THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business - July '15

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78 n Performance & Hotrod Business n July 2015 BUSINESS The assumption is that a different type of business card will get you noticed and make you stand out from the crowd. However, in the world of business cards, an odd shaped or sized card simply makes us uncomfortable. The card doesn't fit neatly into our stack of cards or the designated pocket of our leather portfolio. The card normally ends up in the trash can. A website is nothing more than an elec- tronic business card. Just like a business card, there are standards and expectations for the content and design of your website. Very often, when we are called to review an underperforming website, it is largely due to the owners wanting their website to stand out from the crowd with a unique look and feel. Websites with flashy video intro- ductions and odd layouts don't get you noticed. They get you ignored. We have reviewed dozens of the best shop websites from around the country. All of the best sites tend to have very similar layouts and content. This should come as no sur- prise, because every shop has a very similar customer base it is attempting to reach. Based on our review, there are seven key compo- nents to any shop website that are essential to maintain a beneficial online presence: Location. The majority of your custom- ers will come from your immediate geo- graphical area, so you need to make sure you clearly show your location on your home page. Very often, websites will hide the location of the shop at the footer of the page. Even if you have a customer base that reaches nationwide, your address should be prominently displayed throughout your website. Many websites will incorporate the city and state of their shop into the graphic logo that appears on their home page. Contact. Provide as many methods of contacting you as possible. Be sure to have your address and email information displayed on every page of your website. While most of your hot rod customers will most likely still prefer the telephone for initial contact, you want to provide every conceivable method of communication. For this reason, you must have links to your Facebook and other social media accounts on your site. Social media should be considered another method for poten- tial customers to contact you. Finally, add a "contact us" form to your website. Your goal is to allow the consumer to contact you in the manner in which they are most comfortable. Services. Do not take it for granted that viewers of your website know all of the things you do at your shop or retail store. Provide a list of the services you offer, no matter how small. Don't write long para- graphs about each service. Rather, pro- vide a long bullet point list of services, showcasing the depths of service you are able to provide. A website viewer wants to receive information quickly and accu- rately. Therefore, be precise and specific in identifying the services you offer. If you are not sure what services to list, visit other hot rod shop websites that you respect and see what they have listed. Experience. Your customers are not just buying vehicles and parts from you. They are buying your expertise and experience also. Treat your staff and skills as assets of the company. List the experience and skill sets of your staff on your website. Post photos of your staff to let customers know that they are real people, with real skills. Facilities. Once again, use your web- site to provide credibility to what you do. Let the website viewer know about your shop or store. List the size of the facilities, equipment and machinery housed onsite, and any unique competencies such as paint booths and lifts. You want potential cus- tomers to know that you are a professional shop. A photo of your shop will go a long way to provide legitimacy to your business. Vehicles. Your business is all about vehi- cles. So, show them off on your website! Your website must have photo galleries of your vehicle projects. Unfortunately, this is one of the most abused and underval- ued components of most shop websites. Remember that your website is a profes- sional business card for potential custom- ers. Therefore, your photos should be pro- fessional in content and appearance. All of your photos should be in focus and show- case important elements of the build. And, if possible, add a sentence or two of text to explain each photo you post. Remember, if you want to post silly shop photos of your staff, use Facebook or Instagram for them. Steve's Auto Restorations, featured in the April 2015 issue of Performance & Hotrod Business, brings many strong elements together on its website, realsteel.com. Recent Accolades are easy to find on the Mo' Muscle Cars website, momusclecars.com. One of the latest projects from Blake Meaux, Mo's owner, was featured in the March 2015 issue of Performance & Hotrod Business.

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