Winning Local Search – Control Your Google My Business

Last week, we taught you how to dominate the Google My Business local pack or “three pack”. But that advice only works for people who have control of their Google My Business (GMB) listing. If you don’t have access to the listing, don’t worry. We are going to walk you through it with easy to follow visuals.

Your first step is to see if your listing has already been claimed.

Here is how you do that: Search Google for “Paintless dent repair near ____” and add your city. You will get a list of three businesses in your area.  If you do not see your business there, then click “more places” at the bottom of the three.

After you click the “more places” link, you will get an expanded list of businesses in your area, and yours should be listed, even if you have not yet claimed your listing.

If you begin clicking on any of these listings you will start to see expanded results for each listing, that will look something like this:

If you look closely just under the phone number, you will see an option or two to interact with Google on this listing. If you only see the words “Suggest an edit” then the listing has already been claimed by somebody who once worked for the business and had the ability to verify the listing.

Last week, we discussed how to dominate the Local stack or “three-stack” on a Google local result.  The article assumed that you had already taken the steps necessary to claim your own Google My Business Listing.

If you see the words “Suggest and edit – Own this business?” then that means your listing has not yet been claimed.

Whether or not your listing is claimed, this article will help you claim or reclaim your listing.

Let’s start with claiming the listing.

Click on “own this business?”  and you will be taken to a screen that shows you the business and the address and asks you to confirm that you have the authority to claim the business.

Click Continue and you will be taken to this screen:

At this point, you have a couple of options. You can click the “Call” button and Google will automatically call the phone listed to confirm.

Note: this ONLY works if that number goes straight through to you and you are standing by the phone. If you have a call assist service where the caller has to make selections from a menu to reach you, this option will not work.

The second option is to receive a text but this only works if you have a cell phone listed and not a landline.

The next best option is to request an email or a postcard mailer. The postcard will take up to five business days and will have a code on it. Once you press the button to receive a postcard, you cannot proceed until you have that code. The same thing goes for the email.

Once you have verified your listing, you are free to make edits to it. You can add logos, change the cover photo, add photos, hours, website addresses and more.

 

What to do if you are a business owner with a claimed listing but you do not have access to it?

This second set of instructions happens all the time, especially if you have been in business a while or had several employees over the years. As Google became more sophisticated with its local maps and local search capabilities, its products have evolved over time. There used to be options like Google Places, Google Places for Business, and others. Now everything is under the banner of Google My Business. It is possible that you or a former employee claimed this listing under a different Google product and you don’t know your logins. What makes matters even more frustrating is that Google has no number that you can call to fix it. Instead, you have to jump through a few hoops to reclaim your listing. But don’t worry, we are going to walk you through it.

Step One- go to https://business.google.com/create

You will see a screen like this one:

Since you have an existing listing, as you start typing your name it will begin to pull up listings. Click on the listing you want to change and click next.

Next, you will be asked to verify the address.

For a  mobile PDR shop, you’ll want to make sure you check “I deliver goods and services to my customers”.

Next, you will be asked to verify the business type.

Verify the info and click next. You will be asked to verify the contact information.

Finally, you will be taken to this screen:

This screen will tell you the name of the person who claimed the page and will give you enough of an idea to see if you recognize the email address of the person. If you do, all you need to do now is contact that person and ask them to add you as an admin.

If you do not recognize this person, or if it was a former employee that you no longer have contact info for, you can click to request access.

What happens next is Google sends an email to that person and informs them that you are requesting access to this account. If that person grants you access, you will be notified.

If they ignore it after 5 days, Google will email you again and allow you to have a verification postcard sent to the business address listed. It is very important that somebody at that address that you can contact will be on the lookout for that card. If this is your current address then all you need to do is wait. If you have moved your location, you need to contact your old location and let them now to be on the lookout for the postcard from Google.

Once you receive your code, log back in, enter your code and you will have full access to your Google My Business listing.


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ReconPro mobile app 2.14.8 for iOS devices

Print service requests via mobile printing, see the print preview of teams inspections, work orders,  invoices, and service requests, and much more:

New Features

  • Print service requests
  • Summary screen for team inspections, work orders, and invoices

Improvements

  • Restrictions for saving work orders with deleted services
  • Improved search for duplicates by VIN
  • Showing “$” icon for paid invoices
  • Showing vehicle Body Type and Trim Type in Condition Report

See the details of each new feature and improvement here.

Fixed Issues

  • Warning message for labor time services was shown even after all required vehicle information was entered.
  • The Search bar on work order Services screen was not shown after swiping to the next screen and back.
  • The Add button on the Select Services screen was still shown after tapping, so tapping the Add button twice caused adding duplicate services.
  • The search function didn’t work correctly in the Local mode on the Invoices screen.
  • There was a different sorting of work orders when editing an invoice in the Local and the Online modes.
  • In rare cases no print preview was shown on the Summary screen of service requests.
  • Invoice approval didn’t work correctly for some invoices.
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ReconPro Back Office Update (Feb. 21, 2018)

See real-time updates of service price and quantity while editing invoices, show PO# of each work order included to invoice on printouts, and more:

Improvements

  • Instant update of changed service price and quantity in Invoice Editor
  • Show work order PO# on invoice printout
  • Improved filter by clients in commission rules
  • All notes related to an invoice, including service notes and work order notes, are now exported to NetSuite.

See the details of each improvement here.

Fixed Issues

  • The amount of services with the Vehicle price policy was not calculated correctly in HTML printing.
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Twenty Tips to Help Rank Your PDR Business in Local Search

In the paintless dent repair world there are two kinds of businesses, fully mobile shops who move around from town to town chasing hail storms, and then there are local shops who service a local base of customers. If you are in this second group, this post, the first in a two-part series, is for you.

It seems almost silly these days to explain to business owners why they need a website for their business. We see so many companies who do all their digital marketing through one social media channel such as Facebook or Instagram. We have even seen really big body shops that only have a profile on a social media page but no website of their own.

The problem with a social-only digital marketing strategy is that you are at the mercy of the ever-changing rules and whims of that platform. Take for example Facebook’s big change announced in January of this year. Facebook’s goal is to keep its users on the platform and has to continually strike a balance between what keeps people on the website and what pays Facebook’s bills. Facebook’s big announcement in January is a reaction to people who have long said they felt the site had shifted too far away from friends and family-related content, especially after a rise of outside posts from brands, publishers, and media companies.

“This big wave of public content has really made us reflect: What are we really here to do?” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “If what we’re here to do is help people build relationships, then we need to adjust.”

With even a basic website, you are the captain of the ship, and you are in control. You are not under the control (or at the mercy) of the owners of the social media platform with which you market.

Having briefly demonstrated why you need a website for your business, let’s turn now to the instructive portion of this post: how to dominate local search for your Recon business.

No matter what your business is, if you serve customers within a set territory, you are a local business and your website needs to perform that way. You have probably heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and you have likely been inundated with offshore SEO companies who claim they can get you ranked #1 for just $50 per month.

With local search, most small businesses are only concerned with one thing, and that is getting to the three slots in the so-called “three stack” or “Three Pack” of search engine results.

The good news for local marketers is that Google has gotten really good at managing local search for businesses. Even just a year ago, it may have been difficult to find yourself on the first page of Google for your service. But with the development and enhancements to Google My business and its prominence in the search results, small businesses can rank well without having to spend their way to the top.

 

Main Takeaway

The one thing you must understand is that a Local search result is the result of the following formula:

Prominence + Proximity + Relevance= Search Result.

Prominence– is how well you show up on the internet. This includes things like your website, but it also takes into account backlinks, reviews, mentions on other websites, and directory submissions, (although directory submissions are becoming less of a factor).

Proximity- This is how close you are to the person doing the search and unfortunately is not something you can work on or fix aside from opening up office locations all around town.

Relevance- This is how relevant your service is to what the search has asked for. As an example, you will have a harder time ranking for Auto Body Repair near me, than you would for dent repair near me, even though we both know they could often be one in the same. Your reviews also help with relevance as long as the people leaving reviews are using your keywords in their reviews. We’ll cover that more below in the tips.

You could almost write a short book on how to rank high for local search, or even to place in the local pack, but to keep things manageable in this post, we are going to bullet list some key points.

Key Points

  1. Your rankings are relative to those of your competitors. You might be able to do something in one market and rank number one, that wouldn’t get you anywhere in another market.
  2. The ranking factor of proximity to the searcher has increased to be the number one factor.
  3. If you have a strong website and you’re doing a good job with normal SEO, the odds are higher that you’ll show up in the local pack.
  4. You have to be in the proximity radius to have a chance to rank, but you have to have the other factors (prominence and relevance) to really be able to beat the competition.
  5. You can use AdWords and Local Pack ads to broaden your scope and attract business through local search from other cities.
  6. If you’re a service area business located in a suburb, and you want to get rankings in the big city, you should create a page on your site and optimize it for that particular city.
  7. If you’re on the edge of a city and you get more links within the city that you’re not in, you have a better chance at moving into the local pack in that city.
  8. You probably aren’t going to rank too far outside of your radius if you’re a service area business. This is something that Google needs to change, especially for businesses who travel to their customers.
  9. Stop worrying about proximity. There’s nothing you can do about it unless you want to set up an office on every block.
  10.  A lot of the relevance factor is first determined by what category and sub-category you put yourself in in Google My Business, and what the person searched for.
  11. To boost relevance, take the page you link to on Google My Business and optimize that with keywords, and also related topics.
  12. Reviews are very important to relevance and prominence. If your reviews feature keywords relevant to you and they’re from people within your city, they will help a lot.
  13. Use ‘semantic relevance’ in your pages to increase relevance. This is the practice of including keywords parallel to phrases that are important for you (e.g. ‘Manhattan’ and ‘New York City’).
  14. Links can add a lot of location relevance. By joining the local Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, sponsoring local events and local non-profits, and getting mentioned in the local media, you can boost your relevance for that particular location.
  15. Aside from the SEO benefits, local link building can drive a lot of traffic directly to your site.
  16. If you have 1-5 locations, point your GMB listing to your homepage. If you have more than five locations, it’s time to start setting up location pages.
  17. Google wants to show the best businesses rather than just any old businesses, and prominence is one way that they try to measure that.
  18. If your citations are screwed up or you don’t have any, fixing them or adding them can help you be more eligible to rank in the pack.
  19. Pay attention to new, native Google My Business features, like Q&As, Posts, and ‘store-within-a-store’, as these will become more important in rankings over the next few years.
  20. Google is now getting data sources that we can’t really have any influence over, such as table reservations from OpenTable, and customer numbers from credit card companies. You can’t manipulate these things, so you just have to focus on being an awesome business, and making that awesomeness visible to your potential customers.

If all this sounds like a lot of work, it is; but it is manageable. Having a solid website is the heart of this, but the Google My Business page is equally important. Stay tuned to part two of this post where we walk you through step by step how to claim, manage or modify your Google My Business listing.

 


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Budgeting for a Successful Independent Dealership in 2018

2018 has just begun and the economy looks to be off to a great start. A strong jobs outlook and low unemployment means more people are driving again, and these people are replacing their cars. You may have noticed this for a while now at your dealership.

But even with this increased demand, you still have to compete with the larger dealerships. One way to get ahead is to borrow tips and ideas straight out of their playbook. As a software company who sells to auto dealerships of all sizes, we have unique access to everything from a dealer’s operations to their accounting practices. We get to see behind the scenes of dealerships all over the country, and we know what makes the best dealerships successful.

As an independent dealership, you may not have the staff or even the time to always step back and look at the big picture of your operation, but it is an important exercise nonetheless. As you prepare your goals for 2018, you can’t make smart decisions until you take a long hard look at your company financials, and yes that means setting your budget.

Performing these budgeting tasks does not have to be a chore, in fact we are making it easy for you with this tutorial. Consider this budget to be a guideline, a scorecard or a report card for how you are doing financially as a business every month. It will help you make business decisions such as when to buy more inventory or how much to spend on advertising.

Building out your budget doesn’t have to be hard or even time consuming. Many of you are already using some form of accounting program and we have created an excel spreadsheet that you can use or modify simply by clicking the download here:

Get the Spreadsheet Template

 

Why you need a Budget for 2018:

  1. Determine your milestones so that you recognize when you pass them. You get into a routine. You have your auction days, you are involved in the remarketing needs of your purchases, you manage your sales people, you keep an eye on the finance department. But how do you know when you are ready for a second lot, or a third, if you don’t have a plan with set milestones? A good budget will help you find those milestones.
  2. You will need to borrow money, your bank will want a plan. If you do grow to that second location you may need to increase your floor plan. Your bank is going to want to see the plan, and how you expect to make your payments. A good budget will help you execute your business plan.

Business plans require financial projections, tax schedules, depreciation schedules, staffing plans and so on. All of this will be spread out over multiple pages and you will need to keep going back and forth between pages.  I have found that the best way to start a business plan is to create a single page cheat sheet that has all the numbers in one spot. As you begin to fill in numbers in a business plan, it is helpful to have a single sheet that has all the numbers in one spot.

  1. A budget can help you make hard decisions quicker and easier. Scalable businesses are built on the backs of efficient processes. Time saving tips tricks and yes even software like our very own ReconMonitor will save you money. But how do you know when you can afford to invest in new equipment or software without being able to look at your own numbers? A budget will help with that. Your budget will help you determine whether you can afford every single business expense before making the purchase.

 

How to make a budget for your Independent Auto Dealership

The easiest thing is to create a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. You can create your own or you can download our template below. On your spreadsheet include the next twelve months going from left to right in the top columns. Leave room in the first column to list out each expense.

Next, in the first column, start labeling all of your expenses. It helps to have a couple of recent bank statements handy; you will be surprised at how many little expenses that you forget.

 

Start with your ongoing business expenses.

The way I like to do mine is start with the bills that you know that has to be paid each month, stuff like mortgage on your buildings or rent, utilities, etc. Put every business expense you have in there. This will give you a good idea of what you need at a minimum to pay break even. Now add a row for each of those columns to tally up.

Note: We have included a column with industry average percentages pulled from the NAIDA used car industry report.

Next it’s time to start entering the employee expenses.

Begin entering values and lines for all of your employees, salaries and average commissions. Again review those bank statements and try to come up with a number for each type of expense that you have. Add a line to tally up each business expense by month.

Inventory and reconditioning expenses are next.

Like most dealerships, you probably have a good bead on what sells in your market, and what your average reconditioning costs per vehicle are. This data can be pulled whether you do all your remarketing in house or you use outside vendors. If you use outside vendors ask for their help in determining an average per vehicle figure and use that as a multiple for how many vehicles you plan to buy in a given month.

Customers

Here is where the business owner’s crystal ball comes into play.  Obviously, you can’t predict what cars will sell at exact times, but as an existing and successful dealership, you probably have your own data and formulas.

The purpose of this part of exercise is to start determining what revenue is coming in and when. If you offer repairs and service in addition to used cars, you probably have a good idea of what the revenue from the shop is each month as well.

Note: Our spreadsheet gives you the option to use a monthly average/projection, or you can enter specific cars if you want to get really accurate and track your performance.

 

Spreadsheet Formulas.

Next you will need to create a few formulas. First you want to create a line that totals your office overhead along with any salaries.

Subtract this number from the total sales in per month, and you have a fairly accurate idea of what revenue is left for taxes.

Next take this number and apply the following formula: =C54*(1-29%)  In is case C54 is the cell with our remaining net cash after salaries office expenses and inventory expenses.  This formula takes your net cash and subtracts 29%, which is a pretty good approximation for a small business tax burden and includes state taxes. We recommend that you speak with your tax professional to figure out what the percentage it for your specific situation. Whatever tax rate they suggest simply replace the 29 in that formula with the new number.

In the line below this, add the formula =SUM(C54)-(C55). This gives you the monthly tax payment that you will owe (even though you will pay quarterly). In this instance C54 is the net income and C55 is the tax payment.

Keep in mind this spreadsheet is designed to give you a quick and pretty accurate picture of your cash flow month by month, but it does not factor in things such as depreciations, etc.

We hope you found this to be helpful and we look forward to helping you achieve a prosperous 2018.


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ReconPro Back Office Update (Feb. 6, 2018)

Turn on automatic saving of CSV files with inspection information to your company FTP, specify invoice amount range to set a threshold for commission profiles, and more:

New Features

  • Auto-saving of inspection CSV files to FTP
  • Set invoice amount range in commission profiles

Improvements

  • Improvements in Invoice Editor
  • Reset default question answer

See the details of each new feature and improvement here.

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ReconPro mobile app 2.14.7 for iOS devices

Switch between your invoices and team invoices easily on a single screen, and search your invoices the same way as you search team invoices.

New Feature

  • Single view for invoices

Improvement

  • Cancel changes made to monitored work order services

Fixed Issue

  • Inspections could be approved without actually drawing a signature on the Signature screen.

See the details of the new feature and improvement here.

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