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The Auto A/C Help and Discussion Board at the COOL ZONE!
By autoACsystems.com
From December 2005, Cool Profit$ Magazine (#61)
© 2006 All Rights Reserved
Although this forum is relatively new in comparison to other web boards, it's membership is growing quickly and autoACsystems prides itself on being able to make the board both user friendly and secure.
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First of all, like almost all web based bulletin boards today, registration is required. Registration helps prevent 'junk' postings (messages promoting non related web sites that include adult content, pharmaceuticals or gambling). Registration is simple; don’t let it stop you from signing up!

Benefits for service shops: the internet provides an excellent low cost method of sharing information and experiences. With today's automotive systems, any shop would be hard pressed to 'stay on top' of all the different changes and updates.

Private Members Only
The A/C help board at the COOL ZONE is unique as it includes a 'Private Members Only' area, reserved for service shops and technicians in the trade. This membership is in addition to the board registration. A registered technician simply has to contact the board administration with short details about who they are and where they work. What makes this a great resource is that once having access to the “Private Members” area, you are free to discuss topics that are not visible to casual visitors reading the board. Although we do not encourage discussion about pricing, etc., you're free to do so. Plus it's a great area to exchange ideas and establish contacts, and even get help about specific jobs that you're having a problem with. Technicians and shop owners can do all of this knowing that messages can only be seen by other “Private Members.”
(click for larger images)
COOL ZONE 1: The basic layout of the A/C Help and Discussion Forum displays different 'areas' of the site.

Not only for DIYers
If you believe that the discussion boards only promoting DIYers and actually take work away from your shop, it's time to rethink your position. First, many posts are by people who have been to a shop and didn't feel right about what they were told. Other of these posts are a result of a customer visiting a new car dealer and being provided an estimate that they're not comfortable with. (What a great opportunity to demonstrate that the specialty shop is the best place for this work!)

In addition, the posts and messages are read by countless thousands of people, some of which may very well be visiting your shop for service. If you think about it, that customer who is already educated in what's involved in A/C service is going to be your best customer! You don’t have to explain why the accumulator and condenser have to be replaced because of a failed compressor. They've already read about those problems on the board.
COOL ZONE 2: The A/C Help section of the board has been modified by our coders to display details about the vehicle in question. The person posting should provide basic information like the Year, make, model, type of refrigerant and pressure gauge readings (if available). This makes our board easy to use and helps the reader get a better understanding of exactly what type of vehicle the question is about.

Yes, there is a group of people who are die hard Do-It-Yourselfers. Nothing wrong with that, but they aren't ever going to be your customer anyway! Helping a person to get the job done right is not taking your business away. DIYers are bound and determined to do the job, but just need a little help. Therefore, helping him out isn't deflecting business away from the service shop.

Promote yourself!
So about the internet, have you considered actually promoting your service shop on the net? It really is time for the you to take a hard look at getting more involved in the internet. Yes, boards are one method of interacting and demonstrating your knowledge while helping out others. But what about web sites and promotion? Is your shop on the internet? As a service shop owner in 2006, can you really afford to be a Telephone-Book-Only advertiser? If so, fine, but remember that if the telephone book is where all of your business comes from, it's most likely because that's the only place you advertise! That's a no-brainer, but your next question is, why should the internet be of interest?
COOL ZONE 3: The 'Private Members' area is reserved for A/C techs and service shop owners. This area let's you exchange ideas and hold discussions that can not be viewed by casual visitors or other 'regular' board members. It's simply kept private amongst those who are involved in the trade.

Answer: Because that’s where many of YOUR customers are getting their information from! Although YOU may not consider e-mail and internet web sites to be YOUR best (or first) source of information, do you really realize just how much your customer probably relies on the internet and e-mail? So if your shop isn't there, they are NOT seeing it! It's just that simple (and that's another no-brainer!).

Internet’s adding 5+ million users a year
The internet is growing by over 5 million users every year. That's 5 million! And these users are not just kids downloading music. They are every day people (like your service shop customers) looking for information and help to make buying decisions. If you are not available to them in the format that THEY ARE USING, then how can you expect them to see you?
COOL ZONE 4: Basic registration is an easy step that permits you to respond to posts and polls on the board. Simply click the 'Register' link on the board and select a 'screen name'. You will automatically be sent an e-mail to confirm your registration and you're in! When you are registering, don't forget to add your web site or other information to your 'signature' line. That signature is added to the end of all of your posts and that alone will help internet visitors find your web site!

Not convinced? Try a simple test. Starting right now, when you take contact details from your customers, ask them if they have an e-mail address. The bets are that 9 out of 10 will say 'yes,' and they will give it to you! There! The proof is in the pudding! They are on the internet. If you're not, then who's information, advertising and promotion are they reading? Well, it certainly isn't yours, that's for sure! (another no-brainer, right?)

In short, to maintain your service shop's success, you really should be considering your options for on-line exposure and promotion. Cool Profit$ Magazine offers basic web page packages that will put you there. Alternatively, autoACsystems has free service shop listings plus other features that will allow you to stake your position on the net! In addition to that, there are 'Soon to be released' web site packages that will give you the power of controlling all the content of your site easily. Basically, if you can answer e-mail, you will be able to create and update your web site! Additional details are available by contacting us at support@autoacsystems.net.

Please visit us at www.autoacsystems.com Don't forget to sign up for our e-mail newsletter!

You can visit and register for the web board at: www.autoacsystems.net/phpBB2/index.php This is also linked from the main site!

AutoACsystems.com is a web site dedicated to providing information that's all about service, repair and maintenance of auto A/C systems. The site encompasses all the resources needed for everyone, from the apprentice to the professional, to help learn more about how auto A/C systems work and how to diagnose them. Our A/C service and troubleshooting manuals are available in a downloadable eBook format which provides immediate digital delivery. Other resources available at the site include LIVE Support, a constantly updated FAQ section, live video help and more!

Visit the main site at www.autoacsystems.com A/C Help and Discussion Board: (Links from the main site) or at: www.autoacsystems.net/phpbb2/index.php

Coming soon: * Buy and Sell auto A/C and related items at Auction! Easily list, buy and sell items. Includes want ads and stores! www.cooltradezone.com/buyandsell/index.php; * The AC Connection! Get easy access to the best auto A/C resources on the internet; * Syndicated articles that can be linked direct from your web site! Provide your visitors with all of the right information they need! For details or help, please contact support@autoacsystems.net. $$$

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