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Your Customers Are Looking For You…Online!

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A quick Internet search for “tire dealers” brings up more than a million Web sites.

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As a tire dealer, you should be wondering, “How many of those are my competitors?” More than 200 million people in the U.S. use the Internet daily to search for products and services. How many of those are your customers? Wouldn’t it be valuable for you to have a professionally developed Web site that draws customers away from the competition and into your store?

Oftentimes, business people think that Web site development is simple and straightforward, so they embark on the task alone. But, promoting a poorly designed Web site will not only be ineffective; it can also hurt your company and its professional image. Potential customers look at dozens of sites every day and can quickly see through an amateur design.

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A Web site must function as a substitute for a personal presentation by a qualified representative, ultimately presenting your company as compellingly as you would in person. A user’s experience must be similar to, or better than, working directly with a well qualified staff member.

Web sites create a presence for a tire business like no other, and that presence can create a dramatic increase in sales performance. Unlike a traditional brick-and-mortar store, a Web site is available 24/7. The ability to provide consumers with product and service information at their convenience gives a company the additional exposure that is necessary to thrive in today’s competitive business environment.

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There are some hurdles, though, when designing a Web site and choosing a Web developer. As a tire dealer, you have specific needs when creating or redesigning your Web presence.

When choosing a company to design your Web site, you should look for someone that offers more than just Á-la-carte templates. In such a specific and competitive industry, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you designed a Web site that came from a cookie-cutter template library.

In every aspect of your business, you know that you need to stand out from the crowd. So, look for the opportunity to custom design a Web site that professionally represents your company to prospects. You’d be surprised just how inexpensive this can be!

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Tire dealers need user-friendly Web sites that are original, innovative, affordable and well suited to their businesses. They need access to expert Web designers and copywriters, a large library of images that ensures their Web sites stand out from the competition and affordable hosting and maintenance for the life of the sites.

Imagine visiting a competitor’s Web site and seeing the same images you are using. Image that your competitor had the same page navigation and the same “coupon and specials” page, all because you both chose the same Web designer that had limited resources specific to the tire industry.

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Sure, the site may look great, but if it resembles the guy’s down the street in any way, you have nothing that differentiates you, and customers may not know from whom they are buying. You work hard to provide unforgettable service, a clean and customer-friendly shop, and competitive prices, so be sure you are not getting a recycled Web site design that looks just like your competition’s.

A Web site allows ample room to talk about the unique qualities of a business. Best of all, it is not limited to the confines of a small print ad or other advertising medium.

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Look for designers that provide packages that include graphical statistic reporting, an e-mail control panel that allows the Web site owner to add, remove, and control a large number of e-mail addresses and options such as marketing with coupons and specials, credit applications, tire education pages for consumers and more. They should offer you online forms to collect information for customer quotes, schedule appointments or answer consumer questions that could contribute to your bottom line.

In short, a well designed Web site is a dynamic and flexible marketing environment that allows users to interact with you 24/7 with minimal time or effort on your part.

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Following are just a few of the benefits of a well designed Web site:

• Increases communication. Using a Web site to distribute information in a timely manner is a key reason that independent tire dealers, like you, are building Web sites.

• Provides information such as your address, hours of operation and services 24/7.

• Enhances existing advertising and promotional efforts through targeted e-mail marketing.

• Allows you to update and change descriptions of your products and services in real time.

• Lets you collect information from your customers with Web site forms.

• Promotes your products and services with high-quality graphics.

• Creates interactive relationships with current and potential customers.

• Increases sales. A Web site is like a “silent salesman” who makes it easy for you to showcase your goods, services and company image. This can potentially generate new business leads and encourage your current customers to buy more.

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• Sells your products and services 24/7.

• Creates customer lists to e-mail with special offers.

• Instantly expands your market presence.

• Positions your business on search engines to acquire new customers.

• Saves money and increases marketing power. There is no greater image builder for a company than a compelling and informative Web site that can be seen 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

• Reduces the time it takes to receive orders and cuts down on handling errors.

• Reduces your marketing and advertising costs by listing necessary information online.

• Saves on phone costs by posting frequently asked customer questions on your Web site.

• Educates your customers so they can make informed decisions.

• Recruits new employees by accepting applications for employment.

Chances are good that your competitors have Web sites that generate business and interest on a daily basis. If you already have a Web presence, and are reading this article, chances are you’re thinking it’s time for a redesign.

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More than ever, now is the best time to leverage the cheapest form of advertising next to word of mouth. The amount of Internet users grows every day by the thousands. And, as young people continue to learn to use computers at earlier ages, it’s evident that computers will be a large part of business in the future.

Start asking around to see for yourself what Web sites have done for other companies. Look at your competitors’ Web sites. Today, with the technology that is available, there is no limit to what you can accomplish online as an independent tire dealer looking to create a Web presence.

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Most important to the process is finding a company with the skills necessary to create a Web site that is an accurate representation of you – the tire dealer.

It should be unique in that it differentiates itself from the competition and ultimately a tool that increases the profitability and success of your tire dealership. Don’t give your competitors an edge by not investing the minimal cost it takes to have a custom-designed Web site of your own.

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