and be consistent in our mailings and guerilla marketing, we are able to depend on a steady flow of visitors, and consequently, traffic in our shop.
Web sites are a powerful tool for the shops that realize this and invest the money to do them right. We're proud to be recognized among our peers as one of the Top Ten.
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