If you are not monitoring your online reviews and your reputation score, now is the time to start. Amazon and Google have conditioned us to look at reviews first and foremost. Think about the last time you were shopping online. I ignore any site that does not have at least 4 stars, and generally, I look at 4.5 and higher.
If I was looking at your dealership online, would I consider buying from you?
59% of car buyers choose a dealership based on online reputation, and you want to make sure that you are not taken out of the game before they even know you because of your online reputation. There are many factors that go into your reputation score, and they will be highlighted towards the end for your reference.
Here are some elements that were present in the majority of reviews online:
Take a look at your online reviews. I am willing to bet that the majority of reviews deal with your service department. Service reviews drive customers to and from your dealership, and if you have a happy service customer, they will most likely become a happy sales customer. Phrases such as “Great Customer Experience” are most frequent in the 5-star reviews, and you need to provide those experiences to prompt these comments.
Action Items for Service Reviews:
- Provide a clean and comfortable customer lounge. Do you have ample charging stations? Is there Wi-Fi available?
- How transparent are you with your customers? Make sure you communicate often and provide either face-to-face, video, text or phone call updates to keep the customer knowledgeable in the process. Remove all surprises on the service end.
- Ask for the review in person! There are many reputation management solutions that will allow you to text the customer a review while they are still with you. Take advantage of the moments when the customer is happy with your service and get that review.
Everyone is a Professional
Have you ever been in a dealership and overheard a conversation you wished you had not? A salesperson talking badly about a customer in earshot of the floor? I have witnessed customers walk out of the dealership because of situations like this, highlighting the importance of professionalism.
DealerRater notes that phrases such as “entire staff acts professional” and terms like “friendly, helpful, knowledgeable” in conjunction with the entire staff are frequent in 5-star reviews.
Action Items for the Sales Team
- Training is key. Make sure that when you hire new staff, they are trained on not only their job and the products, but also the culture of your dealership. Some terms used frequently in online reviews, such as low pressure, stress-free, and never felt pressured, should be the guide to your dealership culture. Train from the top down on pressure-free methods.
- After the sale, and while the customer is waiting in F&I, have them fill out a review for the dealership. This is a great opportunity to engage the customer while they are still excited about their purchase. Buying a car is a highly emotional process, and why not ask for the review while the consumer is excited about his/her new car?
- Also think of ways to shorten the time for paperwork in the dealership. Whether you are utilizing a digital marketing platform on your website or have adopted a sales app that takes you from Greet to Deliver, find ways to make the customer’s buying process quicker, easier, and more transparent.
Here’s a little additional knowledge about your reputation score
If you have not paid attention to it the past, take a look now. Your reputation score is different than your star rating, and takes many things into consideration—including star rating, number of reviews, frequency of reviews, and review response. Reputation score ratings range from 0-1000, with the current industry standard around 550. A well-performing dealership with a great rep score may be in the high 800s.
You could have a 4.8-star Google rating, but your rep score could be in the 300s because you have 6 reviews and have not had one in 5 months. Think of it like a credit score. You may not owe much, but if you don’t have credit, your credit score will be lower.
Make sure you look at your score and devise a plan to get it where it needs to be. And remember, SEO is also affected by your Google star rating. So keep an eye on it!