Your Dealership’s Online Reputation Will Make or Break Your Business
We’re offering online reputation management advice because no amount of money spent on advertising will fix it. We understand there are consumers out there who will never write a good review but love to write about their bad experiences and by not addressing them, these bad testimonials will ruin your reputation online.
Why Your Dealership’s Online Rating Matters
When potential car buyers have done their research to find the vehicle they want to buy, their next step is to locate a dealership who has it for sale at the price point they are willing to pay. Before they pick up the phone to call your sales team or walk onto the lot, they will jump on Google Search, Yelp or even Facebook to read reviews from others who have rated your business.
If you have less than a 4-star rating, chances are you’ll lose the customer before you ever knew they were even considering buying from you. Unfortunately, the average consumer wants to see a high rating and if they don’t, they will read the bad reviews first and skip the good ones.
While a lot of online review websites do not allow you to solicit reviews by sending customers links, you can simply ask them to write one when they are leaving your dealership. Tell the customer you enjoyed working with them and would appreciate if they took a few minutes to go online and write about their experience. Even if you get 1 out of every 10 people to do it, these will be the reviews that will help bring your rating back up into good standing.
Don’t Ignore Bad Reviews About Your Dealership By Not Responding
Car dealerships can be reviewed on several websites so make sure you have someone on your staff who is responsible for addressing them daily and where the reviews can be found. You should reply within 24 hours after a review is posted. If you wait several days or weeks to address it, its too late. The review poster will have moved on to another business and every person who has come to read reviews about your business now sees that you do not respond. It’s a visual signal that you do not care about addressing issues pertaining to your business.
Admit To Mistakes Your Sales or Service Team Made
No one is perfect. If a team member made a mistake, be honest about it. Tell the person who wrote a scathing review that you are aware a mistake was made, apologize and ask what you can do to resolve the problem by providing a direct line of contact so they can easily reach you. People are understanding and sometimes they just want to know they were mistreated and want someone to care.
Never Respond To An Online Review By Blaming The Consumer
You know the saying? The customer IS always right. Well, when it comes to online reviews, they are and now they have an audience to validate their opinion about your business.
Don’t be a jerk. It’s easy to be emotional and lash out especially when there are 2 sides to the story and the reviewer has embellished what happened at your dealership. Be courteous and professional when responding and most importantly state the facts of what occurred. If the customer was angry or unrealistic about their expectations, say so, but state it in a way where you don’t come across as arrogant or a bully.
Keep it short and to the point by responding with something like this:
“We understand your frustration about what happened when you visited our dealership, however the vehicle you wanted to purchase could not be financed which we have no control over. We did try to offer you a vehicle in the price range you were approved for, however we did not have a car on our lot that you were willing to purchase. If you reconsider, please keep us in mind.”
Fix Issues In-House By Training Your Dealer Staff
You will continue to get bad reviews about your GM, sales team and service department if you do nothing to curb their behavior. Whether they were right or wrong, repeated complaints about the same thing or person will only make things worse.
You can fix a lot of in-house issues by providing training about proper procedures, how to deal with customers and other important aspects that can result in your staff not only doing their job better but providing great service to customers.
If you see complaints about a specific employee over and over again, even if its your best sales person who outperforms everyone else, it may be time for you to get rid of them. A sole employee who makes you money but ruins your long term reputation is never good for your business.
Ask For A New Online Review If The Complaint Was Addressed and Resolved
If you can resolve the issue and they are thankful you took the time to turn a bad experience into a good one, ask them to write a brand new review or revisit their original they posted. They can edit the testimonial or they can add a follow-up to it so it includes what you did to make things right in their eyes.
Respond Again To The Original Review If The Issue Was Not Resolved
You reached out and tried to offer assistance with the matter but the consumer didn’t respond or they were no longer interested in dealing with your dealership. It happens, but here is your chance to save face. By responding to the review again or by editing your original response to include a follow-up, it shows you at least tried.
Be polite when following up and simply state:
“We offered to make the matter right however our attempts failed. We are sorry we were unable to resolve this issue and we hope you are willing to give our business another try.”
That’s it. There is nothing more you can do but now every potential car buyer reading the bad reviews will see that you tried.
Use Your Good Reviews If You Have Bad Reviews To Get New Customers
If your dealership does automotive conquest email marketing you can use your positive reviews within your campaigns. It’s a great tactic to include within email marketing blasts sent to in-market auto intenders who are ready to make a purchase.
These are the consumers who will most likely research your dealership before they contact you so you want to highlight the positive testimonials before they see the bad ones. Choose 2-3 reviews to display in your campaigns along with the vehicles you are offering for sale.