Some 70 per cent of UK motorists want to use an independent garage rather than a main dealer. So, if that’s the case what’s stopping them from using you?
As a trade supplier to garages, at Garage Services Online, we know how to help independents get found above and amongst their competition online.
Over the last 11 years, we have helped hundreds of garages, including dozens of award-winning garages and garage networks to make the most of their online presence and bring in new business.
Here we outline the key barriers that independent garages face online and the approach we take to help independents persuade customers to make that switch.
The ways in which businesses and people interact have changed forever and the main driver of that change is the internet.
The increasing influence of the internet has shaped buying behaviour so that ‘location, location, location’ could be easily updated to ‘visibility, visibility, visibility’.
Most consumers use mobile phones / tablets to access the internet.
Second to that, the lock-down of 2020 resulted (unexpectedly) in nearly 50% of web searches being made by voice using SIRI, Alexa etc.
This has massive implications as to where garages need to focus their efforts to connect with their audiences who are using platforms like Google and Facebook and accessing them by using mobiles.
If the public can’t find you by the methods they are using as a garage owner you are going to lose out. So where do you start?
Start by seeing if your garage turns up in the local Google search results without using your garage’s name.
What would you search for? Think about who and what makes up your target audience?
You can start by using search terms that define the type of customers you want and the type of work you want coming in, e.g. your favoured marques (if you have them), the age range of vehicles you want to see coming in, the key services or repairs you want to be doing.
This will give you an idea as to how effective your garage’s online presence is in attracting customers and work.
If you are not appearing, then you need to review your website.
It may be that you already have content in place but the website (viewed as a container separate to the content) is creaking – it does not fulfil Google’s evolving standards such as it being mobile friendly, no SSL certificate, slow to download etc.
Equally, Google wants to marry the best answer to a question.
And that answer needs to be on your website in the form of well-written content. If it’s not written about, it can’t be found by customers – end of.
It is always valuable to reflect on how your business/your brand could be judged by customers (current and potential) however they engage with you.
So, if for example, you view your garage as a ‘true alternative to a main dealer’ in terms of your premises, your reception area etc. how does that translate to your online presence?
Once customers have found you, they need to be convinced you are the right choice, particularly if you are targeting customers with premium vehicles who will need reassurance that you are a ‘true alternative’ before they hand you the keys to their pride and joy.
With 75% of consumers admitting to making judgements on a company’s credibility based on the company’s website design, can you honestly say that your website portrays the credibility and image required to persuade a motorist from a main dealer.
Regardless of your reputation, skills and abilities on the ground, customers today will judge you on your online presence and given it takes about 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about your website and subsequently your business, it is vital that your website inspires that initial reassurance.
Therefore, in the battle to win customers from main dealers, poor websites may reaffirm a motorist’s concerns about making a switch from the ‘safe, familiar, reassuring’ main dealer background they are used to.
A good website testifies that they are making a good choice to switch because a professional website suggests a professional business where their car will be treated with the same standards they are used to.
You only get one first impression and if it is a negative one you will lose those customers before they have spoken to anyone or actually seen your premises.
Motorists want to use independent garages like you but face barriers, both real and psychological in making the switch.
Over 80% of consumers research on the internet before making a purchase decision so having an online presence which helps overcome these barriers is vital.
We know that garages can successfully overcome these barriers to expand their business and make their online presence reflect the true nature of their business on the ground.
Your website needs to be found in the right searches by motorists you are targeting.
It needs to reassure them that you are a ‘true main dealer alternative’ and the content and organisation of your website to educate your visitors to make them feel their decision to switch has been validated.
To overcome these barriers you need reach out where your target audience is looking, to foster the right perception of your garage and educate them as to why they should come to you.