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COVID-19: Opportunities When Miles Driven Goes Back Up

Your web presence overall must be ready to seize the opportunities that will come after COVID-19.

BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, apprenticeships, marketing and Web presence management with SkillsUSA, the I-CAR Education Foundation, Mentors at Work, VeriFacts Automotive and the NABC. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, SEO services and social media management services.

COVID-19 has dominated every aspect of our lives. You can’t turn on the TV or radio or check social media without seeing something about it. You’ve probably seen more masks during these times than on Halloween in Las Vegas, and you might have even worn one yourself. You’ve seen hoarding and panic, and yet you’re still here pushing forward.

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When we come out of this, there will be opportunities for your business – that is, if you can get through these months that are testing you right to your core. Let’s discuss what those opportunities are.

Car Count

When I want to tap into the pulse of our industry, I turn to my friend, industry icon Mike Anderson of Collision Advice. I knew Mike would have insights, and he didn’t disappoint. He said, “Mark, the car count to the door is the new KPI.”

Anderson explained that shops need to be counting how many cars are coming to the door. They need to truly track referral sources and use their management system’s referral or source report. He says they need to educate their customer service reps about this, explaining why this is so important to capture. Anderson believes, as I do, that digital sources are going to be on the rise going forward.

“Digital sources are where shops should be putting a great deal of their focus,” Anderson said. “That includes your website and how it is found through organic search, paid search, direct traffic to your site as well as your social media presence. Your prospects will compare the ease and relevance of the experience you provide them online against the best of all industries.”

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That may not seem fair, but it is reality. Your target audience uses Amazon, Netflix and other top sites all the time. They like how clear things are, how easy sites are to navigate through, how easy it is to search for what they want and place their orders. The experience is simple, clear and gratifying. And then, they need a body shop. Does your web presence provide a similar ease of use, and then a gratifying experience at the end of the process?

Digital Storefront

You need a digital storefront, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Approximately 36% of consumers need your services outside of the normal 9-to-5 business hours. Your site should make it easy for them to request an estimate. Photo estimating and appointment booking systems are available from companies like Bodyshop Booster and CCC Information Services. These can be tied directly to your website. We do it all the time for our clients, and the feedback is outstanding. Make it easy and then do killer follow-up to close the sale.

Photo estimating, according to Anderson, has additional benefits like helping couples make joint decisions on repair options, alternate transportation, finances and more. Photo estimating reduces claims with local agents. You can use photos to triage and/or schedule your workload, and you can use these photos to get a headstart on researching OEM procedures. Winner!

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Anderson also pointed out something we’ve been saying for years: that online reviews are extremely important as OEMs and insurers are paying attention to them. Google reviews also help your organic ranking potential.

Opportunities Abound

Anderson clearly believes that a lot of shops will fall victim to this virus economically.

“Many shops do not have the cash reserves to withstand this,” he said.

If you’re a survivor on the other end of this, there will be opportunities – lots of them – to fix cars. Consider the following from Anderson:

  • People are going to have cabin fever and go stir crazy. They will be hitting the roads in unprecedented numbers. More cars on the road and more vehicle miles traveled (VMT) = more accidents!
  • People will return to their full-time jobs, and some people may have to work part-time jobs as well to get caught up on their bills. More cars on the road and more VMT = more accidents.
  • People will avoid ride-sharing/public transportation due to lingering concerns over the coronavirus. More cars on the road and more VMT = more accidents.
  • People will be making up for celebrations, rescheduled weddings, etc. More cars on the road and more VMT = more accidents.
  • People will be drinking more, partying, blowing off steam and, unfortunately, driving = more accidents.

All of this means your web presence overall must be ready to seize these opportunities and make the experience easy and gratifying. Now is the time to make that happen.

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Friends, my 101st column is my last for BodyShop Business. It has been my honor to be a contributing editor here for over 20 years. I sincerely hope you received a lot of value in what I presented. Your feedback and support have been amazing, and I cannot thank you enough. Farewell!


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