All types of small businesses, limousine operators included, are rushing to set up Websites -- and for good reasons. An attractive, user-friendly site can help attract new customers while strengthening relationships with existing clients. According to a recent study from International Data Corporation, 10 percent of small businesses that use PCs currently have Websites. In 2001, it is projected that 20 percent of U.S. small businesses?an additional four million companies?will be making their presence known through the Web. The key question, though, is how can an operator benefit from the explosive growth in e-commerce?
Determine Your Online Business Objectives
Information: A no-frills homepage may provide just the basics, such as a description of your limousines, services, business hours, telephone and fax numbers and address. One caution?too much text can be a turnoff, so try to include lots of photos and attention-getting graphics, as long as they don?t slow the download time too much. Logos from industry associations also add credibility to your company image.
Promotion: Some businesses use the Internet to promote their goods and services as well, turning their sites into online sales brochures. For example, you can give customers good reasons for doing business with you rather than your competitors, or explain how customers will save money by reserving a limousine from your company now, possibly at a discount, rather than waiting.
E-commerce: Finally, some sites are interactive and allow customers to transact business directly online. With today?s sophisticated e-commerce applications, you can post your brochure online, let customers browse through your service offerings, select what they want, fill out a reservation form, and then make payment by credit card.
Business Websites run the gamut from the no-frills variety to very sophisticated transactional sites. Your limousine company?s Website design will depend on the size of your business, your customer base, and your marketing and sales strategy. Here are some of the options, all of which may be incorporated into a single site:
Before designing your Website, determine what you want to accomplish. For example, if your limousine company has just a few vehicles and serves a local market, a no-frills informational or promotional site may make the most sense. If you serve a large metropolitan market or geographic region with several operators, combining...