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Published on February 12, 2007

Having a Web presence a must



AKRON (Feb. 12, 2007) — Do your eyes glaze over when someone mentions the word blog? Do you even know what a blog is?

Today, all tire dealers should be aware of blogs, which stand for Web log—an online journal that is regularly updated.

Why? Because some, and maybe many, of your customers and potential customers are reading and possibly contributing to them. And the subject just may be about your dealership—good or bad—or the tires or service your dealership sells, or about your competitors.

At the least, you should know what is being said, just in case it's something relevant to the operation of your business. Should rebuttal be necessary, you would have the option of posting a comment yourself to set the record straight.

Welcome to the new world of Internet commerce and marketing.

Whether tire dealers like it or not, your dealership should be online and have a Web presence.

If not, dealers stand a good chance of losing business to Internet-savvy consumers who, more and more, are doing online research on a business and often shopping without ever leaving their homes.

Today, many consumers log on to the Internet and search for information and reviews on products before ever walking into a tire store, according to the Internet research and marketing firm Nielsen BuzzMetrics.

The company points out that Internet postings or comments have become a powerful influence on buying decisions.

So let's say a customer has heard good things about your dealership and wants to check it out on the Net, only to find your company doesn't have a Web presence. What happens then?

That customer might search out a dealership that does have a Web site—one that looks good and offers the brand of tires and types of service the person wants. That dealership might even offer a Web coupon and online appointment scheduling to make doing business with the shop easier and more attractive.

You've just lost a potential customer.

Consider the impact online marketer and mail-order firm Tire Rack has had on the tire buying experience. The company's consumer surveys and in-house testing have become a resource for many tire buyers and, yes, even dealers, to help them find the correct tire for their vehicle and driving style and to answer any questions they might have. And once they've made their selection, consumers can easily make their purchase online without ever leaving the Tire Rack site.

Developing a Web presence doesn't have to be time consuming or expensive. Several tire manufacturers, for example, have approved Web-design vendors that dealers can use to develop an attractive and functional Web site at a modest price.

Most importantly, you must have that Web presence and monitor what consumers are saying about you and competitors. It's not the tire business of your father's day any more, is it?


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