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Reputation Management Using DealerRater

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Reputation Management Using DealerRater

Using DealerRater.com as part of an automotive digital marketing reputation management strategy.

Website: http://www.dealerrater.com/company/certification.aspx
Location: Waltham, MA
Members: 152
Latest ADM Activity: Dec 2, 2016

Example of DealerRater.com Reviews Data Feed for Certified Dealers to embed into various dealership websites and UGC sites as well:

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DealerRater.com Information and News

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Dealer
Comment by Ryan Bolz on February 19, 2009 at 12:14pm
I agree marketing efforts should shift away from the dealer community and more toward the general public. General advertising may be sufficient, but what I would like to see are strategic partnerships. I'll preface this, knowing my example is a bit ambitious, but I think it would be the most powerful message to consumers... Cars.com recently partnered with Contact@Once to allow Cars.com users the opportunity to have click to chat in their listings. Purely a passing idea without too much thought, it would be interesting to do a search on Cars.com and see the DealerRater certified logo next to a Camry we are offering, but not on the dealer's listing below. In exchange, Cars.com could offer discounted membership rates for DealerRater certification. I think strategic partnerships of this sort, whether they be with the super service providers like AutoTrader and Cars.com or smaller companies, offer a more relevant message to consumers than commercials and banner ads.

I often think of AutoTrader and Cars.com as a necessary evil - an industry standard that you don't HAVE to tap into, but if you don't, you miss out on a share of the market your competitors will quickly eat up. To partner with a company of this caliber, DealerRater shifts as a service provider for just automotive dealers, but a service provider to dealers and customers alike. DealerRater would become the industry standard as a necessity, and the general public would quickly learn that you don't need to go to Google or Edmunds to rant or rave. The level of complexity the relationship has to be could be as minimal as shared advertising to complicated integration of various sorts. No doubt, it would be a feat to reach such an arrangement but it would be a sweet victory if it were to happen.

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You are lucky to have even met the man! Mr. Reed has somehow eluded me my entire time I've worked here. So unfortunately no jet for me, but I know Nicolas, Gene's yacht captain, and have had the opportunity to explore the Chevy Toy several times. Being a Charleston native however, Gene is a local legend.
Comment by Timothy Martell on February 19, 2009 at 10:48am
I think the first step must be consumer awareness. You're talking about opening up a HUGE number of people (the public) vs a small # of people (Dealer Community) to DealerRater. So the very nature of exposing so many people to something valuable will drive what needs to come next. The consumers demand will tell dealerrater how to evolve to best meet their needs. It will be a snowball effect. I agree about the positive reviews... I hate to say there is only so much time, because it isn't a very good reason...sounds more like an excuse. Something I will try to work into my daily process. Thanks for reminding me of what I already know! :) Its easy to shirk something until someone else who "gets it" points it out.

I think it would be nice if DealerRater added in some free production for tiule and banner ads with flash or hotspot capability. Get someone working on case studies to see what type of dealer ads on their space are successful in different markets and advise us on how to make adjustments.

Off topic. I know Gene very well (been on the jet) we had a great time in Jacksonville at the Super Bowl. He is quite a character. I don't imagine he is actively involved in what you are doing, I was surprised to see one of his stores listed as a top performer with dealer rater - he strikes me as a kind of...old school guy!

Dealer
Comment by Ryan Bolz on February 19, 2009 at 9:16am
Also Timothy (Tim?), I checked out your review page and I'm curious - why do you not post a public reply to positive reviews as well? Just looking for your thoughts on it... at the very least it can highlight stand out features of your dealership and shouldn't take very long. Sometimes a customer comments on a lesser known subject and its a great opportunity to draw attention there. An example is a customer who had a positive experience in our service department because they solved his issue with a sensitive tire pressure indicator. The fix was nitrogen in the tires, as the outside temp would change throughout the day resulting in the pressure indicator to illuminate when it was cold. It gave us a chance to enlighten customers, and that week we saw an increase in nitrogen requests at service. This is just one example, and a petty one at best, but I'm sure you know what I mean.

Dealer
Comment by Ryan Bolz on February 19, 2009 at 8:58am
Ha! - DealerRater isn't quite our Jesus, but I can admit, management at our dealership has been unstable the past decade and DR has helped reorient ourselves . We, too, were customer centric but "customer service" is a given. DR just brought that to a new level.

My question for you then is how do you think DealerRater could improve to drive sales further, and perhaps address the issue of the dealership taking on most of the responsibility in creating public awareness? Is it just a matter of consumer awareness, or are you suggesting you want a degree of automation in how reviews are leveraged to drive sales - a different or stronger means of capturing leads perhaps, or maybe something completely different?
Comment by Timothy Martell on February 19, 2009 at 8:04am
I think we may differ a bit then. One of the ways in which we are different from the "life changers" as I call them is that DealerRater didn't change the way we do business. We already had an outstanding reputation for listening to our customers and striving to improve our process to better suit our consumers' needs. DealerRater has just allowed us to be even better listeners. It wasn't like finding Jesus for us and then deciding that we were going to move in a customer centric direction. We were already there. So while it is a useful tool for us to STAY engaged with our consumers, we find the value in being able to better advertise our already great reputation in a positive environment that is easily put in front of our potential new clients. Don't lose the idealism, I'm accused by our ownership ALL THE TIME of being too idealistic. :) But remember, while we're trying to save the world one consumer at a time, we must also be mindful of the fact that we're still in it to make money. Also, don't diminish the importance of the number of reviews. Because dealerrater is still new we have a great opportunity to gain so much ground on our competition that they will never be able to catch us, 1 review a day is our goal. We are striving to be DealerRater Dealer of the year for 2010. Good luck to all who shoot for the top!

Dealer
Comment by Ryan Bolz on February 19, 2009 at 7:25am
I think we are approaching DealerRater a bit differently then - not only from an investment perspective, but maybe even the function DealerRater serves for each of us. How I've looked at it, the point is not to get the consumer to believe in a 3rd party. Instead, it is to provide the consumer with a public outlet to share their experiences with each other and empower their voice to improve that particular dealership. We aren't necessarily talking TO the consumer, but rather ENGAGING the consumer. Maybe I'm just an idealist, but I look more at how DealerRater has provided a more transparent view of our dealership and how this one company has compelled our dealership to invest significantly more in customer service - to take action and actually make positive changes. At the end of the day, the hidden message behind DealerRater is that the dealers who aggressively pursue their reviews will be a better investment for the consumer, driving sales by word of mouth.

I really don't think the number of your reviews or your rating score will ever clearly say: "Hey, this dealership is your best choice. Buy here." You will always have to be talking to the customer about why DR is important and what it means. The difference is, we didn't really have this option before as dealerships and instead of just talking to the customer with a sales pitch, we are not engaging them in dialogue.

All that being said, I understand the need for DR to actively seek marketing strategies that will raise DR awareness more globally and I have no doubt that's the goal. Ideally, we want consumers to find DR the way they do AutoTrader or Cars.com. The next step is how do we get there..
Comment by Timothy Martell on February 19, 2009 at 6:53am
We're spending $24,000/year with DealerRater, so my expectations are going to be harder to meet that someone that is only paying for certification. We're a month away from hitting the 200 review mark with a 4.9 score. As an early adopter, I understand that value. You will find, however, as you gain huge ground on your competition, consumers will actually begin to question the validity of a dealership that stands out so far above the competition. The positive then creates doubt in the consumer's mind about the integrity of DealerRater. Now WE all know just how much importance Chip places on the integrity of DealerRater, but again, the lack of consumer awareness hurts. It then falls on the dealer to explain to a consumer why you can't cheat dealerrater. So now we're back to the dealer telling the consumer... when the whole point of dealerrater is for the consumer to believe in a 3rd party. Again, no one is saying its not a great product, but there should be the beginnings of a real effort to start bringing consumer awareness into the picture. Particularly playing to the strength of DealerRater's integrity and the measures put in place to keep it honest. The yelps and yahoo's don't offer the same quality of review for the consumer and people need to know about it. There's one other point to consider. Because of the economic crisis, people are watching and paying attention to TV news as it pertains to the automotive world more than ever. This time is a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on that fact and get DealerRater's message in front of a larger viewership than normal. 10 more cents for the coffer.

Dealer
Comment by Ryan Bolz on February 19, 2009 at 6:09am
From what I understand speaking with Chip and Matt, raising consumer awareness is definitely on the agenda. Still a relatively new company, it will most definitely take time to build a proper advertising budget and acquire the contacts needed to begin forming strategic partnerships. Till then the bulk of the work getting our consumer base interested still falls on us, but I think you are underestimating the competitive nature of the industry. Within Toyota alone this is a hot topic, with the major distributors jumping on board. In South Carolina, we are seeing the effects of our major presence on DealerRater, as more and more dealerships have begun actively monitoring the site. And how much has it cost our dealership to advertise our presence on DR? Little to nothing! We've slipped it into our website, newspaper ads, emails and letter campaigns with no additional cost other that the DR certification fee which is already minimal for the results we are getting. Will every dealer be as aggressive with dealer reviews - absolutely not. But this is to the benefit of those that start paying attention early anyways.

In a nutshell... mad props to the DR.com team. The service provided is unmatched by any competitors and in my experience have worked incredibly close with our dealership to ensure we are successful.
Comment by Timothy Martell on February 19, 2009 at 5:20am
Let's not get crazy and pat everyone on the back just yet. Matt and Heather are great, but there is much that DealerRater needs to get done to make this a valuable asset to the dealer community - after all WE are the ones footing the bills. There is still a huge lack of consumer awareness. Placing ad's in automotive news and dealer rags is not the way to go. Relying on dealers to build consumer awareness is a fool's errand. There are really only a handful of dealers - like us - who will even make an attempt to do so. MOST will do everything they can to steer consumers AWAY from places like DealerRater.com. If you want to be the "CarFax" of dealerships you need to get the consumer awareness at a level that will FORCE dealers to take notice. The consumer drives our ad spend, not an ad in Automotive news. Also, since your company is still so new and your dealerbase is still relatively small. It would serve you well to have a monthly 20 Group with your top performing dealers, share ideas and get opinions from people in the business. It seems very clear that the MAJORITY (Matt L excluded) of the handful of DR.com employees have little to no real world automotive experience. That can be great when coming up with new - outside the box - ideas, but it also leaves a disconnect for the dealer who may be left feeling that you just don't get the way things work in the "real world". There's my 10 cents! Keep the change!
 
 
 

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