Local garages and other vehicle repair companies face increasingly challenging competition from expanding national franchises and the new breed of mobile services. One of the chief reasons these competitors are making headway in the market is because they are online. With the internet now being the first place customers look to find garage services, it is those with a website that are reaping the benefits. Here, we’ll explain why your auto repair business needs a website.
- The Internet is the customer’s first port of call
Today, anyone needing a vehicle repair, MOT, or service will begin their search online. Few people use directories anymore and no one is going to dig the local newspaper out of the recycling when they have a smartphone at their fingertips. If you don’t have a website so these customers can find you, the chances of getting new business are limited. Yes, you can always register with an online directory, like Yell, but these provide only limited information, such as contact details and opening hours. What most people want from such directory listings is a link to your website. If it merely gives a phone number, a customer will probably look elsewhere.
- A website is a service in itself
People choose a garage because it offers great service. In today’s market, great service goes beyond the expertise you provide in fixing or servicing their car; it begins with your website. The modern customer wants speed and convenience in the way they deal with auto repair businesses. This means everything they need from you should be available directly from your website.
That’s not simply information about the services you offer, your opening times and how to get in touch; today, they want to be able to book a repair, MOT or service directly from your site and pay for it online when it’s finished. They also want the ability to use website tools, such as those that help them find the right tyres or other parts. Additionally, they also want your website to provide services, such as sending automated reminders when an MOT or service is due or providing useful maintenance information, like legal tyre tread depths.
Increasingly, customers want fixed prices and the ability to book and pay for things in advance. Although this obviously can’t be done when the repair needs to be investigated first, there are many instances where it can, such as replacing a bulb, fitting a new tyre, carrying out a service or MOT. If you are going to compete with national franchises and mobile repair companies, you need to offer the price transparency and booking convenience that many of their sites already do.
Is it worth investing in a website? There are three solid reasons why having a website makes it worthwhile. First and foremost, providing the online services customers want will attract more new business. Secondly, by letting your website take care of bookings, sales and payments automatically, it can save you hours of work and enable you to carry out more repairs. Finally, a survey by business research giant, Gartner, has shown that 82% of consumers will pay more for great customer experience. A modern website provides those experiences and, as a result, you won’t need to undercut prices to keep customers happy.
- Boost customers by building your reputation
Customers increasingly rely on the recommendations of others before choosing to use the services of any business. They’ll ask for recommendations on Facebook, visit review sites like Trustpilot and look for star ratings on social media, Google and listings sites. In addition, they’ll also look at testimonials on your website.
Obviously, plenty of good reviews will help you gain new customers and lots of bad ones will drive customers away. Not having any reviews, however, leaves potential customers completely in the dark. Some will not use you, simply because of a lack of reviews, while others will find it suspicious in the modern day that a business doesn’t ask for reviews.
A website is the starting point for using reviews to help you generate a better reputation and grow your customer base. Firstly, once you have a website, you can register for a free Google My Business account which enables customers to leave feedback and lets other users read those reviews on Google itself. In addition, if you have registered with review sites, like Trustpilot, you will be able to display the ratings on your website for all visitors to see, like this:
And if a customer wants to read the reviews, they just have to click to see them. Social proof like this is very helpful in giving new customers the confidence to book their car in with you for the first time.
- Get found by more customers
In the section above, we mentioned Google My Business as a place where you can get reviews. It is, however, useful for several other reasons. When you create a free Google My Business account, your company will be listed in the Google business directory. When someone local searches for an auto repair company, your business has a good chance of appearing in the results. You may even get a place marker showing your location on Google Maps which are often used by people to find urgent repairs nearby.
What’s more, if someone makes a specific search for your company, your business details, images, opening times and customer reviews will be displayed on the right side of the screen.
- Put your expertise and services on show
One of the key advantages of a website is that you can promote the services that you offer. In doing so, you are not only able to provide written details; you can also upload images that illustrate the quality of your work and your premises and specialist equipment.
Besides, modern websites enable you to create portfolios of your best work and provide blog posts and videos that help customers solve problems with their cars. These, in turn, help build an audience of followers which can grow your business even more.
- 24/7 garage
While most garages open 8 am until 5 pm, five or six days a week, vehicle owners want to get in touch every day, around the clock. What’s more, the nature of the work means telephone calls often go straight to an answering machine and by the time you call back, the customer has gone elsewhere.
A website puts your information online 24/7 and, if you offer booking services, means customers can book in their car conveniently, even when you’re closed or stuck under a bonnet. What’s more, it will provide them with alternative means of getting in touch no matter what time of day, whether by contact form, email, SMS, or even via website chatbot.
The internet is now the preferred method of finding a local auto repair company and this makes a website an essential tool for your business. Indeed, modern customers expect that your site will offer them a speedy and convenient way to find out about, book and pay for your services and get in touch. Of course, you’ll also need great web hosting with 24/7 technical support included, so that your website is reliable and secure and that you have expert help with any issues.
If you run a local auto repair business and are considering a website, take a look at our affordable cPanel hosting packages.