I hate to be the bad guy here, but there are too many misconceptions floating around the automotive industry about reputation management. I have to deflate at least a few of them.

First and foremost, strategy A and strategy B are not the same. It doesn’t matter who you look at to manage your dealership’s reputation. There are always going to be differences in styles, preferences, workflow, and most importantly in effectiveness. This is why it really gets on my nerves when I hear that a dealer was told that this solution or that solution is just like what Dealer Influence is delivering.

It’s not. They never are. Just as there are things that other companies do better than us, there are things that we do better than them. I’m not here to sell our product. I simply want to point out that there are always differences and a dismissive response from any vendor is not doing justice to the fact that dealers must perform their due diligence when finding a reputation management partner.

An example of the differences that we’ve discussed in the past is the one-step versus two-step process. In the one-step process, a past customer is sent an email with all of the options available to them up front – leave a review if you’re happy or contact us directly if you aren’t. This is completely different from the common two-step process that is used by nearly all other vendors. In the two-step process, the companies break the terms of service for most review sites by first “testing the waters” with an initial survey, then directing a different email to those who reply positively or negatively.

This isn’t just dangerous and against the rules. It’s also less effective in getting both positive AND negative feedback.

Some companies try to avoid negative feedback like the plague. We see it differently. We want negative feedback to come in through our system so that the dealerships have an opportunity to make things right. There’s no need to stick your head in the sand the way that many reputation management vendors promote. Face the complaints up front. It’s much better to deal with an issue directly with an unhappy customer than to wait days, weeks, or even months later when they post their negative feedback on a public review site.

Of course we want you to use our service, but the bigger picture is that the industry deserves more from any of the reputation management vendors out there. Don’t assume that they’re all the same. I know from experience that they’re not.