Going for the Gold: AutoInc.’s Top 10 Websites
The race to the top was competitive, but 10 ASA shops emerged ahead of the pack.
Last summer’s memorable Olympics may be over, but that doesn’t keep us from doling out the gold as we announce AutoInc.’s Top 10 Websites for 2013.
As in years past, the job of judging these websites was difficult. ASA member-shops are always leading the pack and setting high standards when it comes to running their businesses, and nowhere is this more evident than the “www” face they project to the rest of the world.
All of this year’s contenders managed good websites that always had the customer in mind. Home pages were attractive with attention-getting graphics and photos. Navigation was fluid and well organized. What distinguished the Top 10 entries from all others were the details. When it came to educating customers, the Top 10 sites went above and beyond with informative and regularly updated blogs, video tours that bring you up close even before you take your car in for servicing, and social networking strategies that emphasize the importance of educating and maintaining a relationship with your customers.
Congratulations to this year’s winners (who are listed in no particular order)! We encourage other shops to take notice. Who knows? Your shop may be on our list next year!
Serving higher-end car makes such as Volvo, BMW, Mini, Land Rover and Audi, Braxton Automotive Group emphasizes excellent customer service. Its site is comprehensive and features a frequently updated blog, which addresses topics such as “Why am I paying for diagnostics?” “Battery life,” and “Spark Plugs 101.” Owner Steve Braxton views the blog as an educational tool. “Our blog is first a listening post,” he says. “We use it to communicate questions or concerns heard from our customers. We believe one client’s inquiry can become another’s automotive education.”
The website’s “Meet Our Employees” section contains detailed bios of its employees, which put a clear face with a name and personalizes the whole car care experience.
Braxton Automotive’s functionality and easy navigation is organized by car make. Some of the site’s unique standouts include a “Thank You” section, which has pictures of notes and letters written to the shop’s staff over the years.
Braxton Automotive’s Facebook page is active, engaging and downright funny. Through consistent posts, it features humorous bumper stickers, weekly contests (with great prizes) and car care tips that help their customers take better care of their vehicles in between visits.
Hillmuth Certified Automotive, Columbia, Md.
We can’t say enough good things about Hillmuth’s website. It’s clear the shop has done its research in creating a site that is interactive. Redesigned in 2011, it’s a fourth-generation website that is well organized and easy to navigate with any mobile device. In fact, the proliferation of smart phones and the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, precipitated the redesign.
Putting his money where the referrals are, co-owner Doug Hillmuth found the Internet brings in about 20 percent of new business, so the shop invested in a site that really stood out to prospective customers. Hillmuth provided visitors with the kind of information that distinguishes their shops from others – including a specific section on “Why Choose Hillmuth?” over other shops.
Crediting his nephew for overseeing the redesign, Doug Hillmuth says, “Billy [nephew] took the rein in the modernizing of the site … to bring the old in with the new to create a site that is easy to navigate from any device and still have features and benefits that help our customers and potential customers feel comfortable with our services and personnel.”
Flossmoor Family Automotive Repair, Flossmoor, Ill.
Family is at the center of everything Flossmoor Family Automotive Repair does. A visit to their website immediately conveys that. Large, colorful photos show various family members at work in the shop. Owners Bill and Tracey Sampognaro have operated their shop for many years. They wanted to use their website to reach a larger client base by focusing on their core values. Working with an outside firm, the family strived to convey the tight family business they run by showcasing pictures and bios.
It’s hard not to feel like one of the family after visiting their website as you get to know the shop and its employees well during the site visit. In the website redesign, the Sampognaros set out to achieve another goal. “We are committed to exceeding even the loftiest expectations from our customers,” says Bill. “We wanted to convey our genuine passion for cars while earning our customers’ trust.”
Flossmoor Family Automotive Repair does a great job of building confidence in their shop. Overall, this is an attractive and professional site that would “wow” any motorist.
Mid-Cities Service Center, Euless, Texas
Celebrating 25 years in business, Mid-Cities Service Center prides itself on its reputation of “honesty, quality and customer service.” Those tenets are conveyed in its website, which gets right down to business. The layout and design is easy on the eyes with excellent use of white space.
Mid-Cities Service Center’s website is well organized, contains a variety of certified testimonials and offers lots of good car care information. In fact, owner and general manager, Bob Parra, uses You Tube videos to educate motorists about common vehicle problems like squeaky brakes.
The shop has a convenient online appointment scheduling and offers a variety of specials for customers who want to get their vehicles fixed while saving some money. All in all, this site gets all of the details right and does it in an attractive fashion.
Auto Pro To Call, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Auto Pro To Call is not a newbie to AutoInc.’s Top 10 Websites list. It was on our list for Top 10 Websites in 2011, and even since then, it has taken it up a notch with a redesign in 2012. The site is beautifully designed with great photography coupled with key descriptors that set the shop apart from others in the area boasting free shuttle service and Wi-Fi, a 30,000-mile warranty, ASE master technicians and more.
The website has the right balance of text, graphics and white space, making it a breeze to navigate and a pleasure to cruise.
Owner James Allen says, “We redesigned our website this past year to keep up with design trends and maintain a high search engine rank. We continue to get excellent traffic with our online marketing and our website does a great job at making the phone ring with qualified customers.”
Another component to its online marketing is its Facebook and Twitter activity. A recent Tweet: “Are you traveling with your furry friends for the holidays? Check out these useful tips before you head out!” Its Facebook page features contests for great prizes such as a new iPad Mini, offers various tips about taking good care of your car, supports the community by promoting civic projects and it doesn’t forget that people love to laugh so it keeps its posts light and funny.
With a redesign of its website last year, Louetta Automotive wanted to wow its current and future customers, and we believe they did just that! The rotating photos showcase their seven locations with great testimonials mixed in. They wanted the new site to be as dynamic as possible and as its owner, Shane Wilson, says: “Right from the home page you can like our Facebook page, see specials we’re offering, register for a newsletter, see a commercial, view our locations, search for a location, and so much more!”
With multiple locations, the site does a good job of distinguishing each shop and providing easy navigation for appointments and contacting customer service.
Louetta Automotive also puts an emphasis on consistency. Its blog is updated weekly and provides great articles to keep in touch with its customers. Their coupons change regularly, depending on what each shop has going. The shop has used their Facebook page to come up with some creative ideas, which have generated a lot of good and positive feedback. Examples include offering a $10 coupon Wednesday (to only be used on that day) and conducting free flood checks when the area flooded last July.
Ferris EuroService Automotive, Warrenton, Va.
Professional, clean-cut and gets down to business. These words not only describe Ferris EuroService’s website, but also its owner, Bill Moss, who is director of ASA’s Mechanical Division.
The site is well organized and simple, yet its content is rich. The scroll of customer testimonials running on the home page is highly effective and builds credibility. One customer went so far as to say, “This is very likely the best independent automotive repair shop in the United States.”
In addition to the photos of the shop and its employees, there is a great video from Moss who addresses his customers one-on-one and tells them his shop’s approach to caring for their vehicles and why they should bring them in to Ferris EuroService Automotive.
At the end of the day, the site gets the job done communicating its excellent service, specialization areas, integrity and the importance they place on being an “advocate” for their customer’s cars.
Wheeling Auto Center, Arlington Heights, Ill.
A great site that is a pleasure to visit! It does a masterful job of educating motorists about the importance of proper car care while convincing them that Wheeling Auto Center is the best place to take their car! The education is done through innovative content, including a blog that offers up great articles and a special “Parents/Kids” section that has info on car seat safety as well games for kids to play in the car while traveling!
Owner Dave Becker has real vision for the site and more and more the shop is using social media efforts to connect with its customers. Becker says, “We feel it’s important to connect with our customers on a more personal level and social media is a great way of doing that when you’re not face-to-face.
“You can post interesting tidbits that occur in your day-to-day efforts, accomplishments of the business or staff, and promote certain social or community events. It takes only a few minutes each week but it keeps you engaged with your customers and shows your business is made up of people and not just a nameless, faceless entity. We try to refrain from selling or offering anything other than the occasional helpful tip to let them know we are still thinking about them.”
Cool Springs Automotive, Brentwood, Tenn.
Rounding out our Top 10 Websites for 2013 is Cool Springs Automotive, a six-bay shop specializing in Toyotas, with an emphasis on Lexus vehicles. The beautiful black and white photography throughout the website is a standout, as also its “Learning Center”. It’s chock full of consumer knowledge, educational videos, FAQs and offers several reasons as to why the shop is different from its competitors.
Owner Rob Auernheimer is focused on “sweating the small stuff” as his website says, and paying attention to the little things that can make a big difference in where customers choose to have their vehicles serviced. Every page throughout the site has easy access to customer reviews and an online appointment scheduler.
The staff section of the site continues to feature great photography, along with bios of each team member establishing credibility with current and future customers. It uses Facebook to promote various shop specials, which have been well received by its followers. This is a fine-looking site with lots of great content. It would be difficult not to choose Cool Springs Automotive after visiting its website.
An engaging website like Hubbards Woods Motors does a lot of things right. This is the second straight year that this Midwestern shop has found its way onto AutoInc.’s Top 10 Websites list. Its formula for success? The right balance of graphics, solid consumer car care information, trouble-free navigation and little extras like an online bulletin board (that’s a hit with its customers) all result in a great site visit.
Hubbards Woods Motors strives to arm its customers with as much information as possible to make a wise choice for servicing needs on Volvos and Mini Coopers. By establishing credibility through the shop’s history, it showcases a variety of testimonials under its “Satisfied Customers” section and makes it super easy to contact the store by phone or through online appointment.
Owner Bob Berger uses its social networking to get the word out about various promotions and has had great success. He timed the announcement for their servicing Saabs right after the Saab dealerships were going out of business and experienced great success. He also promoted a Mother’s Day detailing special on Facebook, which was well received.
Thanks to all of the shops that took the time to submit their entries for our 2013 contest!