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As a reputation management specialist at Cobalt, I talk to dealers about their reviews all day, and I’m always amazed by the amount of misinformation in the industry. Working at Cobalt, I’m lucky to be privy to insights from the largest in-market car-shopper data warehouse in the industry. Many of these insights have caused me, and consequently my dealers, to think twice about some long-held beliefs about automotive reputation management. Here are a few of the latest findings-I guarantee they will surprise you.

Myth # 1 – You have to have all five star reviews. If you don’t, no one will buy a car from you.

The bad news is, the automotive industry has it tough right out of the gate. A new Cobalt reputation management eBook surveying over 2,500 dealerships found that, for all other industries, the average reputation ratio is 80 percent positive reviews and 20 percent negative reviews. In the auto industry, however, an unmanaged dealership reputation has an average of 80 percent negative reviews and only 20 percent positive. The good news? Turning your reputation around may be easier than you think. Cobalt Business Intelligence found that when it comes to star ratings, breaking the 3.5 threshold gets you into the consideration set. In other words, don’t worry if your reviews aren’t 100% five stars. The fact is that people want to read real experiences, and will likely expect to see a few “bad eggs” mixed in. A mix of reviews builds credibility and trust in the mind of the potential customer.

Myth # 2 – If you ignore a bad review, everyone will.

It’s not just reviews that count; it’s how you respond. If car-shoppers see complaints, they are looking to see how you handled your previous customers. The fact is, reputation management is a human process, and ignoring a negative review will make it look like you don’t care.

And yes, in my book, posting an automated response counts as ignoring a negative review.  While it may even seem like a simple solution to copy and paste an auto response, it’s not effective. People see canned responses as untrustworthy and not transparent. This is why I work with my clients to relay personalized and dedicated review response messages.

Myth # 3 – I can just do a “review drive” and get all the reviews I need for the year.

There is no quick fix for online review generation. Slow and steady wins the race. A well-respected Google expert and technology consultant Mike Blumenthal emphasizes what our reputation management solution coins as the “healthy trickle” approach. In his recent blog post he writes that, “The reality is that you don’t need 10 reviews a week at Google. In fact you don’t need 10 reviews a month or a quarter there to succeed. Most businesses need to accrue one review every month or two so that at the end of 3 years you will have 30. You need to ultimately get more than 10 so you get Zagat rated and you need to stop fretting about how many you have there and how many you have lost. You need to keep putting one foot in front of another, keep gaining endorsements across the internet.  In the end if you run a good business and have loyal customers you will get your share of reviews at Google and elsewhere.”

While providing a great car-buying experience is the foundation of a solid reputation management strategy, it’s not enough. It is essential to have an in–store review process that simply becomes second nature to the staff.  I advise my clients to remind their customers that reviews are important to the business at every touch point where it makes sense – during delivery, at the cash wrap, and once the customer has driven home in their new car.

For more reputation management myths and insights, download our new Cobalt e-Book “The Street Smart Guide to Automotive Reputation Management.”

Natasha Seidl is a Reputation Management Specialist with Cobalt.

Original article posted here.

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