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Industry's first comprehensive map for automotive marketing and sales. This makes it easy to see competing and complementary relationships between products and activities.

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Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on April 28, 2011 at 4:12am
One of the most if not the most successful franchised dealers in my state also has a pretty horrible online reputation. The bad reviews far outweigh the good. Their huge numbers alone will naturally generate more reviews and as we know folks with a bitch are more likely to post. In spite of their "poor online reputation" consumers drive by the shinny reputation dealers on their way to select from a large inventory that is well positioned in the market. Reputation by definition is what you are known for. There can be more than one component/element to reputation and not all are necessarily good or bad. It appears that location, selection and competitive pricing have outweighed their poor online reviews. Is reputation management important?...certainly! Should consideration and resources be used to shape and mold your reputation? ....yes. This example is not being made to diminish reputation management, but to point out that for some (and my example consistently outsells nearly everyone, month in and month out, year after year), just letting the "chips fall where they may" as opposed to hustling up a bank of great, often coerced reviews and testimonials intended to bury what naturally occurs is not so bad. Sometimes I think we do not give the average consumer enough credit or we give ourselves too much.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 27, 2011 at 10:24pm

Larry is VERY correct about the Bill Heard Chevrolet organization... Power Booking used cars to maximize loan advances, reworking credit apps, exceptionally high loan defaults, not paying off the flooring loans on new and used cars when they were being sold (Out of Trust) and a litany of other reckless, fraudulent and simply bad business practices are what caused GMAC to shut the first Bill Heard Chevrolet dealership down in Scottsdale, AZ and subsequently started the domino effect resulting in the closure of all Bill Heard Chevrolet dealerships... It was a sad day for the auto industry and I believe was unnecessary had the company's leadership been more responsive to the leading indicators that would have shown most dealership management teams that they had serious operating deficiencies long before the bank would be forced to intervene.


In the case of Bill Heard Chevrolet, their overall poor reputation was simply a reflection of reality and their poor business practices... In the end, their reputation did not cause their stores to be closed, but what DID cause their stores to be closed was a contributor to their bad reputation.

Comment by Larry Bruce on April 27, 2011 at 9:53pm

Rick the demise of Bill Heard had absolutely NOTHING to do with their reputation, online or off. That is the biggest myth in the car business. Bill Heard had systemic business problems that eventually caught up to them and caused their collapse. 


For the 5th time in this post NO ONE IS SAYING REPUTATION ISN'T IMPORTANT, we are simply saying that it isn't a lead channel its support to a lead channel, to sales and retention.


Rick no one here would argue that Apple has the biggest and most avid evangelists in the world and yet they still spend hundreds of millions in marketing...hundreds of millions Rick. Why? because it does take more than evangelists to sustain a business. Apple thought they could sustain a business on just evangelists in the late 80's early 90's and it damn near bankrupted the company. 


Grow your evangelists work hard on taking care of customers but never forget you have to always be marketing.   


Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 27, 2011 at 7:17pm

This has been a great discussion, although I suspect that the response has been greater in volume and intensity than what Dennis may have expected.  For whatever it is worth, I see value in both Larry's comments and Dennis's responses to those comments... I also want to chime in with Andrea and support what she stated by saying that I can provide several references to the power of positive review web based content to drive traffic into showrooms, websites, incoming phone calls and lead forms.  In 2007 and 2008 I witnessed the dramatic growth of sales volume at a Seattle area Ford dealership with the dealer's CONTROLLER verifying that between 4 to 7 vehicle sales per week were being made to customers who traveled great distances from outside the dealer's marketing area, because of the positive reviews they read online from the dealership's previous customers.  At the time, the effect snow balled to a level where the dealer bought a Hyundai dealership!


Likewise, I agree with Dennis in saying that I observe a non-linear consumer shopping and buying process on a daily basis.  Customers go in and out of the market for buying a car and multiple factors influence when, where and what they buy... Attributing a purchase decision to one medium or point of contact over another is rarely 100% accurate.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on April 27, 2011 at 6:30pm

Comment by Rick McLey on April 27, 2011 at 6:05pm
oh yes nice chart Dennis...Sorry!

Comment by Rick McLey on April 27, 2011 at 6:03pm

Wow this is quite the conversation! Larry that stance of "I can market over a bad reputation, but I can't reputation over a bad marketing strategy" is so old school! I believe a dealer group was the "World's Largest Chevrolet Retailer" had that mentality and they are now bankrupt.

Today's marketing approach that includes "Reputation Management" has shifted from the traditional funnel model to what is now through research revealed that far from systematically narrowing their choices, today’s consumers take a much more iterative and less reductive journey of four stages: consider, evaluate, buy, and enjoy, advocate, bond. Taking a prospect and turning them into an evalngelist is the new Mantra. If a dealer is not focusing on the retention of their owners they will have to keep putting $1000 dollar losers in the paper to get them to come in, hold on the trade, pack the payment with a $100 leg and hope they don't wake up before the deal is funded!

Reputation Management is much more than google maps, dealerrater, yelp...etc. It is about creating an advocate that tells everyone about their purchase or service experience. The one old school saying that still applies today is "Happy Customers will get you more gross"

Your Marketing dollar should be spent in rentention many times more than conquest.

But heck what do I know

Comment by Arnold Tijerina on April 27, 2011 at 4:50pm

Really? I don't get it. I wasn't even arguing with you, Andrea. I agree with you.

I don't understand why I haven't communicated that in any of my past comments.

The ONLY thing I was arguing was that consumers aren't looking at anyone's reputation until they're in market.

That's it.

Comment by Arnold Tijerina on April 27, 2011 at 4:28pm


No. I meant "precipitated".

One definition of the word is as follows:

Precipitate: 2. "To cause to happen, especially suddenly or prematurely."

That being said, I would never, nor could I imagine anyone ever, doing the search that you asked me to do.. it is waayyy too broad. Consumers wouldn't search for a "new car dealer".. heck, I'd argue that they wouldn't even include the word "new". It's more likely that their search would be "ford dealer joliet il"(etc).. however, despite whether they would search your way or the way Im saying, they wouldn't be doing the search at all if they weren't looking to buy (or service) a car. 

A consumer simply won't search for anything about a car dealership until they need to go to one.

I've never said reputation management wasn't important. In fact, I clarified it in a more recent comment I made. I do believe it's very important. It will drive traffic but only traffic that's already in-market. Your reputation could very easily, and likely will, cause someone to choose to visit your dealership versus another dealership once they're ready to buy.

..and Dennis, I understand what you're saying. I wasn't in your presentation either and I'm not trying to credit or discredit your map. I was only clarifying a point that I believed Andrea misunderstood about part of Larry's post. 

Comment by Larry Bruce on April 27, 2011 at 4:24pm


You are certainly entitled to your opinion. A great reputation will cause SOME customers to do that but not most, not even 5%. Your arguments here remind me of the conversations I used to have with dealers back in the mid 90's about the newspaper. 


"I have seen papers in trades, and I know SOME of our customer come in looking for that ad car" 


Sadly there were never any real number to back that up, 2 or 3 customers a month does not a marketing program make. Again you should pay attention to your reputation but do not become so obsessed that you believe that it will prop up a poor marketing strategy.


I can market over a bad reputation, but I can't reputation over a bad marketing strategy. 


It is a smaller piece of the overall marketing puzzle but an important small piece and you can do it with no budget. What's important Andrea is that its all important. Don't make this a zero sum game, for the 3rd time no one said Reputation Management isn't important just that it is a piece of the marketing puzzle and needs to be supported with other marketing channels, its not a channel of its own, what's dangerous it thinking that it is. 


As far as reality goes 200 cars per month, an ebay top rated seller with 100% feedback rating... in the car business it doesn't get more real than that. 

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