State legislation on disclosure and consumer consent involving the use of non-OEM parts has been proposed – or challenged – in a number of states this year. Panelists on both sides of the issue squared off at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) held in Chicago this summer.
When I began writing on this industry, there were no DRPs and all of the cars still had carburetors in them (remember those good old days?). Over the years, I have seen body shops step up in almost every way.
On Thursday, July 27, ALLDATA partnered with Google’s Automotive Marketing team to provide a free one-hour webinar on “Best Online Marketing Practices” for automotive shops, presented by Google Product Specialist Matt Krystofik.
The material, relevant for both collision and mechanical shops, was very informative, and the interactive webinar attracted more than 200 automotive industry professionals.
“Best Online Marketing Practices” discussed changing consumer and technology trends that shops need to know about, three ways to grow a business with Google tools, and resources to help shops keep up with changing digital behavior. Krystofik began by sharing his intent to help shops make their advertising “accountable, actionable and impactful using myriad tools.”
After explaining Google’s goal of connecting users with information they care about, Krystofik indicated that consumer behavior is changing constantly with technological advances. With smartphones readily providing the ability to research and consider their options, customers’ expectations are steadily increasing. Consumers have limited time, expect transparency that builds trust, and are guided by technology’s ability to easily connect them with a business.
Krystofik stressed, “Customers value interactions with little friction and where they can easily access the information they’re seeking at the moment they want it. Customers have more choices than ever, and if you don’t commit to speed, you’re losing customers.”
It is imperative for businesses to be present whenever, however and wherever the customer chooses to shop. Google projects that 80 percent of the $49 billion automotive parts sales industry in 2017 will be digitally influenced, compared to 78 percent in 2016.
Krystofik asked, “What are you doing today to future-proof your business? There’s never been a more important time to ensure you have a great digital storefront.”
Over the past five years, there has been a 57 percent decline in visits to brick and mortar stores, but each visit yields higher value because customers do their homework online and enter with a strong intent to make a purchase.
“Google My Business lets you take charge of what people see when they do a local search for your shop, plus it allows you to update your listing and engage with customers from a phone, tablet or desktop,” Krystofik stated. “Just as important, it’s free to use.”
Shop owners can update their Google My Business listing to adjust holiday hours, add a phone number or upload photos. These updates are made in real time, and the listing increases reach when customers search for that shop.
Krystofik advised, “Ask happy customers to post a review on your listing, because 70 percent of people trust online reviews from other customers.”
Google My Business also contains an Insights dashboard that reveals how customers interact with the shop’s listing, allowing the business to better target customers and attract new ones. Offering deals and providing updates on a listing is another key means of generating more sales and repeat customers.
Because everyone constantly uses their smartphones to research information, it’s important for businesses to build a great mobile experience. Shops can also generate and personalize a website from the listing.
According to Krystofik, “There are many powerful features available to drive business. Promote potential customers with a call to action, or employ the option for people to submit their contact information so you can call them at your convenience. Booking appointments online is not currently available, but will be coming soon.”
Krystofik then emphasized the importance of ensuring company websites load at an appropriate rate of speed.
Krystofik shared, “Fifty percent of people will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load, but on Insights, you can test your speed, see the number of customers being lost due to the slow load, and compare your site to industry competitors.
“Google’s free tools help you understand what’s on your customers’ minds – think of Google as a data source for intent. Google Trends shows what people research, allowing you to see shifts in customer behavior and determine how to best meet their needs or desires. Recently, we’ve seen an increase in ‘near me’ searches.”
Discussing how to recognize customers with a high intent to purchase, Krystofik recommended using Google Adwords, which includes a keyword planner to expand a shop’s reach, explore how keywords will perform, or help users choose optimal words for their Google advertising campaigns. Additionally, businesses only pay for the service when it results in people reaching out to them. The conversion tracking tool offers additional benefits by providing data on the results of ad clicks.
Krystofik stated, “Google offers great free resources to make the digital ecosystem much less daunting,” and encouraged his audience to register their Google My Business listing, compare their site to others, and utilize Google’s free data trend tools.
“Don’t lose potential customers before they walk in your door!” he said.
After the presentation, Krystofik held a Q&A session, providing hints for taking ownership of listings, submitting feedback for updated photos and maps, and using Google’s customer support numbers for problems with various features. He also reemphasized the importance of reviews, the significance of making websites mobile, and discussed the value of a YouTube channel with good content as a marketing tool.
Krystofik concluded with “one helpful hint – claim your Google My Business listing!”
Presented by ALLDATA, the 35-minute Google webinar, Best Practices for Marketing Your Shop Online, is currently available for on-demand viewing.
On July 25, the Houston Auto Body Association (HABA) hosted an “Estimating Solutions for Profit” seminar at the Westin Houston Memorial City Hotel in conjunction with training provided by Sherwin-Williams, an HABA sponsor.
The full-day seminar was taught by Sherwin-Williams Training Center Manager Michael Pellett.
HABA President John Kopriva stated, “Our Board has made a commitment to providing more training and assistance to our members. The days of trading insurer ‘war stories’ and being told ‘You are the only one’ are over.”
“Estimating Solutions for Profits” focused on how to develop and improve the skills necessary to become more profitable in today’s highly competitive collision market.
The seminar was designed to provide attendees with the necessary tools to write and negotiate more profitable estimates by getting paid for work performed, managing paint and materials for profit, utilizing real use of p-pages, effectively communicating with insurance appraisers, and creating a shop profit breakdown and analysis.
The educational session was limited to just 40 owners, managers and estimators to allow for more interaction.
According to Kopriva, “The day consisted of open exchanges of real, everyday issues involving getting paid for what shop technicians are required to do to meet manufacturer-required specifications and returning the vehicle back to its pre-loss condition.”
As HABA strives to bring more value to its members and improve the collision repair industry in their state, they are working closely with the Auto Body Association of Texas (ABAT) to support the Texas Auto Body Association Trade Show on August 25-26 at the Hurst Conference Center.
Kopriva shared, “We are trying to make a definite change in our industry, and we’ve got a really strong relationship with ABAT. We plan on making headway in Texas and have a lot of good training coming along. We want to provide education for shops and try to bring smaller shops along, so they understand exactly how important it is to repair these cars correctly and adhere to manufacturers’ recommended procedures.
“We are planning at least three more training events this year, one each month, and a planning workshop in December. We have big plans and are trying to be more active. Stay tuned because we have lots of exciting things going on in Texas!”
For more information on HABA, visit habaonline.org.
Representatives from four major insurance companies weighed in on scanning, automakers’ influence on consumers’ choice of shops, and referring drivers to OEM-certified shops at the sixth annual MSO Symposium.
Dave Ludwig, 58, owns Prestige Auto Body in Manchester, NH, a shop he started with just one helper back in 1986.
The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Illinois (AASPI) held its 2017 Golf Outing on August 3 at the Old Orchard Country Club in Mt. Prospect, IL.
On August 2, the Women’s Industry Network (WIN®) hosted a motivational webinar titled “Be Deliberate,” presented by Mike Jones, President of Discover Leadership Training.
Tim Briggs, 44, and his wife, Ginger Briggs, are the owners of Collision Edge and the inventors of many products, including The Tape Thing, The Dent Viewer and The Estimating Kit.
On July 17, ASA announced the addition of a new affiliate in MA and RI (ASA-MA/RI). The new affiliate’s Executive Director is Stephen Regan, who agreed to speak with Autobody News about his experience and plans for the group.
In July, AASP/NJ donated funds to support prostate cancer research for the second consecutive year, supporting Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in its efforts to combat the terrible disease.
With summer quickly coming to an end, the North Carolina Association of Collision and Autobody Repair (NCACAR) is gearing up to resume its quarterly meetings, training seminars and efforts to improve the collision repair industry in its state.
On July 10, ASA-MI held its 32nd Annual Golf Outing at the Eagle Eye Golf Course in East Lansing, MI, with 84 industry professionals in attendance. The weather was less cooperative than preferable.