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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Kevin Root

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Joe average family is getting ready for a big car trip. To decide where to eat while on the road, the family checks Yelp. To pick a hotel, they search listings on Trip Advisor. And to get their car ready for the journey, they once again go online, this time to seek out the best place for service work.

This experience is becoming typical as more people turn to the Internet when choosing a vehicle service provider. Not only are service ratings and reviews here now, their influence is staggering.

New, just released DriverSide research reveals staggering information:

- Almost nine in ten (89%) car owners would consider using online ratings and reviews when figuring out where to take their car for service.

- Additionally, 92% of this group admits that reviews are likely to influence their ultimate decision.

Vehicle service department reviews can easily be found on sites like Angie's List, Super Pages, Yelp, Edmunds.com, and a host of others, which are often picked up by Google, Bing, and Yahoo! That means that potential customers only have to enter a search like, "Lexus, oil change, Oakland, CA," and the ratings are front and center in the search results.

 

As this real search result reveals, it is essential that a business have positive, numerous reviews. Notice how the first service provider has five reviews and a 2-star average, while the second provider has 14 reviews and a 5-star average. The sole dealership listed has only two reviews.

Who do you think is going to get the first shot at the prospective customer? Conversely, it's easy to see how poor reviews, or a limited number of total reviews, will kill the first provider's chances and most likely those of the dealership in this example too.

It's also easy to see how poor reviews or a limited number of total reviews will kill the first provider's chances and most likely those of the dealership in this example too.

But...

If you work at a dealership, you may be thinking, "That's great for the aftermarket guys, but my service business is driven by warranty work." While that may be true, you also know how important it is to get non-warranty work, and that gets harder all the time. Every other dealer is gunning for your service customers, and the quick-tune guys are getting downright aggressive going after them.

Good News

It might feel like you're swimming upstream, but here's the good news. Our new research also indicates that it's not always about who has the lowest price.

- An overwhelming majority (91%) of car owners would prefer a service provider with a competitive price and mostly positive ratings over a provider that has a low price but mostly negative reviews.

Despite tough economic times, price takes a back seat to positive online reviews when it's time to entrust a vehicle to a service provider. That means that positive service ratings and reviews can not only build traffic, but that they can help build your gross average as well. With great reviews, you don't need to cut prices to attract customers!

Remember, today's service marketing is all about the 3Rs: Relevancy, Reputation and Results. With a great reputation and an abundance of positive reviews, you'll find you don't need to waste money on old school, generic service flyers and postcard mailers. Ratings from third party review sites can be leveraged in prospect and customer marketing communications and reinforced on your own website.

To learn more about the 3Rs of service marketing, as well as how to grow your service customer base, be sure to check out DriverSide's white paper,"Service Marketing: New Solutions for New Challenges," which you can access here.

http://www.driverside.com/new/pages/docs/DSPolkWhitePaper_091207.pdf

Bart Wilson
Great information. How does a service department go about acquiring positive reviews? It seems easy for a salesperson to ask for and get a review on a vehicle sale, but in a lot of cases people in service don't want to be there.
Glenn Pasch
Bart, Very good question. IT is up to the leadership at the dealership to make it a point to create an environment where employees are proud to ask for reviews. I have helped companies with this issue so if you want to email me offline, we can discuss. Thanks glenn@pcgdigitalmarketing.com
One recommendation would be to look at your service follow-up surveys and reach out to those which provided a positive review. Send them a thank you email and mention how important providing fantastic service is to you. Include a request to share their experience on a review site and list the top 3-4 of them used in your area (there is a slight difference on what's top on the east coast compared to the west cost). It only takes a few customers to do then and you'll quickly build up your number of positive reviews. Just be careful not to offer any "reward" for this - keep it at a thank you and request to share their experience. If only 3-4 of all your customers post a positive review each month, you'll have a large selection in no time! Good Luck!
Jason Ivers
I built some software that can help you do it... I'm looking for a couple of beta testers, if anyone is interested. Using the same process (the software that I created automates the process for the most part), DCH Toyota of Torrance (http://maps.google.com/maps/place?rlz=1C1GGLS_enUS355US355&qscrl=1&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=torrance+toyota&fb=1&gl=us&hq=toyota&hnear=Torrance,+CA&cid=8914962394470030556&ei=A4ZlTMCLHI_0tgO8zIGJDQ&sa=X&oi=local_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDQQnQIwAw) has 240 reviews with a 5 star average. If you're interested, you can email me at jason@carservicepro.com.

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