Reputation is a big deal in the automotive industry. Most dealers are looking at it. Every reputation vendor is placing it as the highest priority for dealers. Let’s look at some of the realities of the industry and reputation so you can make the right decisions.

What is real reputation management? How do you see whether or not you need it? How should it be handled? Let’s answer all of these questions…

REAL Reputation Management

In our industry, online reputation management has been simplified to being the monitoring of review sites plus solicitation of more reviews. Most companies promote the concept that through their services, you don’t have to do anything at the dealership level.

If this is reputation management, than an appetizer is a 7-course meal. It’s only part of the whole equation. True reputation management has many facets that do include monitor sites and soliciting more reviews, but there’s more to it. Here are some of the things that we recommend to our clients for holistic reputation management:

  • Get check-ins, particularly on Yelp. Most dealers who have dealt with Yelp realize that getting reviews to stick can be a challenge. You don’t have to have super-active power Yelpers in order to get your reviews to stick. If you can get them to check in at the dealership before leaving the review, the chances of it sticking go up exponentially.
  • Create a company culture around proper customer service. In many cases, bad reviews are the result of unreasonable customers. In other cases, they’re deserved. If you get your company culture in line with a modern customer service model, you can help to eliminate the latter, which is why our Executive Vice President Subi Ghosh discussed it three times at NADA workshops.
  • Mention the importance at the point of sale. The campaigns work great without emphasis by the dealership, but when your sales team is letting their customers know the importance of reviews for your dealership, they’re more likely to respond when the email comes in.

There are plenty of other things you can do, but these are great basics.

Do the Right Searches

Do you have a need for full-blown reputation management? Some will say that the answer is universally “yes” for all dealers. They say that you should always be getting in more reviews. That’s not necessarily the case.

You will get reviews whether you’re pushing for them or not. If you’re already doing well getting them organically, then it’s time to do the right searches that will test to see if you need more or not.

If it ain’t broke…

Do these searches:

  • [Dealership Name]
  • [Dealership Name] [Dealership Metro Area]
  • [Dealership Name] Reviews
  • [Dealership Name] Complaints
  • [Dealership Name] Customers

Look on the first and second page on Google. Is everything over 4 stars? If not, it’s time to get more reviews.

The One-Step Process

The most popular method for getting reviews is to use the two-step process. A company sends out a survey to test the waters. Those who reply positively get another email that tries to send them to review sites. Those who give negative sentiment get another email asking them to contact the dealership directly.

This seems like a good technique on the surface. It’s not. Here’s why:

  • It’s filtering. That’s all there is to it. Review sites do not like filtering. They don’t want some of your customers to be solicited to leave reviews. They want all of them to be solicited.
  • It gets fewer reviews. By the time they get the second email, either their spam filter kicks in or they think they’re being spammed. “I already told them what I think. I’m not doing it again.”
  • It gets fewer complaints. Some would see this as a positive thing, but it’s not. You want people to complain to you directly rather than going online and doing it publicly or telling their friends not to do business with you. Any time someone complains, it’s an opportunity to change their sentiment as well as improve the operations of the dealership.

The one-step process that we employ still gives your customers to leave positive reviews. It also encourages them to contact you directly if they had challenges. We’ve proven that it’s not filtering, it gets more reviews, and it gets more people contacting you directly about their concerns so you can resolve them before they become an issue.

Reputation management isn’t hard, but there’s more to it than most would have you believe. Do the research. Use your head. Determine what you want out of your reputation management partner. Then call us.