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It’s not what invalidates an online review, it’s who: The Internet Shopper. It won’t matter if all your reviews are 5-star and earned, and/or if all your reviews also have great grammar and spelling, and they all come 100% from real customers. Even if that is the 100% truth for your dealership, you don’t appear to have valid reviews--because nobody is perfect, and shoppers know that.
And I know a dealer who says he has exactly that situation: 5-star reviews earned and all with great writing and grammar, and he says that they are real reviews by real customers. Even I have trouble believing that, and I have a high opinion of the dealer!! To someone shopping, however, it’s worse than that and the truth does NOT matter—this looks false to a shopper. However, having some reviews that were bad and that you responded to positively as the owner makes your real reviews look real and you look like the fair business you are.
We get the real reviews we get, so to that dealer who says they get these reviews from real customers who just happen to write well, then they may not look real on the Web, which can be unfortunate. In this case, he says it can’t be helped. However, over all the hundreds of reviews I’ve now seen from other dealers all over (not just my area), I can say it is far more typical to get reviews that are not all 5-star and not all great. And not all written with perfect English skills. Many are short and sweet, as well.
An example of reviews that are patently false comes from a dealer who is in my own area that has perfect reviews, clearly purchased from a shady “review service”—easy to see, since 20 of the latest reviewers also bought cars in three other states. At the same time. A bit more of a coincidence than one should accept, especially since these reviewers also stayed at hotels nowhere near these dealerships in an area stretching from Austin to Canada!
And then there is a dealer that I know very well who gets real reviews from real people, and he gets the one-stars and the five-stars. His average on Google, for example, is 4 out of 5, and he regularly replies as owner to reviews, good and bad, and he does so positively. And I think he reflects the vast majority of dealers who are getting reviews today.
So, what should you do? Get honest reviews, however they come out. And just accept that some will be bad reviews, and don’t get upset if that happens to you! Merely reply as the owner to your best position and STAY POSITVE. You may even thank them for the review, because if nothing else it cleared up some process issues for you that will help your future customers. And be happy to get those 5-stars, too, and let that be your goal to always achieve the best. You won't, but you should always try. It will make you look more real to shoppers, which is what you will deserve.
Because being perfect is not possible. And the appearance of perfection, even if that appearance of perfection is really earned, will hurt you and isn’t the point. Be a real dealership online as you are in person.
True greatness isn’t perfect: Flaws inspire, too. And real people buy from real dealerships. And they can tell who is real and who is not in the online reviews, and they will invalidate those reviews that don't seem real, at least in their online research--and online is where everybody starts vehicle shopping nowadays.
You knew that already, though, didn’t you?
So go get those reviews!!