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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Dave Erickson

Dave Erickson Internet Sales Director

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Oh Snaps!! My Rep and Facebook Places

I've been using Facebook places for about 11 hours now. This morning I woke up and several of my friends are also using the app. I can see where they are checked in right now, some even including comments on the walls of the places they're checked into.

I was then thinking back to a conversation I had with a friend yesterday in the ad business.  She said, “rep is the new god." So, as more of my FB friends check into various locations, it seems the importance of rep grows even stronger.

A dealer's treatment of its customers, even those whoe've never before posted a review, can come back to haunt or reward them. There is no expiration date on this rep and on these reviews. I myself have been mistreated by dealers, and if a friend were to “check in” to one of those dealerships I would do my best to suggest they leave and see someone else. I think a lot of people have had similar experiences and I think they would make similar types of suggestions to their friends.

I’d really like to go on about the implications for dealers and how they can predict how their strenth and survivability. How’s their rep currently? How's their turnover? But, I have to get ready or I’ll get written up for being late to the 8:30 meeting.  Perhaps it would be better to collect some feedback.  

What should dealers be thinking about in regards to their rep and Facebook places?

Jared Hamilton
Samauri Dave, I think you are right on. The level of transparency has just dramatically increased. Its not that location based networking is new, but facebook has such a huge userbase and they make it SO easy to comment on someones post. (much easier to share than foursquare. I think this goes back to dealership needing to transform more than their marketing. Its time to review our whole customer experience and polish every sore spot that the customer doesnt like. How can we make the F&I office a better experience? How can we meke the negotiation process more cust friendly? How can we decrease the wait in our service drive? How are we going to do a better job training our people? The business who learn to serve their customers will win in this new wold. The customer certainly is the boss and we better learn to make them happy. Well thought out, article. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and getting me thinking.
Matt Murray
Great question here Dave. The advent of Facebook Places has made it much easier for the customer to share their sentiment with all of their friends, that's for sure. However, should this really change any of the processes at the dealership? I'm not sure it should as the dealer should have been worrying about their local rep from the day they opened their doors. This is a good opportunity to point out that with FB Places comes a new page for the dealer to be aware of and manage. As with DealerRater or Yelp or Google Places, encouraging your customers to share their thoughts online upon completing their transaction (whether on the variable or fixed side) can ensure that the page shows more than just the frustrated and angry customers' thoughts. It's rep management 101 right?
Jared Hamilton
I agree with you matt, in theroy. The problem is without a way to monitor and track, things are difficult to manage. I think we as a dealerbody are still behind on creating truly behind in the culture we create for customers, largely because it was not really tracked before. Dealerrater, yelp etc were great steps in this direction, this just adds a ton of fuel to the fire. What i think is a unique challenge here is it seems to be unclear how much of the checkins will be made public. Basically, depending on the users privacy settings they could lock their checkins down pretty good. What will google (and other bots) be able to index. Without letting the bots in tracking this will become a beast. Could this become a situation where tons of people are talking about you and you cannot join the conversation? I hope not, but I think that story is untold. Have you heard anything from an SEO perspective or about how google can or cannot crawl the checkings?
Matt Murray
I have not heard about how the bots will interact with the check-ins either. However I did discover that each Places page can be claimed by the business owner. This will allow some management rights to the page: Find your dealership's Places page by searching for the Places name in the FB search bar. At the bottom is an option to "claim this page". You will have to provide some documentation of your affiliation with the business in order to claim the page. This is probably more for the GM/DP. I'm not going to pretend that I can predict the future but I will say that if Facebook gets good at training people to use their search bar, Facebook Places will be a serious game changer as it will provide a look at all of the check-ins and comments that folks in and out of your social circle have been inclined to share. Not that other review sites aren't way ahead of Places, but the sheer volume of users on FB should allow it catch up rather quickly. Great point that privacy settings play a role here too by the way. This may give us a better look at just how private the average FB user has chosen to make their pages/comments etc...
Ed Brooks
Facebook Places is just like booze. And I don't just mean fun and possibly addictive. I always heard drinking doesn't change your personality, it magnifies it. Facebook, with 500 million users, has the potential to dramatically increase exposure, both good and bad. Facebook Places will make it easier than ever before for a customer to document their experiences at your dealership. It also dramatically increases the number of folks who might be inclined to do so. There are at least 100 times more regular Facebook users than all the other Location Based Services our there - combined. Providing great service and treating customers fairly and with respect just became even more important. Before Facebook Places they might tell all their friends about what they experienced at your store - now they can tell 500 million friends. Whatever your dealerships "personality", it will be magnified by Facebook Places.

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