On-line Trade Show - Seminars
Transmission repair sites
by Art Little
This article appeared in the October 2000 issue of Transmission Digest.
If you are a shop owner you have have at least considered a commercial website for your shop by now. Everyone is curious. So why should you have a website for your shop and what do they cost?
A website can be a valuable sales tool and much more, but don't expect it to do too much. It is simply a covienience for your customer and a chance for you to tell the customer why he should do business with you. A transmission repair website should not be designed to produce a direct on-line order but rather serve to inform your customer and indirectly result in a sale. People sell transmissions. Build your commercial website to enhance your present sales structure and let the sales people close the sale.
Here are some of the best sales enhancing tools I have seen after reviewing many transmission repair websites. These tools should have separate WebPages and be listed on the main menu of your website :
Your home page is very important beceause it is your chance to make a good first impression. Here you need to have a main menue, your logo, all your contact informtion, business hours, and a short mission statement.
Some allowable home page additions are as follows. Some shop owners add a small, fast loading picture of themselves on the home page with a statement to the customer regarding their commitment to the customers satisfaction. Another option I like is to put up a picture of the shop or a group shot of the staff on the home page with a short company slogan. Other shop owners choose not put any pictures on the home page beceause pictures slow down the page load time. They opt to simply put up satisfied customer testimonials.
As time goes on the load time will not be as important. But, right now most of the Internet shoppers do not have the new connective hardware that speeds up download time and that is a very important issue as I will explain later in the article. It is a personal deceision you have to make and an important one.
Here you tell the history of your shop and what seperates your shop from the others. My advice is to make it short and to the point.
Frequently Asked Questions:
This is the place to put the bulk of the information the customer is looking for. Each sales person has different answers to the most frequently asked questions and the answers can be very different depending on your sales stratagy and experience. After training managers for many years I know each one will have a certain way to answer each question. That is what seperates the sheep from the goats in sales. You need to be a wordsmith here. If you do not do the selling at the shop, get the sales people involved. What questions are the customers asking and exactly what is the best answer to each question?
I like the sites that have a map on the main menu. The map page is the map to the shop and should have nothing else but the map, your contact information and shop hours on the page. The map page answers a lot of the main questions customers have. What is the name and phone number of the shop? Where is the shop located? How do I get there? And finaly, when is the shop open. Everything on one page. Tip: Post a reminder at the top of the page that reminds them to print out the map. If the shopper prints out the map, he has made an important step toward purchasing a transmission repair from you.
Interaction with customers is a must on all websites. Although your FAQ's will answer most of the customers questions it will not answer them all. Give the customer a way to contact you via email. Some of the more innovative sites call this section" Ask the Doctor" or "Ask the Experts" or "Talk to the Techs". They will invite the customer to fill out a short form on-line with the customers name and telephone number along with the year, make and model of their vehicle . Then, a field is provided on the form to allow the customer to ask a question that is concerning him. This sales enhancing feature provides non threating, free information and is very convienent to all potential customers visiting your website. This is where a number of your Internet leads come from and are to be promptly answered by the sales people in an effort to earn the customers business.
There are other neat options like a photo gallary page where you put pictures of the people that work at the shop and a short statement about each. Coupons are big too. The customer prints the coupon out and brings it to the shop with him. Interactivly, after the sale, the managers can send email production progress reports to customers to cut down on phone time. The Internet customers prefer the email to phone calls. A secured credit card payment page to accept payment for repairs can be handy when Uncle Joe is paying for the repairs and he lives out of state. There is no limit to what your imagination can do on a website.
Your best bet is to find the middle ground. Ideally you want an attractive, interactive website to make a good first impression on the customer, but it must also load fast and be easy for the visitor to navigate and obtain information. The best advice I can give you is to keep it simple, informative and promptly interact with the customer via your email communications.
Websites are a great, stress free way for the customer to check out your shop before he has to bring his car in for repairs. Let's face it, for a customer, going to the transmission shop rates right up there with being a guest on Jerry Springer. A well designed website will bring in the Internet leads that you don't even have a chance at now if you don't have a commercial website.
I personally don't buy anything without first shopping on-line and the stats show that I am not alone. People are turning to the net to gather information before purchacing almost any product and that trend is growing by leaps and bounds every day. So, why should we assume an Internet shopper would view shopping for a transmission repair any different than shopping for any other product? If a shop has a website, the shopper can go to the website and find some of the information needed to make a decision with out phisically traveling to the shop,fighting the traffic and crouds and talking to a salesman. The website is open, answering customer questions, 24 hours a day and works for you when the shop is closed. Convienence is the key to Internet shoppers and as an end result, they are a more informed customer.
You can expect a well thought out website to get more leads for the shop than you are getting now if you are not using a commercial website to enhance your advertizing and sales stratagy. It stands to reason. Look at your website as part of your advertizing budget.
Traditional yellow page ads are expensive and shop owners have always had to choose very carefully what the ad consists of. You never have the space to put in everything you want to put in the ad. A website address placed in the ad allows the customer to easily go to the website and receive the rest of the story. If you have a website, you get to tell them the rest of the story. If your competitors don't have a website, they don't. You have a competitive edge because you have developed a more effective advertizing program for the Internet shopper. These Internet leads will result in sales and, depending on the site you develope and how well the sales people do, make you money.
You should know web design is changing rapidly for the better and is continuing to change very quickly. On-line shoppers, according to the latast serveys, want a website that loads fast and is easy to navigate. The heavy graphics, 3-D animation and anything else that takes away from the page load time is now being shyed away from by most website developers beceause of these latest serveys. Simply put, shoppers don't want pretty as much as they want fast and easy.
This fact spells savings to someone wanting to build a commercial website now beceause we don't have to pay the big bucks for all the bell and whistles that web developers thought the on-line shoppers wanted 2 years ago. Turns out they were kinda feeding their ego and their pocket book.
Internet leads are here now and there are many more Internet shopper leads to come according to the experts. The shop owner that stays on the cutting edge of Internet technology knows that now and it is a well kept secret.The real reason for having a website is to capture your share of the new market of Internet shoppers.
These are cheap leads when you put a pencil to it. There has never been a more affordable time to build a commercial website for your shop than now because of new technology and website design trend changes the Internet has experienced in the last two years. You can put up a basic commercial website for as little as 500.00 a year now. When you figure that into your advertising budget, that is less than 50.00 a month to attract Internet leads. Time is not on your side when you are talking about the Internet. Remember, your Internet customers are looking for you now and if you are not there, your competitors will be.