Each month, web and social media expert Mark Claypool will critique body shop websites and explain the benefits of updating and optimizing them. He’ll also highlight examples of successful, well-managed social media campaigns that body shops have launched, as well as keep you informed on the latest trends and announcements made by search engines and social media outlets.
Websites are not like the “Field of Dreams” featured in the 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner. In the movie, Costner is told by mysterious voices, “Build it and they will come,” “it” being a baseball field, and “they” being the Chicago Black Sox. But just because you build a website doesn’t mean visitors will flock to it. That’s where search engine optimization comes in.
Collision repair facilities today must come to the realization that having an effective online presence is as important to their long-term success as any other facet of their business.
Why do you need a strong presence online? Plain and simple, to drive traffic to your door so you have cars to fix. That’s it; nothing else matters. Anything else is a waste of time and money. And if it’s that important, it needs to be managed.
Managing your online presence consists of the following:
● Having a striking website that makes a strong first impression.
● Having your contact information prominently located on the top half of all your site’s pages.
● Having some kind of “call to action” on your website to prompt your target audience to do something.
What do you want them to do? Pick up the phone and call you? Find your location on a map and drive to you? Submit a request for an estimate or appointment? Your site should have one or all of these on the homepage. (Note to New Jersey readers: State law prohibits you from having an online estimate feature on your site).
Just having a website doesn’t mean it will be found. It needs to be optimized so that people who don’t necessarily know you can find you using the terms the public generally uses to find collision services.
There’s a big difference between website developers and true search engine optimization (SEO) specialists. SEO is a science unto itself, and takes a great deal of study and training to practice it. And it’s a constantly changing specialty, too. Google alone changed its search engine algorithms more than 400 times over the past year, so it requires commitment to keep up with it.
Shops need to participate in social media – 800 million people can’t be wrong! Facebook is the fastest growing phenomenon in the history of mankind. Let’s compare the years it took similar media outlets and gizmos to reach 50 million users:
● Radio: 38 years
● TV: 13 years
● Internet: 4 years
● iPod: 3 years
● Facebook: less than one year.
Facebook added over 200 million users in the course of one 12-month period!
Social media for collision repair is all about building brand awareness, and it must be managed effectively. Posts on Facebook and Twitter accounts need to be made regularly to maximize the number of impressions you’ll be able to make.
If you would like to have your website and social media efforts critiqued and possibly included in this column, contact me at [email protected].
Next month, we’ll critique the website of Quality Auto Paint & Body in Roanoke, Va.: www.qualityautopaintandbody.com.
Shop manager Richard Henegar, Jr., wants to take his website to new heights, but right now it’s dramatically underperforming. With Google, which has 65 percent of search engine market share, the shop’s site ranks on page 10 for the most commonly used term the public uses. That’s virtually useless since no one goes that deep into search results. Quality is on page one with Bing and Yahoo, however, which is good. Watch for what we’ll do to Quality’s site next month.
BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has nearly 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce training, business/education partnerships, apprenticeships, training and web presence management. He’s the owner of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), a provider of website design, development, search engine optimization (SEO) services and social media management services. He also serves as the regional sales manager for Metro Paint Supplies in Chicago. His work history includes vice president of VeriFacts Automotive, founder of Mentors At Work (now a division of VeriFacts), executive director of the
I-CAR Education Foundation and the National Auto Body Council (NABC), co-founder of the Collision Industry Foundation and national director of development for SkillsUSA. He continues to serve, on a volunteer basis, as the Skills- USA World team leader for the WorldSkills Championships. He can be reached at [email protected].