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Motorist and Performance Interaction Has Moved Online. Have You?

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The numbers are mind-boggling: 134 million smartphones are used in the U.S. alone and every quarter 8% more Americans select a smartphone.

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By Uwe Kleinschmidt, CEO, AutoVitals

The numbers are mind-boggling: 134 million smartphones are used in the U.S. alone and every quarter 8% more Americans select a smartphone. If that doesn’t surprise you, maybe the following facts will: 59% of auto service customers under the age of 35 want to be communicated with via mobile applications and 31% of American mobile Internet users say that’s the primary way they access the web.

mobilecar

The direction is clear: your service counter interaction with customers needs to be complemented by online interaction. Websites present interactive ­information and have competition from social networks with easily consumable information. According to Google, motorists look for educational information and parts at a significantly higher degree than searching for services like “engine building” in your area.

Let’s explore ways of providing educational information, so that your prospects and existing customers don’t get their education from “the Internet” like the lady who found the French model in the famous State Farm commercial. Leverage your website and social networks to engage with prospects and ­existing customers to provide education, that is coming ­directly from you, the expert.

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Interaction At The Moment Of Need
I bet that you not only get solicitations from hundreds of vendors for your website, SEO and Facebook services, but also, just like your customers, you are asked to consume so much information in your inbox and on your phone, that it’s impossible to process it all. In fact, the amount of data generated on the Internet every minute (YouTube users upload 48 hours of video, Facebook users share 684,478 pieces of content, ­Instagram users share 3,600 new photos, etc.) suggests that new engagement strategies are ­needed.

The experts at AutoVitals ­researched the clicks on videos embedded in dozens of auto repair shop websites and the ­results are disappointing. Videos on the homepage of websites are clicked on between 1% and 9% of the time. Videos as part of blogs embedded in auto ­repair shop websites below the fold (visitors have to scroll down to watch them) are clicked on less than 0.5% of all clicks on that page. Why are the results so devastating? The answer can be summed up in two words: User Experience. If the ­information is not presented in the moment of need, it goes by unattended. The visitor of the website should find the answer to the reason why they came to the website in the first place.

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The good news is that performance shops are not e-commerce businesses like amazon.com where no personal contact is possible and all products are commoditized and readily available for price comparison. The key is to focus on the value a local business provides to the local community. You are your own brand with these features: Trusted, excellent customer service, personalized recommendations and ­vehicle-specific information.

Combine Your Social Power
Your business is on Facebook, isn’t it? Of course it is. Have you ever thought about amplifying the leverage of your business page in a cost-effective manner? Millions of motorists are on ­Facebook and have at least one friend who comes across your business page, or the business page of another shop that’s affiliated with the association to which you belong. Where individual reach might be limited, an ­association’s wide presence can help in ­attracting the motorist’s attention.

Uwe Kleinschmidt is the CEO and founder of AutoVitals in Santa Barbara, CA. The company’s Web-based services focus on the independent automotive repair industry. AutoVitals’ products facilitate highly effective Concierge Auto Repair ­services, covering all aspects of the service advisor’s interaction with prospective and existing customers. Highly effective and optimized websites, workflow support in the shop, as well as customer retention and social media ­services are just a few ingredients. He can be reached by ­visiting www.autovitals.com or calling 1-866-949-2848.

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