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How Yelp Can Help

Five star rating
Article Highlights:

  • 90% of U.S. consumers read online reviews but only 6% actually write them.
  • 4 of 5 buyers reverse their purchase decision based on negative reviews.

We are living in “The Age of the Customer.” What you do at your dealership matters, but what the customer thinks about your dealership matters more. This has never been more apparent than now, with the power of online communities and the reviews they give a business. After all, four out of every five consumers reverse their purchase decision based on negative online reviews.1

Yelp is just one of many online communities where consumers can share their opinions about a business. A person can include comments and pictures and rate the business with a 1-5 rating. So, if someone is searching for a restaurant, a dentist, or a dealership, he can search near his city and Yelp populates a list within seconds. Not only does it provide a list of businesses near him, but also reviews, general information, and other nearby businesses. This last bit can be disconcerting for some. After all, if your dealership pops up first but has terrible reviews, what’s stopping a person from moving on to different dealership? To help combat negative reviews you might receive, you need to have an active voice in the online community.

With an active voice, there are ways to turn your dealership reviews into free marketing. But it’s important to make sure you aren’t compromising the integrity of the reviews. How do you do that? How can you steer people to review your dealership in a positive light without losing control of the wheel?

Here are some tips to help you navigate Yelp, and other online community, reviews:

  1. Comments trump stars. Even if your business has a great rating, you still need to consider the comments. According to Jon Hall, founder of grade.us, customers view blank 5-star reviews with suspicion, and for good reason: fake reviews are very common these days. The good news? Customers are also suspect of very negative reviews. When most people are writing a review, they’re angry about one aspect or issue. Customers searching Yelp realize this and take the time to thoroughly read the review. While they may still take it into account, they take it with a grain of salt.
  2. Positive or substantial? Positive reviews are great. But substantial reviews are better. Think about when you’re reading reviews. Do you want to see the “Great!” comments and blank 5-five star reviews or the ones with more detail? They might not be perfect, but that’s okay. They provide real-life insights into your dealership and personal experiences can connect your business to people.
  3. Get more. 90% of typical U.S. consumers read online reviews but only 6% actually write them.How can you get more substantial reviews? Anticipate what motivates people to write reviews. Make it easy for customers to write reviews and remind them to share their experiences before they even leave your dealership.
  4. Keep an eye on your online presence. Don’t just ask for reviews – follow up with them. Proactively asking for reviews and responding is a one-two punch. It’s showing current and future customers reading reviews that you’re actively trying to provide a positive customer experience. Make sure you’re responding to reviews or contributions and you’re doing it in a timely manner. A day or two is fine. A month or two is not. You’ll also drive yourself crazy if you try to respond to every review.
    • In general, you should respond to negative reviewers wherever possible. Readers tend to see positive reviews as self-serving, patting the customer on the back for his or her own good taste, while they may assume negative reviews were directly caused by the customer experience and therefore more valid.3
    • Thank the reviewer for his time and feedback – whether a negative or positive review was written. Although it might be tempting to get defensive, don’t. Assume all reviewers are trying to help your business get better.


These are just a few ways you can positively grow your online community presence and turn reviews into endorsements for your dealership. If you need help, partner with a company who specializes in reputation management. Don’t be one of the 4 that miss out on sales or service because of your negative online reviews – be the one that gets the business.

1 “Online Influence Trend Tracker.” Cone Communications. 2011.

2 Leggett, K., “Navigate the Future of Customer Service.” Forrester Research, 2013.

3 Chen, Y., S. Fay, and W. Qi, “The Role of Marketing in Social Media: How Online Consumer Reviews Evolve.” Journal of Interactive Marketing (Mergent, Inc.), 2011. 25 (2): p. 85-94

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Katie earned a bachelor’s degree in Media Management with a minor in Business from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She was a Marketing Communications Professional at Reynolds and Reynolds in Dayton.

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