1) Too expensive to create a site. One body shop owner was crying on my shoulder recently. “My website cost me $7,000 and it still doesn’t work. Websites are a waste of money!” Not true. By doing it yourself using any of the new website building sites out there, it can cost you in the hundreds, rather than thousands. Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYs) are building their own websites more and more, because the technology has become so much easier to use. And with so many developers out there competing for your business, the prices for websites are lower than ever!
“You can get a basic one-page website now that will cost you $99, but when it comes to anything it’s always image perceived, mission achieved,” Iraola said. “If you’re really tight on funds and can’t find enough money to dedicate a modest budget for a website, find a hungry webmaster and if he charges you more than $400 for a simple 1–3 page website, just keep looking.”
2) Too costly to maintain. A collision center manager I know wanted to strangle his web developer, but I explained to him that’s illegal. “My Internet guy (a friend of a friend—first bad move) is charging me $300 every month to supposedly maintain my website, but if he’s spending 10 minutes on it I would be amazed. It is a money drain!” This happens, but it does not have to. By working with a company like www.CollisionWeb sites.com, you can maintain a website easily and affordably. And by using Word Press, for example, it’s easy to make changes and add features. The old days of developers charging you top dollar to hold your website hostage are long gone.
Iraola agreed that website development is now affordable for any business of any size, but shops should still do their due diligence before contracting any developer.
“Everyone and their brother is jumping into this industry and many of them don’t know what they’re doing. Make sure you meet with several people before you make a decision, because I am hearing horror stories all the time now and if you hire the wrong company, it can be an absolute nightmare. Ask them what platform they use and always look at samples of their work. Ask them for references and call them, because if they miss deadlines (a chronic problem in this industry) that is a bad sign right off the bat.”
3) Takes too much time. One shop’s marketing manager was changing content on his site, and because he had an old platform, he was sunk. “Six hours and I couldn’t even add an address! The hours keep adding up and it’s not worth it!” Another legend that just isn’t true. If your website is well-designed, it will not require a large amount of additional time once it’s been built.
“If you work smart and get the right developer, a basic website can be up and online rather quickly,” Iraola explained. “For a 2–3 page site, I can usually get it done within 7–10 working days. For something a little more elaborate (5–10 pages) it can take as much as three weeks to a month. These developers that take 3–4 months to do a website are either stalling or inexperienced, because it should never take that long. In this business, we have cycle times too, but many of these website companies aren’t as deadline-focused as they should be.”
4) It does not get results. Too many shops expect the phone to start ringing one day after launching their website. “I’ve had my site up for three months and I got just one phone call!” one shop owner whined. “How do you track your new customer responses?” I asked him. When he revealed he doesn’t, I asked him how do you know how many leads you’ve received from your website? The Internet isn’t going away and it’s a proven vehicle for you getting new business. Body shops all over the country are getting 10–80 cars or more on a monthly basis via the Internet, so if it’s not working for you, you need to re-analyze your site, as well as the way you track results.
“I tell everyone that marketing your shop online is an ongoing endeavor and not something that will realistically get you instant results,” Iraola said. “It’s not like a DRP that will bring you cars right away. Online marketing does not have a start and completion date like a car repair. If you’re in the game, you’re in it for the duration, and you better be in it to win it! If a web developer tells you that the phone is going to start ringing the same day your site goes live, they’re lying, because no one can claim that.”
5) Everybody already knows us. When I hear this objection, I am always shocked. “We’re the #1 shop in this area, so a website isn’t necessary,” a body shop owner smugly explained to me one evening at an industry event. “Really? Really?” is all I could say. Maybe everyone in your region knows about you right now, but what are you going to do when another shop opens up down the street? If you mention Coca-Cola to anyone on this planet, they will know the brand. Yet, the soft drink manufacturer spends millions and millions of dollars annually on advertising, including online. Are you more well-known than Coke? Not likely. No company is so successful that it does not need a presence on the Internet, so unless you’re getting ready to close the doors and retire, you NEED a site and you need one yesterday!
“When company owners tell me they can succeed without having a website or any presence online, I tell them they’re being silly,” Iraola said. “Just because you’ve been doing business in the same area for many years does not mean you don’t need to do any advertising or marketing. That’s absolutely ridiculous, especially when there is a ton of competition out there. If you don’t have a working website, it means you’re leaving a ton of money on the table and in the end, some other shop will be getting those cars. Unless you’re Donald Trump or just won the lottery, you need a website and it’s not even open for discussion, in my opinion.”