We at Optima Automotive have been working exclusively in Web presence management for eight years. We’ve built over 400 websites for collision shops and manage the social media accounts and reputations for hundreds more. We’ve provided countless free Web presence reviews. We’ve come across many online missteps by collision repair businesses, mistakes they often don’t even realize they’ve made or are actively making.
In this month’s column, I’ll share with you the top eight biggest mistakes we’ve seen businesses make and what to do about it.
- Keeping up with the times. Let’s face it, most shop owners and managers are most comfortable with the nitty gritty of fixing cars, not understanding what makes an effective website or an engaging social media presence. Their evolution as owners and managers has been more on the in-house side at the expense of learning what it takes to truly be effective online. The answer is to either block out some time to learn, attend training or outsource to professionals who stay on top of these things that are rapidly changing all the time.
- Not having the keys to the castle. As the owner of your business, you should have all the keys to your castle. That means you should have the logins and passwords to everything related to your online presence, including: Domain name registration. Not just the username and password, but also the rights to your domain, not your developer. Know when these domains are set to expire and renew them at least 90 days in advance. If your domain registration expires, you could lose it to someone else and pay dearly to get it back – if you can get it back at all. That will mean your website needs to be put up under a new domain name and you’ll have to switch all your email accounts over as well. This is one of the biggest nightmares you can imagine with your online presence. Trust me, you do not want this to happen to you. Website server logins, both for content management and for access to your database (also called FTP access) Email account passwords and setups
- Inadequate online security. Usernames and passwords are vulnerable to attack. Sensitive, private data is valuable to the wrong people. Any personal browsing of websites, Facebook, etc., on work computers can put the entire company at risk. Strict guidelines should be established, highly secure passwords need to be used, and employees need to be trained and held accountable for protecting the company. Nothing will ever be foolproof, but addressing these issues can save you a lot of headaches.
- Marketing through their social media accounts. Since you see a customer, on average, once every seven years, they do not want to be marketed or advertised to all the time on social media accounts. They’ll unfollow you and you’ll never get them back. Consider value-added postings that cover topical things, local events, your community service outreach, driving tips, car-care tips, etc. These are non-offensive postings that will get your profile image (which must be your logo) in front of your target audience’s newsfeeds on a regular basis.
- Not being mobile-friendly. Last year, Google made it virtually required that your website be mobile-friendly if you want to rank well. More than 50 percent of searches are now being done from mobile devices, so you need to accommodate that. To see if your site is mobile-friendly, here’s Google’s tool: www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/.
- Writing content for the wrong audience. The public assumes you fix cars and have the proper training and equipment. They don’t care about your EZ Bake spraybooth or SUPER DUPER bench system. They simply don’t care, and their eyes will glaze over reading it. Instead, write with the audience in mind: how you’ll handle the claims process for them and communicate with them throughout the repair process and set up rental car arrangements.
- Not paying attention to your online business reputation. More than likely, people have left reviews on at least one or two different sites out there. If they’re three-star reviews or worse, leaving these up to chance or burying your head in the sand doesn’t make these go away or any less harmful to your business reputation. They need to be addressed and responded to professionally and non-defensively. Positive reviews should be acknowledged as well, thanking people for taking the time to leave the review.
- Not being online at all. If you aren’t online with an effective website and participating effectively in social media, you’re at least a decade behind the times. You’re conspicuous by your absence. It makes people wonder what else you may not be keeping up with, right or wrong.
This covered the top eight mistakes we see daily. While there are many more, these are the most damaging and have the most negative impact on a business. What’s your takeaway from this? What needs to be addressed in your business?