BMW April 2022

With Covid-19 leading people to live and work online like never before, collision repair businesses need to ensure they are utilising web-based opportunities to attract and retain customers. To help members build the most comprehensive and useful on-line presence possible, Bill Enross of cPrax Internet Marketing gave a presentation about building an on-line presence.

He is an automotive industry veteran of more than 40 years, Enross has spent the past 20-plus years developing on-line marketing solutions for body shops.

Not surprisingly, his discussion focused on how shops can optimise their local listings and make their websites better communication tools for consumers. He spent a considerable amount of time diving deep into the world of Google, specifically how to land in the “Google Local Three-Pack” – the top three results that come up in a search for auto body repair.

A shop’s ability to place itself in one of these prime spots comes down to three factors: Proximity (the physical distance from a business to the origin of the point of search), relevance (the degree to which a business’ listing matches what a person is searching for) and prominence (the strength of a business listing based on search engine optimisation (SEO) and signals from third-party sites (Facebook, Yelp, etc). Google reviews are also impactful.

“It’s important that you have at least 20% more reviews than your nearest competitor,” Enross explained. “That will help you get ahead of them or, at the very least, get listed in that Three-Pack and even get listed higher in it.” As the pandemic continues to necessitate touchless business-to-customer relations, Enross noted a rise in digital forms (including Direction to Pay, Repair Authorisation and insurer-specific documents) being incorporated into body shop websites. He also explained how two-way texting and online contact pages have aided in keeping consumers more engaged during the repair process.

Addressing websites aesthetics, he recommended that shops post individual photos of their team members as opposed to using group photos. This helps give the site a more personal touch while helping to avoid constant photo retakes when staff members leave or are hired.

In terms of traditional website features, he encouraged people to pay particular attention to strengthening their “About Us” pages, which are commonly overlooked sections that customers regularly review when selecting a business. “They want to know about you. People buy from real people.”

Business owners also need to ensure that their websites translate to mobile in a clear and easy-to-use fashion. “When you upload an image on your regular website, you want to make sure that the images automatically resize when it shows up on a mobile phone.”

Additionally, he stressed that those companies that have OEM certifications need to prominently display those credentials on their websites. “If you’ve gone through the process and investment is being certified, you really need to promote that.”

In an era where just about everyone has a voice over the internet or on their mobile phones, shops need to stay on top of online reviews (digital currency). While receiving a five-star review is always nice, he cautioned that having too many of them could turn off a potential customer who questions the legitimacy of across-the-board positive ratings. “A bad review here and there gives you that little bit of credibility.”

Of course, a bad review shouldn’t be allowed to fester online without a suitable response from the business in question. According to the SEO platform BrightLocal, 97% of consumers read companies’ responses to reviews. This means that shops need to be cautious in how they handle negative postings and always respond to them in a responsible and professional manner. “You need to look at a bad review not as the end of the world but as an opportunity to make a really, really happy customer.”

It is also critical for shops to make sure they regularly encourage customers to post online reviews, as BrightLocal reports that 84% of consumers think reviews older than three months are irrelevant. “If you haven’t had anything posted on there in the last 90 days then I feel you need to do some outreach.”