Dealership ratings - DealerRater, Yelp and now AutoTrader

Eric Miltsch
Great question Bruce. When it comes to business practices like you described, that's when the review model breaks down is simply becomes a profit center for the review platform & not a value driver for the businesses participating. I would like to think reviews are presented fairly on the largest platforms. Google has had it's problems, but that was purely a result of them not understanding our industry and how reviews are part of our culture. I've personally had positive reviews removed from Yelp as well - again as a result of their platform interpreting natural, positive reviews as fake or spammy. (No experience with DealerRater)
Bruce Barkis
Eric, I appreciate your sharing your thoughts. Yesterday, I looked in Yellow Pages for the number of a computer repair business. On the screen with phone number and address, was the invitation to "rate this business." This is a reminder that these ratings are ubiquitous. I can't imagine a Yellow Pages review would be that persuasive. But, with one of the big rating sites, it's another thing. If these ratings are being stacked in favor of those paying to play, then I guess it's an unavoidable marketing budget item.
Eric Miltsch
Absolutely Bruce - at this stage of the game it must be included in your processes and your marketing efforts; it's already be proven that reviews help influence a buyers decision - for the make/models and the dealership.
Ryan Leslie
Great topic Bruce! If editorial privilege over content is offered in exchange for money that is extortion! But not all of the blame lies with the review sites here guys. Edmunds is currently seeking punitive damages from Humankind for a very different kind of Pay to Play arrangement. Paying a vendor to spam fake reviews is NOT the right way to deal with this issue either, yet it was prevalent enough that legal means was necessary to defend their property and brand. I personally spoke with a dealer last week that insisted that his business relationship with us was predicated on removing his negative reviews. I wasn't happy to see him cancel and I do try hard to never say no, but we haven't been in this space for more than a decade because we act on bribes and threats either. I generally agree with you on most things Eric, but we differ a little here. I think the Google debacle was less about Google not understanding our culture and more about Google rejecting the pseudo "best practices" that were prevalent in our industry at the time to focus on quantity instead of quality. That unfortunately may still be a characteristic of a "30 day culture" in some stores. I'm not pointing fingers, but I think that the rewrite of their TOU in Dec to clearly forbid practices like "review stations" and "impersonation" that were promoted by many consultants was more than a coincidence. Last thing, I have an adequate amount of experience with DealerRater. ;) I am happy to answer any specific questions about why we do what we do. Again great topic Bruce. I hope that my slightly different perspective encourages more conversation.
Eric Miltsch
@Ryan - yea, that's essentially what I was getting at re: the Google issues as well. Our culture is built around frequency form the CSI score - Google actually told us they didn't even know what CSI was. The quality is a must; shoppers can spot fake reviews. Can you shed some more light on your product that helps promote or market your dealer's reviews? I have had others ask me about it & I'm simply not aware of it - I'm sure the dealers here would be interested in knowing more. Thanks man!
Bruce Barkis
I'm not promoting a product. I'm a consultant - retail customer experience improvement - who is doing a small "leading practices" research project for a client in China. Two things converged: a conversation with an acquaintance who is a high integrity guy who does good work and had the bad recent experience with Yelp I described. The other, I was preparing for a few dealership observations and interviews and was reading Yelp and DealerRater reviews. I was struck by the wild discrepancy in the customer ratings between the two sites.

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