Volume 9, Issue 5 - October 2007

Driving Technology
understanding today's business practices

Cheaper, Better and Faster
by Gary Hart

Once upon a time, not so long ago, you only had a few options at your disposal to advertise your services to potential and existing customers, mainly; direct mail, newspaper, television and radio. While these mediums still exist, they may not be the best method for you to reach your audience. For the last year or so the AGRR industry has been inundated with all kinds of promises of the biggest electronic marketing vehicle, the Internet. 

But you have to go beyond just having a website. Without a doubt, you do need to have a website and it must contain some key elements to be successful. Above everything else, though, make sure that you provide multiple ways for potential customers to contact you, including telephone and fax numbers and an e-mail address. 

You will want to make sure that the e-mail address you provide receives the greatest attention. Time and time again I have seen businesses make the fatal error of providing an e-mail address for first customer contact—and then wait several days to check it. The rule of thumb is to reply or make contact within the first 12 to 18 hours of the e-mail being sent; otherwise the customer will go somewhere else.

The Landing Page
Another key element for your website is to provide clearly what services you offer and to include customer testimonials right on the “landing page.” This page is the first area of your website the consumer views when he arrives. For instance, a landing page may contain the following statement: “XYZ Glass services the greater Phoenix area since 1990, providing onsite automotive glass repair and replacement. XYZ Glass prides itself on quality and safety by following industry best practices and procedures. Thousands of customers have trusted XYZ Glass with the handling of their repair and replacement needs. Don’t take our word for it—click here to see our customer testimonials and then call us at 555/555-1212 or use our online scheduler to arrange an appointment today.” 

Whatever wording you use, it must convey trust and action. Don’t clutter your landing page with manufacturer logos, either. Rather, use actual pictures of your company at work.

You may choose to add other content to your website, but keep in mind that most consumers only want to know when the job can be done and how much it will cost them. Most consumers will not care about what glass you use or even what associations you belong to because it means nothing to them. As always, keep it simple.

Beyond the Web
Beyond the website you should establish the practice of collecting e-mail addresses. Anytime someone contacts your company for a quote or more information, you should at the very least get their first and last name, telephone number and e-mail address. Get in the practice of sending thank-you e-mails even for someone who simply called for a quote or asked a question. After you have performed a repair or replacement, you should send out a thank-you e-mail followed by a customer satisfaction questionnaire. 

Create a monthly e-mail newsletter that contains fun items like trivia, car care, detailing information and, of course, advertisements for your services. Your newsletter also can become an advertising vehicle for complementary automotive services such as oil, tires, transmission checks, car washes and so on. You can create cross-marketing arrangements with these other businesses to have them promote your services while allowing them to advertise in your newsletter with or without a fee. 

Off the Web
The non-electronic marketing programs still require your attention as they supplement your Internet initiatives. It is essential that you list your website name and e-mail address in any of these traditional mediums. If you have company trucks or vans, you also should advertise your websites there, even mention that you provide “Online quotes and scheduling 24 hours a day at www.xyzglass.com.”

Today’s consumers face hectic schedules and don’t always have the ability to make inquiries for something like automotive glass repair or replacement. Providing the ability for them to contact you, get quotes and make their own appointments is critical for you to attract new business. Don’t ignore these simple electronic marketing methods because your competition is adopting these practices and are establishing themselves as market leaders. 

Gary Hart is chief executive officer and president of eDirectGlass in Scottsdale, Ariz. Mr. Hart’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.