Isn't the Internet great?
In today's automotive repair businesses, we are always looking for a better way to access the online information we need to make our jobs go smoother and to save time.
Most shops already subscribe to online repair manuals, but what if what you're looking for isn't in a manual?
Ultimately, we jump directly to search engines like Google and others in hopes that the answer shows up quickly so we can get on with the job at hand.
Maybe, you were not lucky enough to find what you were looking for.
- you didn't use the right search words
- the info could be in one of the next 20-50 pages of search results
- the information wasn't meant to be found by public search engines
- the information just doesn't exist
Okay, you were lucky. You found what you were looking for and that's great. You can now get on with your day.
But, wait a minute.
What do you do with that web page?
Do you save it to your 'Favorites' or 'Bookmarks' list in case you need it again or do you close it off because you think you can find it again later?
Have you tried looking for it again? If so, you probably found that your repeated search generated different results which now gets you a little 'miffed'. Sorry, that's just the way search engines function when they are dealing with millions of web pages fighting to get on the first page results.
Okay, maybe you’ve saved it in your ‘Bookmarks’.
Well, I don’t know about you, but my personal ‘Bookmarks’ section is a mess so I can just imagine what yours looks like on the shop computer.
Here are a couple of tips about public search engines.
- They are public. That means every page posted on the open internet is open for public viewing.
- Most of it has been optimized. You may have heard of the term ‘Search Engine Optimization’ (SEO). That means that the publisher has paid well to have their pages optimized to show up on the first pages of a search result.
All this may be just fine ………if you are ‘surfing the net’, but it’s really not that great for a busy automotive business environment where time is definitely money.
It's time for a change.
Here's a solution; catalogue the automotive industry.
No, I’m not trying to be funny because it's being done and updated every day.
When you separate our industry from the millions of other web sites on the open internet, the numbers become manageable. This means all websites, related to our industry, can now be logically catalogued in a variety of classifications for simple and quick retrieval. You will know exactly where it is the next time you need it without taking a chance on the open internet.
That, by itself, will save you shop time.
We know the Internet is the only medium that can transmit the resources we need. But for many of our suppliers, the open and public internet is a choice being avoided by those who have the information that is slated specifically for us in the commercial side of this business and not for general consumer. Personally, I get really guarded when I see trade secrets and technical training, I worked hard for, being available to just anybody with an internet connection. It’s just wrong.
Then I realized they didn’t have much choice.
If they need to use the internet to transmit the data, it has to be found and that means SEO (Search Engine Optimization). all they can do is hope we’re the ones who are looking for it. The other option is to NOT apply SEO and find some other way to get the information to us.
They now have another option.
They no longer need to optimize their pages for search engines because all we need is the web address to the data.
We will catalogue it and have it freely available to all registered members of this industry, especially in this region of British Columbia.
That will really open the doors to more resources.
This is so exciting, I just had to commission a commercial to help explain it. Check it out. I'm really proud of it.
But I didn’t stop there.
In building this library, I found so many information resources, I just had to create additional divisions within the library that had a direct focus on the different sections of our businesses. Then I realized that the within these divisions, we can share stories, tips, articles and have discussions on trends and issues we could all get involved in because our biggest source of resources and ideas are not from someone, sitting behind a desk telling us how to do things, it’s from everyone who is on the front line of this industry trying to make a meaningful living within this industry and deserve the well earned respect that’s in short supply.
So, we now have a pretty good startup library of tips, articles, funny stories, a forum section and even a video library section to help your day become a little more efficient and fun.
But, unlike most websites and libraries that are only 'view only', ASBN is designed to be interactive to include your favorite web links and videos, your stories, tips, issues and yes, the occasional rant, so we can ‘pass it forward’ to the rest of our hard working industry.
Then I tied it all together with a home page you’d definitely want to check out every day for your News, Weather, Sports and ever changing site highlights.
We Can Still Do More
Separating ourselves from the ‘public’ realm of the internet, into a semi-private, commercial industry network that includes everyone, from students to suppliers, opens up a whole new world of opportunities.
Yes, ASBN's libraries will be available to everyone related to this industry everywhere, but our primary focus will be right here at home, in British Columbia, because these are our people, in our businesses serving our individual communities in every corner of BC. Our market is different than the rest of Canada and many of our issues are unique only to us.
Also, to further focus the needs related to individual communities, BC has been divided into 10 major marketing regions in order to reach all regions equally, especially those that feel that they are on the outside of the mainstream and have been ignored.
With that in mind, here are a couple of tools that will fit our own needs;
- Industry Classifieds – Buying or selling used tools and/or equipment, employment ads, businesses for sale; all these and more are things that only us, in our local industry would be interested in. So, why not have our own, full featured classifieds?
- The Blogs -- Yes, we have our Forums for quick comments and questions and many of us use social networks for discussions. Why not put it all together? Our blogging system is designed for your topics that you feel are important and need further discussion. When published, all ASBN members get notified and can automatically be shared in you favorite social media sites. Spreading the 'word' just got a whole lot easier.
- The Supplier Pages – We need parts and services from outside of our major jobbers to keep our businesses going, but where do we find them when we need them and there are literally hundreds of local businesses who depend on us for their livelihood with little to no marketing avenues to connect with us. The fix is our own ‘Yellow Pages’ style directory where every supplier can post their ad for us, when we need them.
Talking about our suppliers; since we’ve lost most of the factory field reps, we’ve also lost all the valuable resources they brought to the table like product support, product training, tips, P.O.P materials, new tooling and yes, industry news and even some gossip..as a direct result, we’ve lost ‘brand loyalty’ and we’ve been left to fend for ourselves. (see the Blog; Parts Mfgs. Losing Touch with Customers)
We’re going to fix that.
Here’s another area that really needs fixing……Training!
There’s a whole new world of tech heading our way and we are definitely not ready for it.
There’s also a lot of tech coming into our shops right now that we know little to nothing about and how about 'old tech' that's still on the roads very few know anything about?
Also, we can’t forget about administrative and management training just to keep up with our ever changing business demands.
I’m excited to say, “Yes, we are going to fix that too”............TOGETHER with your help.
There Is Strength in Numbers
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m really excited.
Having our own network, The Automotive Service Business Network, means that all facets of our industry can get together under one roof and one centralized system, to share ideas, resources and to do business.
Yes, I mean all. That even includes every individual, group or business with their own websites devoted to bringing us open access to resources.
ASBN is not here to compete with anyone, We're here to include everyone who has something to contribute to an industry that needs it because, first and foremost, this is a Resource Library.
And, just like a public library, it's continued success depends on high membership numbers to not only give us access to funding, but to give us strong reasons to continue developing this network with programs and resources we can all use.
Here are just a few more ideas that a strong membership can deliver on;
- Your not alone; You may have questions and issues and as a group, someone has found a solution to share.
- As an industry, together we can work closer with our associations to bring about changes in major issues that may require Government intervention like education and licensing.
- With strong numbers we can attract our suppliers and product manufacturers to work closer with us to improve training, product quality, supply and pricing
- Additional services can be added if there are the numbers to make use of them. For example; our own social media platform, video communications, a training directory and reservation system
This is your industry, your livelihood and your career. Shouldn't you have a say in how it should evolve?
It's Time for Some action
This is the place where I ask you to sign up and register.
It's taken me years to build this platform on my spare time and as a tech and previous business owner, (presently I'm a Tech here in New Westminster so I can have my evenings free for this project) I know too well to be defensive about registering online for anything.
So, how can I convince you to take action and register to become a part of the automotive Service business Network project?
I really can't.
But, what I am hoping for is that you may want to check out the libraries and the tools for something you'll find useful. A small portion is open for public viewing but the clear majority is for 'Our Eyes Only' and that requires you to be logged in to access.
Better still, I am hoping that you agree with me that gathering and organizing resources for all of us to share and contribute to will be a necessary tool for our continued growth and, as an industry with a little structure and a support system, we can solve the issues that are holding us back.
It's totally up to you.
What I can promise is;
- Registration is free with no time limitations.
- Every application will be checked for validity and any false applications will be voided. This is our first line of defense against spam.
- No personal information will be asked. You may want to add information to your personal profile but aSBN doesn't need it.
- Multiple registrations within the same business are allowed. In fact, it is highly recommended. Not only do individuals have their own reasons to use ASBN but it will offer us better statistics on our industry. So, don't keep ASBN to yourself.
- No Spam
- You will not receive unsolicited mail or messages from ASBN only periodic news letters and important notices.
- Any mail you do receive from others will be from your choice. So, keep an eye on who you sign up with.
I really hope you appreciate my efforts to bring this industry together for an optimistic future by signing up. (Hint; it's really the only way I'll know if you like it or not.)
Okay, you can register now.