The judges have spoken! Check out the winners and get some tips for your site from the results of AutoInc.’s 2015 Top 10 Website Contest.
Is your website designed to effectively market your automotive repair services? That’s a question you might be asking yourself after examining the sites of these winners of our 2015 Top 10 Websites Contest. This annual feature of AutoInc. magazine sets out to discover the cream of the online crop from shops scattered throughout the United States.
Our judges weren’t just impressed by flash or class, though there were plenty of sites that met these criteria. Judges dug deep into each site, looking for evidence that the shop owners and their designers had seriously thought through how their sites could best reach new customers by showing off the various ways their services topped the competition.
Judging categories included the first impression given by the site’s visual design, how easy it was it to navigate, whether the home page clearly conveyed the shop’s mission and values, the human skills and technology that communicate the credibility of the services, the marketing language to attract and retain clientele and the shop’s level of social media savvy.
The judges’ decisions were tough. Lots of sites posted photos and videos of competent staff. Lots of sites contained plenty of helpful car-care tips for their customers. Lots of sites used testimonials to tout their shops’ friendliness and reliability.
In the end, the judges settled on these 10. As you read through the reasons why they were chosen, remember that individual opinions are always subjective, but our judges’ credentials provide reasons to trust their selections.
– John Clark, Editor
Atlantic Motorcar, Wiscasset, Maine
Atlantic Motorcar is a high-end European and Japanese service shop. Its website reflects the luxury and quality of the vehicles it services. From valet pickup to client perks, it’s all about delivering the very best for the very best. Of particular interest is the link for its AMC Express Service, which allows customers to simply stop by without an appointment for any automotive concerns, warning lights or quick service while they wait.
Their motto is “Knowledge. Value. Trust” and each of these features a short explanation of the value Atlantic delivers through its certified technicians and affiliations, such as being an Authorized Bosch Service Center.
• The website’s clean look and design speaks to the quality of the service they deliver. The use of video and still photos spotlighting the facility and the service team offers a compelling view for the first-time customer who appreciates and expects the very best.
• The website is user-friendly with quick links to answer any questions, make an appointment or explore all that Atlantic Motorcar has to offer.
• One unusual feature is the individual links by vehicle, so customers can learn more about the services offered for their specific vehicle. Nice touch!
• Descriptions of the staff spotlight qualifications and experience.
• We particularly like the link for prospective employees to know that Atlantic Motorcar is always looking for top talent.
• The Blog link provides information on its pre-owned luxury vehicle inventory, along with clever and interesting posts on everything from the origin of the BMW kidney grille to Mini Cooper timing chains. Several non-automotive but amusing posts convey a sense of humor and connection with the customer.
• The Green Automotive Service link offers detailed information on environmentally friendly business practices, which is likely to be of particular interest to its typical customer.
Buddy’s Automotive, Independence, Mo.
Buddy’s has got the blues. But that’s good news for consumers in Independence. We noted the shop website’s clean design, with easy-to-read white type over both light- and dark-blue backgrounds. And the images pop. There isn’t an over-abundance of photos here, but they seem carefully chosen for compatibility with the color scheme and designed to appeal to consumers seeking reliable, no-nonsense service.
• Super mobile-friendly site. A little copy-heavy for mobile, but font is large enough to read easily. You can schedule service calls on the home screen, also access social media sites.
• Appointment and Contact tabs easy to find.
• Nice mix of car images and people to show the essence of Buddy’s brand.
• Very straightforward objective: “We Get the Work Done the First Time, On Time.”
• Has a resource section, but appointment and contact info are the top call to actions. Does have a blog with video content, which is interesting.
• Builds credibility with “ASE Certified” mentioned in rotating graphic, shows partners and affiliates and recommends towing company. Looks professional.
• Uses a service to populate social media sites. Has presence on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Like the use of images and graphics on Facebook.
Harlan Automotive, Murray, Ky.
Harlan Automotive prides itself on “state-of-the art service.” It also likes to promote a customer- and family friendly environment. That’s certainly reflected in the photos displayed, including a black-and-white image of a mother teaching her children the alphabet.
• Awesome mobile site, easy to read, clean and not cluttered. Design is responsive.
• Easy to find phone number in upper left-hand corner and Schedule Service button is bold in top banner images.
• My first impression of this site is that the images stand out. A professional-looking site.
• It’s easy to tell what this shop does. The tagline, “Taking Care of the People and the Cars They Drive,” is prominent on the home page. Super easy to read Harlan’s message and understand the company and level of service.
• We would trust this company. The people know their stuff and talk about certifications, with a huge feature on service provided.
• Friendly images for customers and picture of the staff on the home page.
• “RepairPal Certified” is featured on the home page, as are customer reviews and credential logos.
• Harlan’s content on social media – Facebook, Twitter and Google+ – is awesome. Also, the reviews are noteworthy!
Key Auto Werks, Houston, Texas
A classy site that speaks to a segment of owners that prefer, and can afford, a high-end type of automobile: Mercedes, BMW, Audi and VW. Its white-type-on-black-background and the occasional touches of color (red and blue) make the ASE Certified, Read More and Write a Review buttons stand out. Exudes a friendly quality with the prominent welcoming message: “We speak your car’s language,” alluding to the European makes it services.
• Mobile-friendly and easy to navigate. Like the phone number followed by the Schedule Service button.
• Phone number easy to find, in top right corner in a blue button. Appointment button is easy to find as well.
• Site design is sleek and modern. Like the rotating car
images, with the certifications and company attributes. Don’t normally like white type but not a bother here.
• Easy to tell shop’s purpose: a professional and certified company. No clutter on their pages.
• Consumer friendly and easy to use. Miss images of people on the front, but it uses them on the About Us page and in the customer reviews.
• Incorporates credentials into rotating graphics and prominently displays them on the site.
• Good reviews and content on social media: Facebook and Google+.
Luscious Garage, San Francisco, Calif.
Luscious Garage is not your average auto repair shop. It specializes in hybrid service and its cutting-edge business philosophy is reflected in the website. With the tagline “Auto Repair for the Future,” visitors are greeted with a full-screen video of the shop and employees. It isn’t what you’d expect from a website, and reflects the customer experience at Luscious Garage – it’s not what you’d expect.
• The extensive use of video to explain the services offered begins with an interactive tour of the facility. Customers can take advantage of a 360-degree look both inside and outside the clean, well-organized shop, and move through the tour with the click of a mouse.
• The mobile-friendly version offers online booking, directions and contact links, along with highlighting the convenience, environmental commitment and extended hours of service.
• The video is high quality and serves to deliver effective messaging while spotlighting the many ways Luscious Garage uses renewable energy, water conservation and “green” service supplies, as well as the paperless nature of the business.
• A knowledge base on the website offers articles and information for customers and consumers in general.
• Luscious Garage also builds credibility with industry partners’ logos including ASE certification, ASA and affiliations with such online tools as RepairPal and iATN.
• One special feature is a mention that the shop doesn’t have service advisers. Customers speak directly with technicians.
Menke’s Auto Repair, Newburgh, Ind.
The website at Menke’s Auto Repair starts with the team. Visitors are greeted by a clean, modern look and a photo of the entire staff. Quick links and copy highlight Menke’s free loaner car program and a facility tour with both static and video to show the clean, modern facility. Customer trust is further enhanced by the prominent display of the shop’s affiliations, which include ASA, ASE, AAA, NAPA AutoCare and Angie’s List Super Service Award. Information on business hours, directions, payment methods and news and information round out a well-presented home page.
• First-time visitors can see an impressive list of awards in the About Us section.
• Appointment and Contact tabs are easy to find and use, as are the services offered.
• The Our Team section features photos of Menke’s staff, putting names with the faces featured on the website.
• The Testimonials tab offers reviews from existing customers and further cements the “customer-first” nature of the business. The use of customer videos is impressive.
• The facility tour shows a clean, well-equipped and organized facility more often associated with a dealership operation, and the large glass wall allows waiting customers a view into the service area. Perhaps most impressive is the customer waiting area, which looks more like a living room than a repair shop waiting area.
• Menke’s even includes a photo of a clean, well-designed rest room to drive home the quality service message.
Motorcars International Inc., Smyrna, Ga.
Motorcars International has a simple message for its customers: We drive what you drive. The website carries this simple theme throughout, with an emphasis on providing trust, quality and the kind of family relationship customers are looking for when it comes to taking care of their vehicles.
• The website offers a simple, clean design with rotating banners and quick links that make it user-friendly.
• Appointment and Contact tabs are supplemented by such topics as Specials, Financing, Testimonials and a photo gallery.
• The page devoted to shop dogs (Luna and Toby) conveys an emotional connection customers can relate to and identify with.
• We particularly liked the way the shop spotlights its ASE certified technicians, Authorized Bosch Service Center and ASA affiliations. The message is that this is an established business and a member of the community you can trust.
• The blog link offers a variety of information and advice, as does the FAQ and Car Care Tips.
• The Gallery does a great job of showing the people and the facility, while highlighting the latest equipment.
Robert’s Collision & Repair, Monterey, Calif.
From the expressionistic home page that features an image of a luxury car speeding across a futuristic bridge, visitors recognize that this shop caters to vehicle owners who expect exceptional service – and can pay for it. Still, Robert’s has the presence of mind to market its “$50 Off” coupon offer of a timing belt replacement in bold red type. Prominently promotes that it’s the “first and only” green shop in the area using waterborne paint. No fussy clutter; just sleek professionalism throughout.
• Clever reorientation of horizontal Web format of home page to either vertical or horizontal for smartphones and tablets to maintain integrity of car-on-bridge image and verbal messaging.
• Forceful marketing language throughout, including “Your Premier Collision & Auto Repair Center.”
• Almost monochromatic color scheme uses effective red, blue and white type that pops off black backgrounds. Selective use of professional-grade photos offers action and mechanical details.
• Clear statements of service intentions and values (“Zero Comeback Policy”). Engages and educates customers with extensive list of obvious and easy-to-access services, FAQs, Car Care Tips and shop-specific videos of customer service staff and shop techs at work.
• Policy statement assures, “We intend to become a leader, not a follower … ” and prominently displays BBB and ASE certified accreditations.
• Offers service-oriented postings on Facebook and Twitter.
Stang Auto Tech, Broomfield, Colo.
We like the friendly slide show of working techs, smiling owner and group shot of friendly staff, as well as the site’s simple arrangement of service-menu buttons located at the top of the home page. Nothing over-designed here, but solid information intended to make the visitor comfortable with accessing the basics. The Happy Halloween message, with images from the animated Pixar film “Cars,” suggests the shop’s sense of fun.
• Super-clean and optimized for mobile.
• Phone number is easy to find, as are star reviews right at the top.
• Modern design. Images are awesome. Testimonials and reviews are prominently displayed, along with back-to-school special.
• Objective stated clearly. “Good feeling, isn’t it?” to get your car serviced here.
• Customer friendly, pleasing to the eye and easy to read. Vibrant colors. Like the vehicle service page because it looks like an undated shop in this century. The Ask A Mechanic info is educational, and the writing sounds personal.
• Powerful, positive reviews used to build credibility; no industry seals are displayed. More than 800 reviews on its website and Facebook page.
Towne & Country Auto Body, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Rather spare home-page design nevertheless manages to say what needs to be said, from touting the shop’s 40 years of providing “ high-quality service” to the inclusion of its I-CAR Gold Class logo. An economy of buttons accompanying the shop’s address and phone number at the top of the page simply serves to emphasize the site’s understated confidence in its ability to please its customers.
• Design and site organization work well on mobile devices, and responsive buttons and color choices display well on both smartphone and tablet.
• Urges visitors to “Schedule Your Free Estimate” or “Refer Us.”
• Somewhat monochromatic themes of light and dark, pale blue and white seem to say: We know we’re good; we don’t have to scream.
• Opening promo headline tells the story: “Bringing You the Best…,” but type sections focus on giving visitors clear reasons why they should choose Towne & Country.
• Marketing copy effectively sells its services with language that uses terms such as “superior,” “top notch” and “exceptional.”
• Easy-to-navigate site tells shop’s story in punchy, but not over-the-top language, focusing on services, capabilities and comfortable surroundings.
• Promotional copy focuses on customer needs, providing evidence of the shop’s reputation, experience and dedication.
Wiscasset, ME 04578; (207) 882-9969
Buddy’s Automotive, 1030 W. 23rd St. S
Independence, MO 64055; (816) 252-0425
Harlan Automotive, 408 N. 4th St.
Murray, KY 42071; (270) 767-0101
Key Auto Werks, 2505 W. Holcombe Blvd
Houston, Texas, 77030; (713) 662-2622
Luscious Garage, 475 9th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103; 415-875-9030
Menke’s Auto Repair, 5400 S. Vann Rd.
Newburgh, IN 47630 (812) 853-5571
Motorcars International Inc., 1711 Spring Rd. SE
Smyrna, GA 30080; 770-432-2336
Robert’s Auto Repair, 234 Ramona Ave.
Monterey, CA 93940;
Service Department, (831) 373-1534
Collision Department: (831) 373-1535
Stang Auto Tech, 7202 West 116th Ave.
Broomfield, CO 80020; (303) 404-3813
Towne & Country Auto Body, 4152 Oak Park Dr. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508; (616) 455-3970