How do customers find reviews?

Ron Henson
I had an interesting discussion with a dealer friend of mine regarding the method by which customers find dealership reviews. Do you feel like they search specifically for reviews on a specific dealership? (This keeps DealerRater relevant) Or, do you feel like they stumble upon them while researching vehicles? (Google & Yelp) Also, do you think customers trust reviews that are on a dealership website as much as they do 3rd party sites?
Gary May
@Ron, Both! In talking with 100's of consumers both at and away from dealerships each year, some reasons will have them specifically search for reviews. However, the more searches that take place on mobile, there is no getting away from reviews. This is the part of the conversation that isn't taking place. Relevancy is clouded as much as sales process training. If you do a branded or location search, you'll likely not only see reviews (especially on Android or iOS devices, then by browser), you'll see Google Local, Yelp and DealerRater. Too many dealers cloud their judgement with their own opinions rather than engaging consumers and running searches themselves, especially based on the queries that land traffic ON THEIR SITE. DealerRater, for one and since you brought it up, is relevant no matter what way you look at it. Starting with the fact that they started doing "SEO" by using dealer names on individual pages over a decade ago. Reviews are smack dab in front of anyone who uses search and is becoming more so. Start making sure your business has the DATA before you go off based on feelings, trends, personal use or pitches. Most of the time, they're absolutely wrong. -Gary May IM@CS
Ron Henson
Bravo Gary! Great perspective and I agree with everything you said. I often see decisions being made on emotion or opinion rather than data, and that is usually a crap shoot at best.
Big Tom LaPointe
I say both, as well. However, one of the coolest ideas I have seen is that each salesperson photo on the STAFF page was hyperlinked to THEIR review page.
Ryan Leslie
I agree with Gary and Tom, but I'd add a third option too. The consumer becomes aware of them because the smart sales professional that knows there are 5 other dealers competing for that customer ACTIVELY encourages them to read their reviews in the lead response. That sales pro knows they need a point of differentiation if they are going to remain in the consideration set and they know that what others have said about them is far more convincing than parroting the same old tired "we're number one and we won't lose a deal on price" that the other 5 dealers are sending in their template response. Let me try to take the second part of your question Ron. "Do you think customers trust reviews that are on a dealership website as much as they do 3rd party sites?" The short answer is No, they don't. What you say about you, even if you shout from the rooftops that it is genuine and unfiltered, is still what you say about you to the consumer. It's marketing material to them for the simple reason that it is on YOUR site. How many vendors have testimonials on their website, and yet, dealers come to DrivingSales to read vendor reviews. The same thing happens when consumers see dealer-owned reviews and testimonials on their website, they seek out a credible 3rd party.
Sheri Hudspeth
@BigTom, Thanks for That, Great Idea! We just finished our staff page!

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