This blog will tell you how to add (or claim) your auto repair shop’s Google listing. I’m going to start this off with the “why” part of why you should do it. If you just need the instructions for how to add your shop, skip to the bottom where the instructions are (if you just need to claim an existing listing, skip to number 4 on the list).
For the rest of you trying to decide if this matters or not, first things first: getting and keeping your business on Google is free. That also means you don’t have to worry about me trying to sell you something.
Secondly, I also realize there is a lot of confusing language about what being “on Google” means. There are lots of terms thrown at you all the time like: Google Places, Google Plus, Google Maps, Google My Business, Google Plus Local Page for Business, Google AdWords, etc. For now, forget about all of that. Let’s just call it getting on Google Maps and stick to the basic basics.
If you don’t know if your shop has a Google Maps entry, then just go to Google and … uh … Google yourself. Search for shop name and city (Joe’s Automotive Yourtown). I’ve included a screen shot of what you are looking for.
If your shop shows up, as does the shop above, but you have not claimed it yet, then all you have to do is click on the question “Own this business.”
If your shop does not show up—meaning, you don’t see a listing for it on the right side of your browser window—then you have a problem. Google Maps is a big part of how people using cell phones can navigate right to your front door. Being on there is vital.
If you’re not sure what you are looking for, notice the box on the right side of the screen capture. You’ll see it has shop name, info, reviews, the map listing, etc. Now look at the one below. See how there is only white space on the right side? That business does not have a proper Google listing.
There are a number of reasons why not being on Google’s mapping system—much less just having the nice window with all the reviews and shop info—is going to make it harder for the shop to get new customers. I won’t go into all of the whats, whys and hows right now (look for an upcoming blog on SEO if you are interested), but for now, if you aren’t sure if your business has a proper entry, go look. If you are in the same boat as that second shop, I’ll show you how to add it, claim it, and be done with it. For free.
Now there may be a handful of you old timers out there thinking, “I ain’t on there, and I don’t care.”
If I were to ask you why, I’d bet what comes next would sound something like this: “the shop is always busy, been here for decades, working on third and fourth generations of customer’s cars, and is booked out two or three weeks in advance.”
And that’s great. But I challenge you to consider this, at least for a second: Throughout history, lots of businesses were “busy all the time” right up until they weren’t anymore. Then they died out like the dinosaurs.
As an auto repair shop owner, you are in a technology industry. If you don’t look like you have a handle on technology—especially a basic technological essential like Google Maps—then to many people (including the grandchildren of your old customers), you don’t look like you are keeping up. Not to customers, and not to prospective employees. (I’ll write more in another blog about how you might be doing or not doing things online that are making it harder to find good techs.)
Anyway, that’s all the case I am going to make for why you ought to take the few minutes to get your Google Maps entry set up.
Okay so finally, at long last, I’ll just get to the how part.
How to Add Your Auto Repair Business to Google
1.You need a Google My Business account
If you already have a Google account (gmail account), go to the Google My Business sign up page.
If you don’t, go set yourself up a gmail account on this page: Gmail Set Up Link. Write down your login and password information on something that you keep and will still have (and know how to find) five years from now when you have to make a change or something.
2. Get to the Map Screen and add your location
On the Google My Business sing up page, log in with your gmail account. Save this page as a “favorite” or “bookmark” on your browser for easy reference later. If you have multiple gmail accounts, you will see them stacked up. Pick the one you want to use for your shop. Make a note that you chose that one when you record your password. You may also be asked to verify your security settings if you didn’t set all that up before (cell phone recovery and that stuff). Just do it. That will take you to the map screen.
3. Fill out the form.
Every so often, I hear that when you get to the business type line on the form, the business type “auto repair shop” is not an option. If you find that only “auto body” or “gas station” appear even though you are typing “auto repair,” just pick one of those. You can go back into it after it is set up and change it. The missing options appear afterward (this problem seems to happen less now than previously, but just giving a heads up).
4. Check the Box Verifying You Are Authorized
Yep, click the tiny box, then click continue.
(If your shop was already on Google, then you only had to click the “own this business” link to get this to come up.)
5. Verify the Business
Google with either call (robo-call, not a person), email, or send a snail-mail postcard with a verification code. You may be prompted to pick one of those, or you might only have one option. The phone call and email varieties will happen straight away.
If it’s the postcard type, make sure you tell anyone who gets the mail at your shop to look for it. That way it won’t get thrown away as junk mail. You will then have the option to “Verify Later” and can continue the process without waiting on the mail.
If you do “verify later” just don’t change any of the stuff you put into the main screen (including that “gas station” or “auto body” thing I mentioned above. Leave it all alone until you get your code entered). Once your postcard comes (it might be one of those “fake check” type mailers now), go back to your Google My Business page and enter it to lock everything in. Then you can make changes to the main information. (If you do make changes, it’s not the end of the world, but your code might not work, so you’ll have to ask for a new one.)
6. Pat Yourself on the Back and Say, “Huzzah! I did it!”
Yep, that’s it. From here on out, you can go in and change your shop hours, your website, your street address, photos, etc. whenever needed.
For more information on why you might want to do that, keep an eye out for the SEO article I mentioned above, and if you still don’t think you need to be online, well, I’ll be writing a piece on that too.