LAS VEGAS — About 20 years ago, most people didn’t even know what an e-mail address was. Now, it’s an essential part of doing business, says Todd Hayes, founder of autoshopanswers.com, who addressed attendees Friday at the NACE/CARS exhibition.

Whether it’s using text messaging to communicate with customers, heightening your Web presence or using digital video to interact with drivers, “We have to embrace technology,” Hayes says. However, “Our industry is not as progressive as we would like it to be.”

Many digital tools are free or low-cost methods for interacting with customers, and if used properly, these channels can make the service experience easier for the technician and the customer.
“Why aren’t we texting customers instead of interrupting their day?” he asks.

By using digital video to actually show customers why their vehicles need repaired, Hayes says he was able to convert $19,000 of potential missed sales. And technology enables shop owners to focus on these erstwhile missed opportunities and transform them into sales.

Technology has rapidly changed the way repair shops do business, and for those who look ahead, it will drastically change again in upcoming years.

AutoNet TV also was on-hand to discuss optimizing search engine results and managing a Web site to its fullest potential.

Hayes warns shop owners to not abandon the traditional methods of advertising and marketing. He suggests a mix of traditional and new media to communicate a well-rounded message.

Some of the tools available to business owners include Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter, among dozens of other outlets.