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Anne Fleming

Anne Fleming President & Car Buying Advocate

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2014: The Year of Women and Reviews


Earlier this year, JD Power reported that more than one third of buyers are using car dealer review sites to help them determine where to purchase their next vehicle. Buyers no longer want to go from dealership to dealership; they value their time. According to Pew Research, an estimated 80 percent of Americans will have smart phones by the end of 2014; it won’t be long until that “one-third” becomes 50 percent. No wonder there are so many dealer review platforms vying for dealers business.


Here is where it gets imperative to distinguish your dealership. First, women are the fastest growing segment of car buyers, purchasing 27 million cars a year. That is the equivalent of 75,000 cars a day just at new car dealerships. What strategic and day-to-day ways does your dealership market to and communicate with women buyers and prospects?

Next, when it comes to reviews, women are more generous than men when rating their dealership experience.

Asking women who shop, buy and service their car at your store for a review will accomplish these two things simultaneously:

  • It will increase the number of reviews your store has which provides you several benefits
  • It will increase your overall aggregate scores by platform (Dealer Rater, Edmunds, Google, Women-Drivers, Yelp, etc.)


In today’s social world, it’s acceptable to get a negative review here and there.

It is OK for your customers to see a negative review in your social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Rather than fearing or hiding from the negative review, let’s take another point of view:

  • Your social customers know that you have thousands of customers. Every single one of them has unique experiences and, of course, not all can be fantastic. Simply, that is just not how life — and business — go. And, it’s OK.
  • Your social customers expect to see ratings that aren’t always stellar. Starbucks, Nordstrom’s, Apple and Target don’t always have five-star reviews. Ever wait at an Apple store for more than 45 minutes, even though you had an appointment? You bet. Apple apologizes and acknowledges that. And, more important, it’ how Apple publically responds to those negative reviews. Similarly, it’s how your dealership responds to negative reviews that matter.
  • If you (or any major company) don’t have a single negative review, it can show up as odd or inauthentic to the reader. Customers reading reviews want to read the good ones and the not-so-great ones. If you don’t have any negative reviews, customer think you are hiding something. Again, showing how you respond is the important thing. Your response addresses the reviewer’s concern and it improves and elevates brand perception among other social shoppers.


Most importantly, responding to negative reviews requires a professional skill set that includes having exceptional empathy and concise writing ability, so either appoint a dealership ambassador or outsource this position.

  1. Timing, as in most things in life, matters. You receive reviews in real-time; don’t let your response lapse.
  2. Authentically empathize and “get” your customer. Speak to their concern or issue. Don’t dance and never be defensive.
  3. Take it offline so they can further communicate and get their issue resolved by speaking to them live and addressing their concern.


When a dealership gets a negative consumer review it is truly an opportunity to further the conversation and turn the negative into a positive. Understanding the consumer’s experience behind the negative review will help your dealership’s sales practices.

The bottom line is now dealerships are now seeing the profound benefits of reviews to their dealership, and how those benefits far outweigh the risks. In 2014, smart dealers will further focus on reviews, and especially reviews from women buyers.

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