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Returning from NADA 2011, it was more than apparent that we are in an age of “enlighten me”. With Google stating that their entire focus in 2011 will be focusing on Social, Mobile, and Local, it means they understand that we consumers are me-centric and only willing to seek out opinion from our credible, close, personal, connected contingency of contacts. A focus on social, mobile, and local could easily be combined to say this is the year of reputation management because reviews will run rampant.
If the NADA vendors and speakers taught us anything this last week it is that the public's perception of your store is going to be one of the driving sources of eyeballs and traffic to your store. It seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry were selling some form of social media and reputation management. You'd approach a booth and say, "Tell me about your product." and they'd reply "We build car washes in dealerships and assist with social media/rep management services." Any amalgam of offerings was seen, but the constant is that EVERYONE thinks they are more reliable than you are to handle your own reputation.
Your reputation, loudly (and proudly?) displayed across the search engines and business listing sites will be your brand. How do you want to be known? What do you want to be known for? Is your business map not only atop the search engines, but is it adorned with raving fans of your dealership?
It is abundantly clear that if you want to start building trust with the public, it starts from within. Above and beyond how you conduct yourselves in an everyday setting (That is a given), it takes proactively reaching out to your loyal customers and asking for those reviews.
These online review sites (and the positive customer testimonial videos you can acquire - video or otherwise) will single-handedly determine the trust level that your local (and national) customers hold in your brand.
It is apparent that you need to stop relying on Google Alerts to see if your name is being dragged through the mud and THEN responding. You must seek out positive reviews from your loyal customers. How? There are several answers. From QR Codes on table tents and business cards to 3G connected iPads on-site to kiosks in service to long-term email/phone calling all the way to the simplest form… just asking for it when they’re in-store, you must put processes in place to start developing some goodwill reviews from your loyal, happy, local customers.
Reputation is important to everyone. Even me. I've written countless articles and blogs over the last several years dedicated to helping the in-the-trenches Internet professionals to create a positive, profitable department. There is no fame or fortune in it. I do it for the love of the craft. Our craft. If any of those articles or conference sessions or videos I've made have helped you, I couldn't ask for anything better than having you rate me as an Internet Trainer in the DrivingSales vendor rating section - here on the site. http://www.drivingsales.com/ratings/companies/dealerknows-consulting
That's the easiest way I can ask "How Ya Like Me Now?"