All the things that you feel make your business special most likely make you an indistinguishable tree in a forest. Just ask Mike Anderson, owner of CollisionAdvice. He routinely conducts an exercise in his sales and marketing best practices workshop where he passes out sticky notes and asks the audience to write down the three top reasons why someone should choose their shop. He collects them from the audience and then groups them on the wall. To the right is what he sees the most.
The public simply doesn’t care about these things. They assume you do quality work or you wouldn’t be in business. They assume you have trained/certified staff who will work on their cars. Tell them that they can trust you and they’re immediately on guard. Guarantees and warranties are assumed. And great customer service is fine, but actions speak louder than words. And everyone is telling them the same thing online!
What do we typically see on a body shop website? Lots of useless information and usually all of the things mentioned above. The public doesn’t likely know what I-CAR is and may not know what ASE certification is either. They don’t care if you use this paint or that paint; they probably haven’t heard of those brands anyway. They don’t care what kind of spraybooth or bench system you have. They don’t even know what a spraybooth is, and when they think of a bench, they think of something you sit on or put tools on. Oh, and that inverter spot welder you just spent a lot of money on? They don’t know what that is and don’t want to know. And yet, all of the above is what we routinely see on body shop websites.
Less Is More
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: less is more when it comes to body shop website content. The public doesn’t read that much on an auto body shop site. They look at an average of 1.7 pages, typically the homepage and the “Contact Us” or directions page.
“What?” you say. “You mean they don’t look at my history page? Or services page? Or staff page? Or all the great equipment I spend a fortune on?”
That’s right – very few people look at that stuff. It’s fine to have those pages, and you should for those few who will bother to dig deeper, but keep them simple. Spend your time on your homepage. Hit on what truly differentiates you from your competition, then give people a clear call to action. Direct them to do something you want them to do, i.e. pick up the phone to call you, find your address and see directions or fill out a “request an estimate” or “request an appointment” form.
What People Care About
Differentiation always seems to be a tough exercise for shop owners. When they try to come up with what makes them special, they usually list the five things on the sticky notes mentioned earlier, so you have to really work on this. Online reviews may help you, if you have them.
What are people saying about you? Maybe you can pull some things off those reviews because this is the way people actually see you, not the way you think you come across. That’s an important distinction. You need to know what’s actually going on in your shop, not what you think is going on. That’s where online reviews, both good and bad, can be helpful (which I will talk about in a future column).
For example, let’s assume the reviewer states that he had heard “great things” about this shop. The shop arranged a rental car for him (most do, but we don’t always see that in a description of the shop on the homepage), the vehicle owner was “amazed” at the finished product and the shop “exceeded my expectations.” The shop’s “attention to detail exhibited in the repair was flawless.” The pricing was “exceptionally reasonable.” Their “extensive skill” gives them the ability to repair everything “from a Bentley to a Prius.” He says, “I highly recommend Geneva Body Shop to all my friends and family.” Holy smokes! In one review, we have enough material to build an entire homepage around.
How about this one? The reviewer states: “These people are artists, creating masterpieces in every job.” Wow! Share this review with your staff because they’re the ones who earned it. Then, convey this on the homepage like this:
One of our loyal customers said it best: “These people are artists, creating masterpieces in every job.”
Excellent! This is what people can relate to and what will make you stand out. This is what people actually care about! Now you’re on to something.
I’ll be covering things like this in my social media management and reputation management workshops at both NACE and SEMA this year. Hope to see you there!
BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, business/education partnerships, apprenticeships and Web presence management. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, development, search engine optimization (SEO) services and social media management services. Claypool’s work history includes stints at Metro Paint Supplies, VeriFacts Automotive, the National Auto Body Council (NABC), the I-CAR Education Foundation and SkillsUSA. He is the founder of Mentors At Work and co-founder of the Collision Industry Foundation. He served, on a volunteer basis, as the SkillsUSA World Team Leader for the WorldSkills Championships from 2003 to 2011.