There are plenty of techniques and services available to help businesses get more reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and DealerRater. While these services often (but don’t always) work well to get more reviews, the cost to make it happen can often be used better budgeted elsewhere and the crutch that they create for your store simply isn’t necessary. First and foremost, you need to take care of your customers. They should be the lifeblood of your business and if you’re getting a lot of negative reviews, you may not have a reputation management problem but rather a customer service problem.

Let’s assume for this article that you have a strong commitment to customer service. Now, you want to get more reviews so that the world can see how well you’re treating your customers. While some will use reputation management software or services to get the job done, there are other things that can be done that can make the whole exercise much more productive.


Highlight at the Store

It’s amazing how this is so under-utilized. It’s work to train the sales team, the service department, and/or the finance folks to encourage reviews, but there’s a reason that it’s so important. Yes, it’s a good practice to help get more reviews, but perhaps more importantly it gives a face-to-face opportunity to communicate to the customer how important reviews are to your store. Getting an email the next day or ever a little while later is only effective at getting the bulk. It’s not personalized when done though an automated system.

By having the team express your store’s focus on customer service, you’re leaving a good impression with them. By having them craft a personal email to be sent to their customer that highlights details about the experience they had at the dealership, you’ll have an opportunity for them to reiterate the impression and stay on their mind in order to spread their experience proactively when they show off their new car.

Here’s a sample talk track that could be used:

Mrs. Customer, congratulations on your new vehicle. I’m sure it will be everything you expect and more. Before you leave, I want to tell you a little something about us. We focus on making your buying experience pleasant as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Part of that mentality translates to our advertising – we rely very highly on word of mouth and I personally could use your help to spread the word about us. When you get home, would you mind writing a review of your experience on any of the popular review sites that you often use? Yelp, Google, DealerRater – whichever ones you use regularly, I’d love to see what you had to say about your experience. I’ll email you a reminder soon. Thank you so much. This is important to me.

The email should be short and sweet. There’s no need to use a filtering process. In fact, it’s against the rules. Ask everyone to review you. Here’s a sample email:

Hi Mrs. Customer. I hope you enjoyed your drive home! Thank you for being so patient while we waited for finance. I hope the donuts were good! Here’s a few links to some of the places where my customers write reviews. I’d love to see what you thought of your experience here. Please call or email me if you have any questions about your new car.

Make it a priority for the staff. Reward them for getting more reviews (a much better spend of the budget than on reputation management services). It should be noted that five or four star review should be rewarded. Not everyone is willing to give five stars under any circumstance and you don’t want the staff shying away from anyone who isn’t a lay down for a positive review.


Highlight on the Web

Share your reviews on your website, on social media, and even on a page specifically designed to highlight reviews. Advertise it! A Google ad that says, “Boston Acura Dealership Reviews” my get even more clicks than simply highlighting the inventory, for example.

Be proud of your reviews and encourage your customers to check them out. This, of course, can only be done if you…


Respond to EVERY Review

If you’re not replying to their reviews, you’re missing out big time. Every review on every site that has a reply option should get a personalized reply from your team. Good, bad, indifferent – how you respond is actually more important than the review itself in many cases.

When people go to review sites, they’re looking for a couple of things. First, they’re looking for your score, of course, to see how you stack up against others that they may be considering. The other thing that they’ll look for is dirt. They might skip down passed all of the five-star reviews and look at the one- or two-star reviews. People want to know what they can expect in a worse-case scenario. How you respond to negative reviews is so very important that it cannot be stressed enough.

Even with a terrible review, if you reply with a sense of empathy, a willingness to make things right, and a humble regard for their opinions, you’ll give one major message to your potential customers: “These folks want to make it right even if they mess up.”

That message can often be more powerful than a five-star review. People don’t expect any business to be perfect. They don’t expect 100% satisfaction from the customers. They know that someone is not going to like their experience. How you handle those reviews can help your potential customers to either be impressed by your willingness to correct the issue or it could drive them away (especially if the response was either defensive or non-existent).

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You need reviews, not just for the score and kind words but also because feedback can often lead to the need to improve the experience. While I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use reputation management services or software, I am saying that if you do it yourself in the appropriate manner, the end results can be stronger than the results of any service currently on the market.