Top 10 Mistakes Collision Repair Shops Make Online

Part 1 of 2

As you might imagine, we have nearly seen it all online in the 14+ years we’ve been in business. I personally have been in at least 1,500 shops across the country, conducted hundreds of workshops, done over 2,500 free web analyses, written 100 BodyShop Business magazine columns on being effective online and more. We’ve seen what shops are doing (or not doing) with their websites, social media, directory listings and reputation management. We truly have seen the good, the bad, and yes… the ugly. With this in mind, let me share with you the top 10 mistakes we have seen shops make online. Many of these are mistakes that collision repair businesses don’t even realize they have made or are actively making. Importantly, we also know exactly what to do about these mistakes as well. So, let’s begin…

1. Not keeping up with the times- In our world, as a web marketing agency, it is a challenge even for us to keep up with the times online. But we do it and it takes a real commitment of time and energy. You don’t have that kind of time to keep up with the algorithm changes at Google, or the required security updating in programming code. You most likely haven’t researched what the best days and hours of the day are to post on your Facebook or Instagram pages, etc. etc. By the same token, we at Optima Automotive don’t have the time to keep up with all the ADAS stuff or EV’s. We know just enough about these things, and other things in your world, to be dangerous. And you might know just enough to understand some of what you need when it comes to online marketing but you probably don’t have the skill sets to address these things. Truth is… most shop owners and managers are most comfortable with the nitty gritty of fixing cars, not understanding what makes an effective website or an engaging social media presence.  One answer is to either block out some time to learn, time you don’t have, attend training and do it yourself. That’s not going to happen, nor am I going to go get trained on how to work on cars. Your other, more reasonable answer, is to know what you need, from a 30,000 foot level, and outsource to true professionals who stay on top of these things, like my company at Optima Automotive.

2. Own everything related to your shop’s online presence- As the owner of your business you should have ALL the keys to your castle (the topic of one of my recent blogs).  That means you should have the logins and passwords to everything related to your online presence. That includes:

  • Domain name registration. Not just the username and password, but you should also own the rights to your domain, not your developer, staff member or anyone else.
  • Website server logins, both for content management and for access to your database (also called FTP access)
  • Email account passwords and setups
  • Ownership of your Google My Business page
  • Full admin rights to your social media accounts and YouTube channel

3.  Letting the company domain name expire- Know when your domains are set to expire and renew these at least 90 days in advance. If your domain registration ever expires you could lose it to someone else, usually a domain broker who preys on those who are asleep at the wheel. If that happens you’ll pay dearly to get it back, if you can get it back at all. That would mean your website would need to be put up under a new domain name and any recognition your old website might have from search engines would be gone. You’d be starting at ground zero. You’d also have to switch all your email accounts over as well. This is one of the biggest nightmares you can image with your online presence. Trust me, you do not want this to happen to you. This happened twice in the past two weeks to shops we are aware of.

4. Cyber security- Your company usernames and passwords are vulnerable to attack. Sensitive, private data is valuable to the wrong people, bad people.  Any personal browsing of websites, Facebook, etc. on work computers can put the entire company at risk. One click on the wrong thing and your data could be compromised, held for ransom and much more. Your company needs strict guidelines in place (maybe an entire section in your employee handbook, you have one of those, right?).  You must have highly secure passwords. Your team should be trained and held accountable for protecting the company. No matter what you do, nothing will ever be foolproof. However, addressing these issues can save you a lot of headaches. Optima Automotive has a Cybersecurity Workshop available that will educate you and your team on what you need to know and do to protect yourselves. Click HERE for more information.

5. Using social media for marketing and advertising- How often do you potentially see a customer, on average?  According to the statistics we are aware of, that’s once every 7 years or so. Studies have shown that people do not want to be marketed to or see advertising on social media, at least not a lot of it. When we do an analysis of a shop’s web presence we too often see nothing but before and after photos, pictures of paint being sprayed, pictures of sparks flying off grinders and cars up on a bench. They post their reviews and their OEM certifications. The dirty little secret is that people simply don’t care, at least not until they need a body shop. That could be months from now, likely years. So, why would we try marketing and advertising to an audience where only a small percentage need a body shop today? They’ll unfollow you and you’ll never get them back. That raises the next question then… What should you post? After over a decade, we have found that the public prefers posting that is relationship building between your audience and your brand. Posting that adds value to people’s lives. Examples are topical things, local events, your community service outreach, driving tips, car care tips, etc.  These are non-offensive postings that will get your profile image (which must be your logo) in front of your target audience’s newsfeeds on a regular basis. Then, someday, when they need a body shop they’ll remember you.

Next time we’ll address the final five mistakes collision repair shops make online. You don’t want to miss it. And remember, the professionals at Optima Automotive can help you with all of this and more, click HERE for more information.

Authored by Mark Claypool, President and CEO of Optima Automotive