In today’s increasingly digital world, it is more important than ever to have an easy to find online presence. Customers are turning to the web to find the services they need quickly and easily and if they can’t find your shop online, it could be costing you money.
As the largest lubricant distributor in the United States, PetroChoice has worked with a huge range of companies both large and small. Some of the websites we see are great. Others aren’t. But we see a lot of customers who don’t have a web presence at all, particularly some of the smaller, privately owned shops we supply. This can be problematic for these shops, as it makes them difficult to find and puts them at a competitive disadvantage when compared to their rivals who are online.
Typically, the first step for customers looking for an auto service center or repair shop is going to be to open up a search engine, search “auto service centers near me” and click the first result they see. If they can’t find any relevant information, like hours of operation, services offered, cost or a phone number, they are most likely going to move on. If they can’t find your shop, you may have lost a potential customer.
So how do you get started? There are a few paths you can take, with some involving more than others. You can still build out a online presence with limited digital knowledge for low, or in some cases, no, cost.
Use a Hosting Service
Many small businesses use low cost web hosting services to help them build their websites. Most of these services offer limited functionality, but almost all of them will be more than enough to build a simple page with your location, phone number, hours, services and photos. Some even have developers that will help you build your site (though they will most likely charge extra for this). Sites built on these services can look very professional, but they do take a little more work to build and might require someone with a little more knowledge on how to do that than the other options. Learn more about hosting service options here.
In addition to hosting services, you can also find free website builders online. These sites are a little more user friendly and can also make some good-looking pages. However, most of them won’t allow you to remove their branding from your site or their name from your URL (IE: instead of www.myshop.com, you would have www.myshop.websitebuilder.com) which can come off as unprofessional and turn some customers off. You can learn more about website builders here.
Use Social Media
If you don’t want to invest the resources into building a site, you can always establish a social media account for your shop. Facebook and LinkedIn are both relatively easy to use and allow you to create pages for your business. These can help you gain more exposure for no cost at all. However, customers won’t be able to see the full details if they don’t have an account or aren’t logged in and their functionality is limited.
Putting your shop out there on the web may seem like a daunting task. Chances are your automotive care center doesn’t employ a web developer or have a huge budget to build out an online presence. While working through this process, remember:
- Your site doesn’t have to look like the big guys – If you are the owner of a small shop, don’t feel the need to build a site that looks like it belongs to a huge corporation. Those companies have dedicated teams and plenty of funding. You are just trying to establish a foothold and get your information out there
- Search for Yourself – Do a quick web search for your business before making any decisions. Don’t be surprised if you find automatically generated pages about your shop. While they are better than nothing, these pages don’t contain enough information to adequately help customers and can sometimes be inaccurate. Plus, they are usually very far down in search results, so most people won’t see them at all.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – While most of the solutions offered are fairly simple, they still do require some computer knowledge. Maybe you are pretty good with a PC and can figure it out yourself. If you are, that’s great. But if you are completely computer illiterate, reach out to someone, be it a friend, family member or even employee who might be able to help. The person doesn’t need to be a web developer, but some computer skills may be required.
Taking your shop online can help bring in new customers and increase revenue. While you may end up incurring some costs, ensuring customers can find you online is critical in the digital age.