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How To Manage Your Dealerships Online Reputation & Reviews


Original VIDEO Here


A common fear from dealers and business owners a like is people putting up BAD reviews on places like Google, Yelp, and DealerRater about their store.

Dealers try to avoid the problem by not mentioning anything about leaving reviews online, it's like hiding! That's a dangerous way to deal with the issue. So how should you handle online reviews and protecting your online reptuation? 

The only dealer afraid of bad reviews is the dealer with no reviews. Think about that statement. Why do dealers with 100s of reviews sleep soundly at night not worrying about bad reviews? Because they have so many good ones, the bad ones have zero impact on their reputation.

Dealers with no reviews live in a place of fear. With no reviews online, a few bad ones and your reputation online is tarnished for everyone to see 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A bad reputation can't just be repaired over night either.

Building a reputation online is about a consistency over time, not simply throwing money at the problem.

Dealers need to make a strategy for soliciting reviews and then implement that strategy consistently each and every day. Over time you'll build up a reputation and no longer worry about the odd 'bad' review thats posted because you've built up a solid foundation that can't be rocked by a bad review.

So how do you get people to leave reviews? You have to ask for it, plain and simple. People who are upset and pissed off will happily share their bad experience, in any industry. The harder part is getting happy people to take the time to leave a review, most of them won't that without YOU asking.

It's similar to a 'call-to-action' in any marketing. Marketing messages without a call to action online, get very little response. So you need a call to action to solicit reviews throughout your sales/service cycle, you asking is the call to action.

We like to send people to a review page on the dealers website where they receive simple instructions about why, how and where to leave a review. You see, you have to make it EASY for someone to leave a review. Walk them through the steps, provide them links and tell them exactly what happens.

The harder you make it, or the more you rely on them knowing, the less response you're going to get. So dumb down your instructions and make it so the only way it could be easier is if you did it for them. (which btw don't ever do that, you'll have all those reviews removed from sites like DealerRater, Yelp, Google, etc. it's against their terms of service).

So all this fuss about reviews, don't think they're important? People read reviews about vehicles and not about you? Think twice.

We ran several surveys on our clients sites asking a very simple question. "Do you lookup reviews of the dealership you're buying a vehicle from?". There was no incentive for these people to answer and there was no default answer.

The response to that question hovered around the 60% mark for YES. More than half your customers are using reviews of the dealership in their research. That means they go to Google and search for reviews about your dealership by name. The very same way we'd do a search about a restaurant or any other company we may do business with.

Not only does it affect your potential customers decisions, but by building up a very strong reputation online with great scores, you've instantly created a USP for your dealership.

A far better USP than '50 years in business' or ''family owned & operated'. You're now the highest customer rated dealership in the city, THATs a UNIQUE selling proposition, your years in business and ownership structure are two things, not unique and irrelevant to your buyer.

Don't let your competitors get ahead with a reputation. They'll have a strong USP that works against you and you'll only be playing catch up. Unfortunately catching up is a time thing more than money, so don't think waiting it out will work.

Remember this, you can do it now, or you can do it later, but you're going to do it some time.

So get a strategy in place and start building a solid online reputation, it'll pay itself back over and over again once you build it.

Views: 471

Tags: customer, dealerrater, dealership, management, reputation, reviews


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Comment by Kevin McKillop on June 5, 2013 at 11:12am

Reputation and Social Media, always two hot topics!  

Comment by Alexander Lau on June 5, 2013 at 7:47am

BTW, I think DealerRater's tools are good ones (the back end system is very well designed and usable), regardless of the implementation of 3rd party software or API. However, any review site that charges a retailer for access (buffer) in order to alleviate poor reviews borders on extortion. I don't care which review site it is, retailers are being held hostage through a model that requires participation or reputation death.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on June 5, 2013 at 2:15am

In regards to DealerRater and the comments exchanged below between Alexander and Ryan... It is no secret that I have worked extensively with the owners and managers at DealerRater between 2007 and 2010. For the last two years I have extensively debated several policy issues with Ryan and other DR executives where I was, and am firmly of the opposing opinion. 

Despite the differences of opinion between myself and DealerRater, the debate has always been at a very professional level and DR has not reduced their commitment to quality service and delivery of superior support to the dealers I work with. If you think about it, when everybody agrees and we are all singing Kumbaya together, it is a lot easier to be happy with the supplier... What DealerRater has consistently shown me, across the swath of over 600 dealerships that my team at ADP signed up as part of a bundle that comprised our Business Process Outsourcing Social Media service offering, is that they are highly knowledgeable automotive reputation management professionals with strong business ethics driving an exceptionally high level of quality in both product and people taking care of their Certified Dealer clients. 

Outstanding Integrity within the ranks of automotive suppliers and service providers should be recognized and rewarded as part of the natural order within our free enterprise system that rids our vertical of underperforming or deceptive suppliers, but allows those displaying high levels of integrity and quality to grow and prosper. I still recommend using DealerRater Certification as a potent part of a comprehensive reputation management strategy.

Is this a plug for Chip, Heather, Ryan and the DR team? Yup... Unsolicited, based on my own direct experiences with DR for over 6 years, and the cars sold by the dealers we signed up..

And, I hereby certify that neither myself nor any of my businesses receive payments or revenue of any kind from DealerRater... (Yet). 

Comment by Alexander Lau on June 4, 2013 at 1:51pm

It's just a discussion man, I am not being hostile, really I'm not trying to be crass or the like.

The bottom line, it's foreign to your native platform and that seems deceptive for many reasons.

Using NING (ADP / Cobalt) pushed social / forum platform as an example doesn't seem adequate. You're comparing an entire CMS platform to API utilization through 'V' (or at least I would think DR would be smart enough to utilize the API instead of straight white labeling). The fact that DealerRater pulls in 3rd party software for its Reputation Intelligence and Brand Analytics, etc. is smart, I'm just stating that it isn't native to your true platform technology, it's being cloaked. I suppose you could look at V's software as being a plugin for your system, but to me it's a very large part of your DealerRater 360 (especially the insights area) offering. I suppose it all depends on how one defines 'Data Partnership'. 

Additionally, having sold a popular website in the past, a potential buyer for DR, isn't going to like the fact it's a non-proprietary offering, regardless of the partnership. In fact, there's software dedicated to sniffing that out, these days, but that's your leadership's call.

Agreed, apologies to Kevin, threads like this always get derailed. I'm guilty of doing it. In some instances for the better, but usually not.

Comment by Ryan Leslie on June 4, 2013 at 1:35pm


Is Ralph being "deceptive" by using Ning instead of building his own platform for ADM? Is GM "deceptive" when they purchase components from non-GM suppliers? Are you being "deceptive" because you license software for some of your solutions as you mentioned in this post? The example of a "review site" created for Kelly Nissan from the reputation management tab on your website includes a DealerRater plugin, is that a "deceptive" business practice? Is it "deceptive" if a dealer uses a vendor to do recon or photograph and write seller's comments for inventory?

Data partnerships like ours, and even white-labeling in some cases, are very common ways to  provide a better product to the end user. It is an extremely normal practice that mutually benefits all parties. There isn't anything "foolish" or "deceptive" about it.

Let's turn a necessary corner here. You seem like a very bright guy. I've appreciated reading your posts and don't have any ill will towards you or your company at all. For the sake of the community this side discussion needs to end or be it's own thread. It really isn't pertinent to Kevin's post and I'm not sure why it came up here other than to attempt to impugn DealerRater for some reason. Offer stands, happy to chat with you on the phone at any point if you'd like to talk. No hard feelings I hope, but let's get this discussion back on track.

Kevin, This is a great line! Building a reputation online is about a consistency over time, not simply throwing money at the problem. I've said it this way before. You can't WRITE a check to RIGHT your reputation! Thanks for the reminder that this is indeed a marathon and not a sprint. What practical advice do you give to dealers to help them facilitate such a long-term strategy.

Comment by Mary-Kelly Gaebel on June 4, 2013 at 10:52am

Great post Kevin, I couldn't agree more. It's all about how you ask for reviews; this can be done both verbally and non-verbally (marketing materials, POS signage, etc) and always needs to be simple & fast. Perhaps more important, is making sure the customer understands why reviews are important to your dealership and why they should take the time. Always enjoy reading sound advice that I too use when working with my clients.

Comment by Alexander Lau on June 4, 2013 at 8:47am

Ryan, I'm just stating that's the case and it was sheer luck in stumbling across it.

If you'd like me to divulge the info of your partner's software, which is clearly being licensed by DR, which has been white labeled, I could do that. Then again, everyone reading this board could also find this out and get it for far cheaper than DealaerRater 360, so I held my tongue on your behalf. Therefore, it's not hostility, just the truth. "Foolish" was probably a bad word to use, rather "deceptive" a probably better word to use. DR might serve dealers better and I agree, the software is stellar, especially the reputation management and brand analytics tools, but it should be known, it's non-native software, which could be cheaply licensed and concierged at the source level. Again, we offer the same service now.

I presume you work for DealerRater. Of course, there are tons of examples of improperly developed applications based upon poorly understood requirements, etc.

Comment by Ryan Leslie on June 4, 2013 at 8:32am

Whoa Alexander, where is all of this hostility coming from my friend? You didn't uncover any gigantic trade secret. I'm not sure why you think that a data partnership would make us "look foolish" when you've posted that your company is licensing software. Data partnerships are far from "foolish" when they help to better serve dealers in our opinion. Did Autotrader look "foolish" for partnering with Homenet for the data services they implemented? Could they build it themselves? Sure. Did it allow them to provide better service to dealers much faster if they partnered with Homenet? Sure. There are probably better examples, but that was the first really obvious one to come to mind. I think they'd have been foolish to try to recreate something that already exists in the market. In my opinion, investing the time in building something that looks, feels, smells, tastes exactly like an existing product is what makes companies look foolish. They typically fail a lot at the expense of the dealer along the way.

It is definitely worth noting that the data WE share with our data partner is essential to them in meeting our objectives. We're supplying this partner with a ton of our own data, it truly is a partnership in that regard.

Last thought, I don't want Kevin's excellent and highly practical post to get bogged down, that isn't fair to him or to dealers that come here to learn. Give me a call if you want to talk, I'll be at my desk all afternoon. 800.266.9455 xtn 3562

Comment by Alexander Lau on June 4, 2013 at 7:25am

I saw a stat the other day. For every negative review, 30 vehicles are lost. There are LOADS of people out there that take negative reviews into consideration in purchasing their cars. Here's another link for women buyers:

Comment by Trish Rowsell on June 4, 2013 at 7:21am

This is something I tell my clients everyday.. some dealers do not understand that even if you remove the human element (people like reviews) you need to consider how reviews online work for Linkbuilding and site authority. An increased number of reviews, will result in your site being crawled deeper and more often by search engines. Win win!

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