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A common fear from dealers and business owners a like is people putting up BAD reviews on places like Google, Yelp, and DealerRater about their store.
Dealers try to avoid the problem by not mentioning anything about leaving reviews online, it's like hiding! That's a dangerous way to deal with the issue. So how should you handle online reviews and protecting your online reptuation?
The only dealer afraid of bad reviews is the dealer with no reviews. Think about that statement. Why do dealers with 100s of reviews sleep soundly at night not worrying about bad reviews? Because they have so many good ones, the bad ones have zero impact on their reputation.
Dealers with no reviews live in a place of fear. With no reviews online, a few bad ones and your reputation online is tarnished for everyone to see 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A bad reputation can't just be repaired over night either.
Building a reputation online is about a consistency over time, not simply throwing money at the problem.
Dealers need to make a strategy for soliciting reviews and then implement that strategy consistently each and every day. Over time you'll build up a reputation and no longer worry about the odd 'bad' review thats posted because you've built up a solid foundation that can't be rocked by a bad review.
So how do you get people to leave reviews? You have to ask for it, plain and simple. People who are upset and pissed off will happily share their bad experience, in any industry. The harder part is getting happy people to take the time to leave a review, most of them won't that without YOU asking.
It's similar to a 'call-to-action' in any marketing. Marketing messages without a call to action online, get very little response. So you need a call to action to solicit reviews throughout your sales/service cycle, you asking is the call to action.
We like to send people to a review page on the dealers website where they receive simple instructions about why, how and where to leave a review. You see, you have to make it EASY for someone to leave a review. Walk them through the steps, provide them links and tell them exactly what happens.
The harder you make it, or the more you rely on them knowing, the less response you're going to get. So dumb down your instructions and make it so the only way it could be easier is if you did it for them. (which btw don't ever do that, you'll have all those reviews removed from sites like DealerRater, Yelp, Google, etc. it's against their terms of service).
So all this fuss about reviews, don't think they're important? People read reviews about vehicles and not about you? Think twice.
We ran several surveys on our clients sites asking a very simple question. "Do you lookup reviews of the dealership you're buying a vehicle from?". There was no incentive for these people to answer and there was no default answer.
The response to that question hovered around the 60% mark for YES. More than half your customers are using reviews of the dealership in their research. That means they go to Google and search for reviews about your dealership by name. The very same way we'd do a search about a restaurant or any other company we may do business with.
Not only does it affect your potential customers decisions, but by building up a very strong reputation online with great scores, you've instantly created a USP for your dealership.
A far better USP than '50 years in business' or ''family owned & operated'. You're now the highest customer rated dealership in the city, THATs a UNIQUE selling proposition, your years in business and ownership structure are two things, not unique and irrelevant to your buyer.
Don't let your competitors get ahead with a reputation. They'll have a strong USP that works against you and you'll only be playing catch up. Unfortunately catching up is a time thing more than money, so don't think waiting it out will work.
Remember this, you can do it now, or you can do it later, but you're going to do it some time.
So get a strategy in place and start building a solid online reputation, it'll pay itself back over and over again once you build it.