By Angie Kilbourne
Shop Site of the Month
Japanese Motor Works - Athens, Ga.
A good-looking Web site means nothing if you can't find what you need. Japanese Motor Works receives top scores for its easy navigation and great content. The commercials are a cool addition and the pop-up video player is especially nice.
Nominate your shop's site for a Net Worth profile. E-mail your Web site address to email@example.com.
Web Wise: "ur car is rdy":
Texting for Business, Part II
Last month, we looked at the legal requirements to implement a text message feature for your business. Now we'll look at some applications for the modern automotive repair and service shop.
Texting is the No. 1 form of one-on-one communication for 20-somethings and teens, and adoption rates for text messaging among older consumers continues to rise steadily. Text messages provide users with a quick means of sharing short bursts of information, and because there is a cost tied to text messaging, it is still virtually a spam-free medium - preserving its attractiveness for many consumers.
Staying in contact with customers is an obvious choice with text messaging. It's fast, simple and efficient, and many of your customers are quite familiar and comfortable with using it. Think of how much time you and your staff might save if you could take a picture of vehicle damage or additional needed repairs and send it to your customer's or insurance adjuster's mobile phone. Through Short Message Service (SMS), you can inform customers their vehicles are ready for pickup, and remind them of their upcoming appointments.
If you are ambitious, you can even move some of your marketing into a text-messaging environment. Of course, you need to follow CAN-SPAM Act regulations (see the October 2009 issue), but consider offering subscribing customers exclusive discounts or early notification of special events.
You need not even use your mobile phone to actually send the message. Services such as Yahoo! Messenger can send an SMS through your computer directly to a mobile phone number. If you intend to use SMS for marketing and advertising, purchase a service that manages your subscriber list and helps you stay within the law. There are plenty of companies out there, including TextMeForBusiness.com, RedOxygen.com and WebText.com.
But don't limit your text messaging to customers and prospects. Think of how you can more efficiently and effectively communicate with staff and business partners through SMS. Lots of companies are using text messages to confirm deliveries and request or remind staffers about meetings.
For now, SMS applications in the business are just in their infancy. There's no telling where this technology can go when you apply your own business' objectives to it.
ASA Web Ways: The Gift that Keeps Giving
Looking for the perfect holiday gift for your fellow shop owner? AutoInc. magazine makes the decision easy - no shopping, wrapping or shipping! Visit www.AutoInc.org/subscribe.htm for details, and your gift recipient will receive 12 monthly issues of ASA's official publication. Filled with great technical tips and how-tos, management advice and mechanical- and collision-specific info, AutoInc. makes your Christmas shopping a snap!
Consumers find word-of-mouth purchase recommendations more credible from friends and relatives (34 percent) than spouses/partners (25 percent) or online bloggers (5 percent).
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