Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community for Car Dealers, Marketing, Advertising and Sales Leaders

Loading... Be Patient!

Online Dealer Reviews - Not Quite Ready For Prime Time

Written by Amit Aggarwal of J. D. Power and Associates

I keep reading that dealer ratings/reviews are becoming important, and that dealers should encourage their customers to go online and fill them out. While I agree that consumer-generated dealer ratings may someday become an integral part of the automotive sales and service process for consumers, we’re not there yet.

People can go online to find consumer ratings/reviews on almost anything: for instance, has 79 different models of toasters with at least one consumer review each. A critical aspect to building any ratings is the network effect: ratings become more valuable and useful as more consumers visit and contribute. Conversely, Web sites that are unable to attract sufficient traffic and consumer ratings stall out.

For this article, I visited three Web sites with automotive dealer reviews: DealerRater, Edmunds, and Yahoo. In my survey of these sites, I searched for the top 20 dealerships from the Ward’s Dealer 500 – these high volume dealerships should be good candidates to attract consumer ratings.

DealerRater, as the name indicates, is a standalone site focused on dealer ratings and reviews. In its six years of existence, it has managed to accumulate many reviews: of the top 20 sites, eleven dealers have five or more. On the downside, many of these postings are old, indicating that the site may be losing momentum. For instance, Crevier BMW (Santa Ana, California) has 19 reviews total, but only three since January 2007. There are also other problems that hinder the site’s viability.

No consistency in dealership names. For Ray Catena, a New Jersey-area dealership group, DealerRater gave me ten different options, including Ray Catena (2 reviews), ray catena (0 reviews), Ray Catena Motor Cars (7 reviews), Ray Catena Jaguar Porsche (2 reviews) and Ray Catena MErcedes Benz of Union (0 reviews). Note: the last is not a typo.
More ads than information (as shown below).
Sales and service ratings/reviews are mixed together.

On Edmunds, where vehicle research is the primary attraction, dealer ratings play a secondary role. Still, Edmunds does better than DealerRater in some respects, including separate sales and service ratings, a map showing the dealer location, and less advertising clutter. On the downside, I found fewer reviews: the greatest number was eight total reviews for South Bay BMW (Torrance, CA). Many dealers had one review or none. It remains to be seen whether Edmunds’s volume of dealer ratings will achieve the robustness needed to be a useful source of information.

For Yahoo!, ratings are an additional piece of information that gives users a full understanding of any product or service, including dealers. As shown below, the Yahoo! Local entry for Landmark Chevrolet (Houston, TX) provides contact information, hours of operation, map, photographs, and ratings/reviews. Thus, anyone looking for any information about the dealer will probably see the ratings/reviews. If there’s only one or two, so be it. As it turns out, eight of the top 20 dealers had at least five reviews, while five dealers had no reviews at all. Yahoo!’s reviews functionality has been around for over three years, so it’s clear that dealer ratings haven’t taken off here, either.

In general, ratings have evolved as useful, though still supplementary offerings that support a site’s main goals. For instance, Amazon’s consumer-generated ratings and reviews are not its focal point – instead, they support the goal of selling products. Epinions is an exception and thrives because it offers numerous reviews on a broad array of products.

DealerRater, as it is positioned currently, will be continually challenged to build enough traffic to become a popular destination. Third-party sites also have their own challenges: they attract far more traffic, giving them more chances to solicit visitors to submit a review, but these visitors may be less inclined to contribute. Both Edmunds and Yahoo seem to suffer from this problem. As it stands, there’s no single reliable source of consumer-generated dealer ratings/reviews.

It’s still too early to write off online dealer ratings/reviews, but the existing players have not yet made a compelling case for its usefulness to-date, either. There’s still the opportunity for a new entrant to get involved and really own this area, but they will need to bring something new to the game or run the risk of achieving only mediocrity.

Recently, a new solution provider has launched a reputation management system for automotive dealers. The new company is CF Media and their online reputation management solution is located at Dealers who are interested in getting a handle on reputation management before it gets a handle on them should investigate and see if their proactive, dealer friendly, consumer service approach may be part of the solution in this rapidly evolving space.

Views: 29

Tags: -, Dealer, For, Not, Online, Prime, Quite, Ready, Reviews, Time


Oops... You need to stop "Lurking" on ADM and become a more genuine Automotive Professional by completing your membership registration. As a registered ADM Member, you can post comments, publish your own articles (be a star!) and start Forum discussions. Stop being an online "Peeping Tom" and JOIN ADM RIGHT NOW!

Join Automotive Digital Marketing

Automotive Professional Network and Resource Exchange for Car Dealers, Managers, OEM and Marketing Practitioners seeking Best Practices.

ADM Sponsor

Please Consider Automotive Marketing Professional Community Sponsors

ADM Badge


Based On Your Interests...

ADM Consulting, LLC

Onsite/Offsite Combination ADM Consulting, LLC Professional Services
Select the maximum monthly investment you plan to make
Sign up for

Automotive Marketing Tools

Get ADM Toolbar

Click here to take the ADM Member Survey

Getting too many emails from ADM? Click mailbox below to control which types of alerts and updates you are sent......


Top Automotive Marketing Forum Discussions

1. Electric Vehicle is the Future

Posted by Dwayne Jhonson on August 29, 2019

2. Email marketing

Posted by Andrew Qrueed on August 26, 2019

4. 5 Ideas for car dealers FB page

Posted by Kevin Lewis on August 6, 2019

Share the Best Content w/AutoMarketing Community

© 2019   Created by Ralph Paglia.   Powered by

ADM Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service