This post should really be titled: Reputation Management: Can't I Just Ignore It? It's amazing that another year, and some great social media presentations, has passed with dealers still not understanding that they live and die by their reputation. They know it, they don't understand it. Or else everyone would be tackling their Achilles' heel.
It wasn't too long ago that dealers knew their customers by name, would give up their own car if a client's died on the way home, attended the events they sponsored and generally made sure their name (and brand) was sterling. Then came the 'glut years' of the mid-80s to about two years ago. Dealers practically printed money for 20 years or so and then the dance ended.
Volume, massive profits, huge staffs and even traffic have mostly gone in the same direction as reputation: downhill. With the exception of some forward-thinking and consumer-focused retailers, it seems apparent that our industry is completely fine with negative reviews on top of the other diminishing returns already listed. If there is one thing you do around social media, please let it be reputation management.
You may not be ready to tweet, post, share this, stumble upon anything, digg or have a bunch of fans, but chances are you are concerned about something other than how many other dealers sold cars out of your PMA. About 3/4 of the public will now now shop you based on other consumer write ups!!!!!! That should be enough to make any business owner or manager go online and start participating in something other than fantasy football leagues (not saying that anything is wrong with that!).
Maybe you don't realize how simple (read: it may not be easy but it's painfully simple) it is to participate, get everyone on board at your store and improve your results, or how quickly fewer than a handful of poor reviews can absolutely kill your business. You do have a choice no matter which way you go.
If you haven't been to Google, DealerRater or Yelp lately, it's time you did. Most of the traffic to your online store has been or will be viewing the comments others have made about you. And do it now. I've been talking with a large dealer in Los Angeles for four months who still hasn't decided to invest time, resources or effort in one of the greatest opportunities for more traffic, greater customer confidence, referrals (remember those????) and just plain common sense. I don't know what's stopping them and I don't know what's stopping you.
Just remember that there are three things that never work in the car business: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. It's time you got up to speed on your online reputation and got a little more social. Maybe then we can get back to minting money again...
Best practices: Professional Insight, Power Results