Professional Community for Car Dealers, Marketing, Advertising and Sales Leaders
There has been a lot written lately about Internet Reputation Management (IRM). For automotive dealerships and other businesses that
rely on their reputation, IRM boils down to one phrase: Get your
customers to leave your business positive reviews. Yes, SEO does a
great job of getting most bad press and links to review sites off your
first page of search results. But the negative reviews and info are
still our there and easy to find. But what about Google Places? Google
searches the Internet for reviews about your business, aggregates them
all and displays your average “star” rating (1-5, where 5 stars is the
best) right at the top of your Google search results. If you’re a 4.5
star or above dealership, then you’re doing fine, however this is less a
few percent of all dealers in the US.
Your customers are already talking about you online. The number of sites that allow users to review businesses seems to be growing daily. I
won’t bore you with statistics but negative reviews hurt your business.
Every day, more and more people are using customer reviews to decide
who they do business with. You can no longer afford to ignore what
people are saying about your business online.
The challenge is how you do you manage what is said about you and your business online? The first step is to see what’s currently out
there. When you Google your business name, what shows up? Is it all
hate and venom? Any good reviews around? Your percentage should be
between 90-95% positive. Is this what you are seeing? If not, you need
to get to work.
Here are some tips for improving and managing your Dealership's Internet Reputation.
• You can’t fake it. All major review sites use sophisticated IP address recognition and tracking software. Users that leave multiple
reviews from the same IP Address (A unique identifier given to
individual computers and networks) will be immediately recognized and
all associated reviews will be removed. Even worse is the possibility
that a dealership can be publicly identified as posting faking reviews.
This is a PR nightmare that the media loves to run with. Do not fake
reviews. Your reviews must come directly from your customers. It is
fine to ask for reviews, but they must always be written by your
customers and away from your dealership. Be careful of any service that
states they leave the review on the behalf of the customer. It’s fine
to ask your customers to leave reviews but you can’t do the typing for
• Don’t buy reviews. Don’t offer free services like oil changes or tire rotations in exchange for a review or testimonial. If you do
compensate your customers for reviews, you must disclose that the writer
of the review has been compensated for the review. If you do not
disclose the compensation, you are violation of FTC rules.
• Don’t sweat the Negative Reviews. No matter how well you and your team run your business, you will always receive negative reviews. Why?
The Internet makes it very easy for people to anonymously and safely
complain about anything. Have you looked around online? You’ve seen
it. People love to complain! Here are some complaints commonly seen
- If you’re short a service writer one day and someone has to wait 5 minutes before they are helped, the customer can go online and complain.
- If your service tech got a touch of boot grease on the carpet, the customer can go online and complain.
- If the coupon they bring in is expired and you do not honor it, the customer can go online and complain.
- If the customer was shown a F&I menu after they said they were not interested in any extras, they can go online and complain.
- If the car you just sold is a dealer trade and the navigation disc is missing and they’ll have to wait until Parts is open tomorrow to get
one, oh and the valet key is missing too, they can go online and
You get the point. Negative reviews are now just part of business. The good news is they only hurt you if you ignore them and don't try to smother them with positive reviews. If you let
them accumulate to where they make-up a high-percentage of your reviews,
then they make you look bad. If you have 9 positive reviews for every 1
negative review than the positive outweighs the negative. The problem
is that 99% of your happy customers won’t leave positive reviews without
some coaxing and pleading. But if you get your customers to “spread
the love” online, those negative reviews lose their power, visibility
Automotive Dealership Internet Reputation Management is not rocket science! Here are the 3 keys to maintaining a Positive Internet Reputation.
1) Monitor the web everyday for new mentions and reviews of your dealership
2) Promptly and correctly respond to any negative reviews that warrant a response
3) Call your customers, make sure they are happy, ask them to leave a review, get them to say they will, send them an email with instructions and links. Watch the positive authentic reviews pour in.