You probably think that digitalization of communication is only useful and accessible to dealership or franchise networks. You have been an independent garage owner for several years and you are — legitimately — proud of your business and its results. Your customer base is well established. So what would a website do for you ? If you haven't changed in all that time, your customers probably haven't. It would be unfortunate if they turned away from your services because you haven't gone digital. This article is our chance to look back at all the great reasons you have to create a website for your car garage. Gaining visibility allows you to increase your customer base, but also to consider diversifying your offer. Are you still in doubt ? The following is for you !
If you're not yet convinced of the relevance of creating a website for your garage, put yourself in the shoes of a customer and try to think like them. If they are looking for a garage for a repair or a visit, their first instinct will be to type in Google "Garage [Name of town]". The world's most used search engine will then offer him a complete list of garages, among which you will not appear, because you will not have worked to make yourself visible on the web.
The website Siècle Digital, published in February 2021 the key figures of a study on the use of the internet and social networks last year. Almost 90% of the British population has an internet connection. British internet users mainly surf from their mobile phones and their favourite search engine remains Google.
Creating a website therefore allows a customer to find you, come to you and get to know your world, even before they have met you.
Asserting your online presence goes beyond creating a Google My Business account, which is an essential prerequisite for any self-respecting entrepreneur. A GMB listing is a good start, it allows you to be present in the huge Google directory and to be visible on Google Maps. But it risks leaving Internet users wanting more, as the format is as impersonal as possible. A site allows you to stand out from the competition and win the decision.
Let's talk about the competition. Denying yourself a digital presence does not allow you to compete on equal terms with other companies in your industry, which is, remember, extremely competitive. You may not be comfortable with digital communication and digital tools, but you should no longer ignore them.
Try the user experience again and browse the websites of repair shops in your geographical area. How does their offering differ from yours ? Is it better ? What is certain is that the website allows you to make an initial contact, and your competitors have understood this well.
Don't forget that you are not only up against other independent garage owners, you also have to deal with the powerful garage networks.
The one in Top Garage claims 800 workshops throughout the UK. In return for a monthly fee, member garages benefit from Top Garage's marketing and communication tools to increase their visibility in their region.
The giants Vroomly or even IDGARAGES compare prices and availability of some 3 000 garages. They each claim hundreds of thousands of requests for quotes every month on their site and often get national press coverage.
Certainly, the partner garages have not invested any money in their own websites, but they certainly enjoy the benefits of a well-orchestrated online presence.
What should you put on your website ? First of all, start by presenting your garage, your team and your values. There's no need to write pages of it, the average internet user is in a hurry and often impatient. The formula must be short and effective.
Then devote one or more pages to detailing and highlighting your services, especially if they set you apart from the competition. Your website is a showcase that allows you to communicate on your expertise, but also on your good deals and promotions of the moment. It is also an opportunity to offer new services, such as online appointment booking, for example.
Don't hesitate to post a few quality photos, especially if you specialise in the renovation of exceptional cars. A good picture is worth more than a hundred words and a well photographed before/after will easily convince a future client to trust you.
You can finally link a blog to your site. This is not mandatory, but greatly appreciated by Internet users. The blog allows you to provide free content with high added value, in the form of articles or video tutorials. Well-written and well-targeted content allows you to gain visibility and, who knows, to appear in the first search results of Google.
A website is also an opportunity to diversify your business offering. If you're thinking of getting into used car sales or selling spare parts, acquiring customers will inevitably involve a well-planned online presence.
At this point in the thinking process, three questions come to mind :
Reassure yourself, a business owner very rarely has the time to devote to all these (often very technical) aspects of his or her digital communication.
We strongly advise you to call on one or more web professionals. If the rates of a communications agency make you cold, call on freelancers for development, graphics and content writing. As good professionals, they will be able to guide you and advise you as accurately as possible. But above all, resist the urge to entrust this task to an acquaintance who « knows a thing or two about it ». You risk wasting your time and money. You will most certainly miss out on all the potential and opportunities that the web has to offer.
The garage profession is one of the most distrusted, along with the locksmith profession. There are countless articles online that revel in the subject. You garage owners are often unscrupulous, eager to inflate prices, guilty of charging for services not performed. Independent mechanics, however, fare better than branded dealerships or car service centres and enjoy a more positive image.
Creating a website is not a miracle cure, we agree on that point. It nevertheless helps to create a closeness with your customers, as the site is perceived as a desire for transparency on your part. This perception is accentuated if a garage is posted on social networks where exchanges are more direct.
Don't think that social networks are a matter for young people ! According to the Moderator's Blog, the share of « silver surfers » on social platforms is constantly increasing : Facebook is growing by 25% among the 65+ in 2020, Instagram + 63% among 55-64 years olds and Snapchat is recording an increase of 33 among the 50+.
Ready to embark on the digital adventure ? Check out all of our blog posts, they're full of great advice for professionals - young and old - in the automotive repair industry.