automotive

Is Your Dealership’s Online Reputation Ruining Your Business?

Is Your Dealership's Online Reputation Ruining Your Business

When was the last time you Googled your dealership? Has it been a while? How did your reviews look? Think about the last time a potential customer Googled your dealership. Probably today. And their decision on whether to contact you or not is based on your reviews.

Check out these statistics from a 2014 survey:

  • Nearly 90% of consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business and 39% do so on a regular basis
  • 85% of consumers will read up to 10 reviews before deciding whether a business is trustworthy
  • 72% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations

The majority of consumers are deciding whether or not they trust you to do business with before they’ve even talked to anyone at your dealership. And if your online reputation is poor, you may never get the chance to do business with them.

Protecting Your Reputation

If your company’s online reputation could use improvement, don’t just sit back and hope it improves. Here are a few steps you can take today to protect your online reputation:

Claim your online listings. If you haven’t done so already, Google your dealership to view and claim online listings for your business. There are also services that will assist you for a fee. Why is this important? So you have control over your online representation. You wouldn’t want a rogue employee or competitor managing your review site. By claiming your online listings, you can ensure each has accurate business information and branding. I recommend adding all of these to a spreadsheet for easy management.

Respond to all reviews. This shows consumers that your business is paying attention to what customers are saying and is taking responsibility for righting any wrongs, when possible. Not sure how to respond? Here’s some ideas. Also, if unhappy customers know that you read and respond to reviews, they may decide to be a bit more honest and open to working with you on a resolution rather than just bashing your business.

Have false/defamatory/wrong reviews removed. Consumers understand that not all customers are going to be happy with a business, so negative reviews serve the purpose of legitimizing your reviews so it’s not just all positive. Experiences aren’t always perfect and consumers can usually pick out when a reviewer is exaggerating or being unreasonable. However, if the review is completely false, violates the review sites policies or is for a completely different business, have that review removed. Each review site is a little different, but should have a help section detailing how to get these types of reviews removed.

Encourage positive reviews. People tend to tell twice the number of people about bad experiences versus good experiences, so if you know a customer had a great experience, ask them to please leave a review. This can also be a good time to promote a referral program. If the customer does leave a positive review, be sure to thank them for it.

Field negative reviews. It’s great to get positive reviews, but negative reviews provide the opportunity for improvement. When a customer shares a negative experience with your business, that allows the company to make changes to improve the experiences of other customers. Have a process in place to handle negative feedback, either by sending a feedback form out after every visit to encourage customers to send that feedback directly to your staff (and not on a review site) and be sure to follow-through with trying to improve the customer’s opinion of your business.

Ask customers to update their review once resolved. If a customer leaves a negative review about your business online and you resolve the situation to their satisfaction, it’s completely acceptable to ask them to update their review with this information. Updating reviews can be more helpful than deleting because it shows that you took the time to ensure this customer was happy.

Set up a Google Alert for your business. A simple way to stay on top of your company’s online reputation is to set up a Google Alert to notify you of online mentions. Be sure to include any variations of your business name and set it up to receive daily or instant notifications.

Track results. Don’t just take my word for it, create a baseline of your review site scores and track your score monthly to see progress. Need to improve a score on a particular site? Send happy customers there to leave reviews!

These steps may seem like a lot, but once you’ve claimed your listings, spending just a few minutes each week to read and respond to reviews is going to pay off in a major way as your online reputation improves and more online shoppers become your customers.

Want some help managing your dealership’s online reputation? Click here to learn more.

How to Share Reviews on Social Media So People Actually Read Them

As a business with a web presence, one of the best things you can do is get positive reviews. This is because 88% of consumers have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business. Once you get positive reviews, your social strategy should include occasionally sharing these reviews to let your fans and followers know how happy your customers are.

But there’s an effective and ineffective way to do this, and unfortunately, I’ve been seeing much more of the latter than the former. It can be very beneficial to toot your own horn, but you’ve got to put a little effort into it so it sounds less like bragging and more like a personal recommendation.

For example, if you follow any dealerships on Facebook, chances are you’ll occasionally see the following post: “We just received a 5 out of 5 customer rating on DealerRater.” If you Google that exact phrase, there’s over 11,000 results. So if you’re doing this, you’re not alone; but you’re not helping yourself either.

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When I see that post, I immediately ignore it because I guarantee you whatever comes up next in my Facebook feed is more interesting than that. And who cares? Good for them, right? I’m expected to click a link to read a review when I could be looking at something much more exciting. So there’s the key – share your positive reviews, but make sure your reviews are interesting and attention-getting.

Here’s how:

  • Include a quote from the review highlighting the best part: “They spent a great deal of time, not only finding the vehicle that best suited my needs, but thoroughly explaining my financial and warranty options!” Whether or not the viewer clicks on the link to read more, you’ve shown them the best part of the review, which is the point of sharing reviews.
  • Thank the reviewer in your post: “Thanks for the great review, Joe!” This not only makes you look good because of the review, it also makes you appear courteous and appreciative. You’re also crediting someone else for the review which is essential because 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. By sharing a review and crediting the reviewer, you just turned your marketing message into a trusted, personal recommendation.
  • Customize the post: “We hope you enjoy your new Escape!” This makes your post look less cookie-cutter and more sincere, like you’ve built a relationship with this customer.
  • Include a photo: photos are the most engaging content on Facebook with an 87% interaction rate! But don’t just include the default review site logo, make it something interesting and engaging:
    • Customer photo – if you were fortunate enough to get a photo of the customer with their new vehicle and have permission to post it, share that photo with the review! This serves as “proof” that the review is legit and is highly engaging, especially if other fans know the customer.
      • Note: in my personal reviews of multiple dealer Facebook posts in which dealers shared customer photos, 60-80% of the most engaging posts over a 30-day period were customer photos.
    • Vehicle photo – another option is to share an engaging, stock photo of the vehicle the customer purchased.
    • Thank you – what better way to show your appreciation than to publicly thank the customer? I recommend using a free and easy graphic design site such as Canva to create your own graphics and customize them with your logo. This way you’re creating your own graphics and not using someone’s copyrighted images.

Takeaways:

  • Sharing reviews is an excellent way to turn your marketing message into a trusted, personal recommendation
  • Quote the highlights of a review in your post to “force” fans to see what’s being said about your business, even if they don’t click through to read the entire review
  • Customize and credit reviews whenever possible
  • Always include relevant photos when sharing reviews, either a customer photo or a “thank you” image