Volume 8, Issue 3        May/June  2006

Side Lites
Guest Opinion


Are You Part of the Revolution?
by D.G. Carson

As an auto glass installer, you have a kit of specialized tools. You probably drive a truck. And you definitely rely on your cell phone. But how often do you use the Internet as a tool in your business?

If you’re a large firm, you might have extensive Internet advertising. If you’re a medium-sized company, you probably at least have e-mail. But if you’re a small company, you may not use the Internet at all.

The fact is that the Internet doesn’t help you get your windshield installations done. But what about keeping your schedule full? Here’s where the Internet can change your life.
(It can even make your busy seasons better, too, by screening customers so that you only see the qualified ones and don’t spend time chasing down people who aren’t serious.)

One, Two, Three
Here are three basic ways you can increase your business with the power of the Internet.

1. Create a simple web site.
Your site is a storefront on the web. It works for you 24/7, and it’s easy to update. The only information you really need on your starter web site can fit onto one page—your contact information, some information about your business and the quality of your work.

As you begin to see the potential of the web, you can build more on your site, even develop ways for your customers to get auto glass quotes online or request service, without ever picking up the phone.

Ask friends and family if they can recommend a reputable company to create a web site for you, or show you how to create your own. Once you have your web site set up, you’ll have to direct customers to it from other sites.

2. Market with search engines and online directories. 
These are some of the most important sites that will send customers to your web site. What’s the difference between the two?

Search engines are sites that index content on the Internet so that you can find the information you’re looking for—like Google™ and Yahoo!®. For example, if one of your customers goes to www.google.com and types in “windshield repair cleveland ohio” he or she will get a list of web sites for auto glass repair specialists in Cleveland.

For a relatively small investment, you can buy your way onto these search engines by paying for “sponsored links.”

Online directories are rapidly replacing phone books and other directories in many customers’ minds. They are updated more often and easier to use than the yellow pages.

When you list your business with one of these sites, you don’t have to have a Web site. You can have customers phone you after they find your ad.

With radio, TV, and phone book advertising, you pay regardless of how many customers you get, and you’re locked into a contract.

But the best thing about search engines and online directories is that you pay for actual results. With “pay-per-click,” you pay a small amount each time an interested customer clicks on your ad link and visits your Web site.

3. Partner with an online marketing company.
If you’re ready to break away from traditional advertising and get customers from the Internet, but you don’t want to invest in a Web site or Internet advertising, an online marketing company, such as the one I work for, could be your ticket.

Online marketing companies use their own web sites and Internet advertising to attract customers. Then they qualify the customers, set up service, take payment, and send the customer to you. When you complete the job, you get paid.

Advertising on the Internet isn’t free, and it isn’t always easy. But it can be much more effective than traditional kinds of advertising, especially phone book ads. And if you do it right, you can get better customers delivered right to you. 

D. G. Carson is director of web content for 89Glass, a Walla Walla, Wash.–based company which sells auto glass replacement services over the Internet.

© Copyright 2006 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.