According to Web.com, “Nearly three-quarters of all US households have Internet access, and more than 85% of users say they find new businesses through Internet search engines.” That means nearly 200 million people check the web looking for businesses to spend money with. A windshield repair or headlight restoration business is no exception. So, will they be able to find your business?
A great feature of the internet is the number of options it presents, so having a web presence does not need to be complicated or costly. These options range from a free listing using Google’s Places service to a multi-page website integrated with social media channels. The goal, whatever option you choose, is to convince your customers to pick up the phone and hear what you have to say.
Google Places is the quickest way to hang your shingle out on the World Wide Web. A basic account is free and easy to set up. (In fact, your business might already be listed so make sure the information is accurate!) A Places listing will bring your company profile up during relevant searches in Google Maps, web searches, and Google’s 411 directory service.
Another free listing, which I’m sure you’ve already taken advantage of, is WindshieldReferral.com. With this free listing you can describe your company, list hours, and solicit customer feedback. Customers find you by typing in their zip code or searching by state and city.
If you want to step it up a bit with a website, you will need a domain name, hosting service and a site design. You will purchase your domain name from a registrar, most of which also offer hosting services. Prices for web hosting with free e-mail start at under five dollars per month and go up from there.
In fact, your internet service provider (ISP) may offer free hosting services and some hosting companies offer free domain registration with the purchase of a hosting package. There are thousands of registrars and web hosting companies to choose from and you don’t have to pay a lot for a good one. Godaddy.com is one of the most popular and offers a good combination of features and value. Sites.google.com is a free hosting option but has limited features. Look for a web host that is ICANN accredited, has a good reputation, good price, large selection of features and you can’t go too far wrong. Changing web hosts is not all that difficult if you don’t like the one you choose.
You can design a basic site yourself using an online template or have one created by a professional. Costs will vary but definitely don’t need to be prohibitively expensive and are well within reach of even the smallest side business.
As an example, Delta Kits has created two websites that focus on windshield repair (www.eugenewindshieldrepair.com) and headlight restoration (www.eugeneheadlightrestoration.com) that give a basic overview of the services we offer.
Finally, there are small businesses that have taken their web presence to the next level by using social media with their website.
One such business, The Treats Truck, broadcasts their upcoming stops, specials, and events via Twitter to help drive customer traffic. Their web page is simple, clean and focuses on the products. This strategy has resulted in people meeting the truck on streets and lining up to buy along with free media coverage for their novel approach to advertising on the web.
The bottom line is that you must put your business in the places your customers are looking and more and more, that place is becoming the internet.
Note: There are a number of things to consider when choosing a domain name and an e-mail address. Many companies choose a domain name that clearly identifies their business name, such as deltakits.com. However, search engines key off of words that are pertinent to the search so some companies choose a name that incorporates the primary keyword for their business, their location, or both, such as eugenewindshieldrepair.com. Be sure to consider who your target audience is when making this decision.