- Top websites honored for community participation, marketing and social media
- Shops from Maine to California recognized
- Websites offer education, online scheduling and customer testimonials
Buying a new or Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle has advantages beyond the initial purchase. True CPO vehicles come with a warranty backed by the vehicle's manufacturer even though the vehicle is no longer new. To make the most of any warranty service, taking a CPO vehicle to the dealership where you purchased it is probably the best bet.
But what about shoppers who, for financial reasons, need the absolute lowest-priced car they can find? Since each automaker has strict criteria about which cars can and cannot become certified, a high-mileage, ultra-low-price car likely will not qualify.
A used Honda Accord, for example, with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer stands a good chance of being reliable for several more years. Still, those miles mean some items will wear out. In this case, you're probably going to find a local repair shop that is not affiliated with a new-car dealership.
But just because you aren't going to the local automall for service doesn't mean you can't take advantage of services like a repair warranty, loyalty discounts and Internet-based appointment scheduling.
AutoInc. magazine, a publication of the nonprofit Automotive Service Association, recognized the top websites of automotive repair shops nationwide in its 2012 Top Ten Automotive Repair Websites contest.
The monthly trade magazine selected sites that it considers easy to use and attractive and that educate customers and prospects about specific services offered as well as the general importance of good automotive care.
Winners for 2012 span the country geographically from Maine to California. Most of the winning shops are family-owned or locally owned businesses. Although their websites' features vary, most offer customer testimonials, online service scheduling and education about auto repair and maintenance.
AutoInc. magazine's Angie Kilbourne says "active participation in communities, marketing efforts and social media" were also keys to the selection of these 2012 contest winners:
Located about 20 miles north of Houston, Milstead Automotive of Spring, Texas, offers towing and recovery services, foreign and domestic auto repair and collision services. Founded by CEO Dick Milstead, the shop remains a family business with Dick's daughter, Amy Milstead, serving as president.
Precision Auto Repair is a family-owned shop specializing in Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus and hybrid vehicle service. The shop is located 25 miles east of Oakland in Pleasanton, California.
Robert's Auto Repair is another California shop, this one located in Monterey. Robert's provides collision repair and specializes in Mercedes-Benz and BMW service in its 26,000-square-foot facility.
Motor Works has a cool retro-look website to promote its services, which range from classic vehicle repair to discount oil changes for modern import and domestic automobiles. Located about 60 miles west of Chicago in DeKalb, Illinois, Motor Works has been in business since 1984.
Dave's Car Care in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, Arizona, specializes in BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Toyota repairs. Dave's was established in 1980. The website, created by TwoRoads, LLC, includes a section called Dave's Heart, which outlines the shop's outreach to veterans and needy children.
Located between Portland and Augusta in Wiscasset, Maine, Atlantic Motorcar Center works on Audi, BMW, Mini, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Japanese automobiles and offers customers complimentary pickup and delivery. Atlantic's is one of two winning websites created by Ambidextrous Services.
Clark's Car Care boasts of a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty on its winning site. The family-owned shop services Japanese and domestic automobiles and has been in business for 10 years. Clark's is located in Naperville, Illinois, about 25 miles west of Chicago.
Fix Auto Portland East was formerly Roth & Miller Autobody and traces its history back to 1946. Located in Portland, Oregon, the collision shop also provides rentals, fleet body repair and appearance work. Fix Auto's website was created by Mindy Schmidt.
Just outside the Chicago suburb of Evanston is Hubbard Woods Motors in Winnetka, Illinois. Established in 1961, the shop has long serviced Volvo vehicles and now works on Minis, too. Hubbard Woods Motors' website is the second winner set up by Ambidextrous Services.
Locally owned and operated since 1959, Tony's Service Center in Phoenix, Arizona, provides an array of automotive services from mechanical and electrical to collision repair. Tony's Service Center's website is one of several created by Autoshop Solutions.
Not only do these websites effectively market the shop's services and attract new customers, they also provide value to automobile owners with educational and informational content. Websites like these reflect a shop's commitment to a professional and helpful relationship between repair shop and driver while providing convenient features like online scheduling for repairs or maintenance.
What it means to you: A helpful website not only adds convenience for customers, it reflects an automotive repair shop's commitment to professionalism.