It’s no secret that many of you thrive in business due to excellent, word-of-mouth referrals. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to build trust and a pool of steady customers. However, if you aren’t seeing people come through your door via word of mouth, or you want to increase business outside those repeat customers, a working website might be exactly what you need.
No matter how good your business may be doing today, it’s no longer an acceptable business practice to not have a website that works. Today, people of all ages are using the internet and smart phones to search for services and information, even in an industry like ours. In fact, some people are so reliant on these devices that despite the fact your business may have been in one location for the past 30-50 years, a majority of people won’t know it exists because you’ve neglected to build a website that people can search for.
Having a working website and keeping it up-to-date is critical if you want people to know about your services and grow your customer base. Engine Builder magazine recently caught up with the folks at Ray Barton Racing Engines (RBRE) to talk about why they got a website and how it’s been helping bring customers to the Chrysler/HEMI-focused shop.
Ray Barton’s son, David, is general manager of the Robesonia, PA engine shop, and is responsible for handling the website duties. Admittedlyt, RBRE did have a website in place prior to the one it currently has – but David thought it looked like a high school project rather than a professional business.
“I actually pulled it off the internet for quite some time before we launched our latest version,” David says. “I had to completely start over and wipe the slate clean. My vision was to have a catalog-style site that I can use it my own reference, rather than search through our vendor’s catalogs. Another key idea was to have sexy pictures of cars, engines and parts. Nothing sells better than a nice quality picture of a product.”
The look of your website says a lot. For someone who hasn’t been in your shop before, and is viewing your website online, this acts as a first impression. What would you rather have – a barely functioning high school project, or a high-quality, photo-rich, well-working website? Those were the options David had too.
“I wanted the new site to show good, quality images to explain what we are about,” he says. “I can write paragraphs about how good we are, but nothing explains it better than a picture to grab your attention. Videos also do a great job and we have a few on the website.”
Building a website that works can require a lot of talk and dreaming in your head about what it could look like, but all that talk is worthless if you don’t actually invest the time and resources to get it built.
“I stumbled over another website from an engine builder in California who had the same sort of vision I had,” David says. “From what I understand, his shop really isn’t anything special, but the images made his place look like a top notch operation. My thought was, if they look this good in a dumpy location, imagine what we can do?”
While the process of creating a website, or updating an old one won’t always be easy or cheap, the benefits of doing it are worth it.
”It has helped our business tremendously because it gives people a menu to look at,” David says. “I still feel I am way behind in adding content, but it gives people something to start with and a way to familiarize themselves with our business and services.”
Some of you may be saying, “I don’t need a website because I’m already so busy.” If you’re a good engine builder, that may be true; however, you never know for what reason a website could help you until you have one.
“We have had tons of work over the years simply by winning races, getting into magazines, TV shows, etc.” Barton says. “The one thing we didn’t realize the website would help us with was selling parts. It gives people an idea of what we sell. Without the website people assumed we only built engines.” Visit www.raybarton.com to see more.
Whether you think you’re getting by without a website, or that it’s not worth the investment, you won’t truly know until you try. With the way everyone searches for information and finds services these days, is not having a website, or skating by with a poor-quality one, a risk you want to take?