By Angie Kilbourne
Shop Site of the Month
Bill McElroy Autobody - Bensalem, Pa.
Clear navigation and a clean layout make the site pleasantly memorable for any visitor. The scanned "thank you" letters are a nice, personal touch, and the "Back in the Day" section is highly entertaining. Overall, a thumbs up, though we'd like to see more pictures of the staff and owner.
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 I
Could your business benefit from Short Message Service (SMS), otherwise known as text messaging? Have you been contemplating ways to incorporate text messages into your communications with customers and co-workers, but unsure of the regulations or their consequences? Fear no more. ASA will take a look in this two-part series at how text messaging can help your business work smarter - not harder.
Let's start with the most important aspect for businesses wanting to employ SMS as a communication tool - the 2003 federal Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) bans any unwanted commercial message sent to an e-mail box or mobile communications device as spam.
Commercial messages, according to the FCC, have the primary purpose of advertising or promoting a commercial product or service. The rule does not apply to "'transactional or relationship' messages, or notices to facilitate a transaction you have already agreed to," such as updates on an existing account or a recently purchased product or service. For more information on CAN-SPAM, visit www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/canspam.html.
Next, let's talk about documentation. Though similar in many ways, each state (and sometimes even local) government has its own set of regulations regarding the documentation of business transactions and customers' authorization of work performed. How familiar are you with your state's laws, especially in how they address electronic messaging? Before you implement a program at your shop to communicate electronically with customers, understand the laws and regulations and how they apply to your business.
You may be required to supervise and archive all electronic messages; such laws already regulate many industries, including financial services and health care. Specific software solutions have been developed to address these requirements and are employed worldwide by businesses to document business transactions.
As we close Part I, recognize that before you pick up your smart phone and text over the cost of the repair to your customer, you've got to do some legwork. First, you need to actively solicit consent, as well as the preferred method of contact and appropriate information, for contacting your clients electronically. Click here to dowload a standardized authorization form that you can customize; review this document with your attorney to ensure you are compliant with federal, state and local regulations. You also need to ensure you can provide documentation to your customers, vendors and regulators in the event of a question, problem, product failure or warranty issue.
Next month, we'll look at special applications for text messaging in the repair business, as well as how to assess when a third party may be beneficial to help you make it all happen.
ASA Web Ways: Help Wanted
Looking to fill a recent employment vacancy? ASA members can post "Help Wanted" ads online free of charge on the ASA Employment Classifieds page. In addition, any automotive industry professional can post his or her resume free of charge. And anyone can view resumes or help wanted ads through the "Employment Classifieds" link on the ASA home page (www.ASAshop.org).
Eighty percent of mobile phone users in the United States also send text messages.
Source: Mobile Marketing Association, Pew Internet & American Life Project
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