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Tips for Establishing a Good Online Dealership Reputation

five blue stars
Article Highlights:

  • Your dealership doesn’t need to have a perfect 5-star rating.
  • It doesn’t hurt to ask customers to review your business online.

Your online presence is an essential form of communication between you and your customers— it allows you to stay in the loop with what customers think about your services, as well as what they look for in a positive business experience.  Your online presence also provides a great outlet for consumers to get accurate information about your business directly from the source.

Just last year, 99% of consumers used the internet to find information about their local businesses, and 78% of consumers did so multiple times a week (Bright Local, 2022). The web is one of the key places that your customers are going to receive information, so it is essential that your dealership not only has a digital presence, but is taking advantage of this outlet to communicate with consumers and establish a good online reputation.

While some of them may seem simple, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your dealership not only appears online, but that it appears to be reliable and focused on the needs of customers:

Keep customers in the loop

One of the first things that you see on the internet when searching for any business is its basic information, such as location, hours, contact info, and website. Making sure this information is accurate and updated is critical to establishing a good reputation with consumers online. This is especially important for businesses like dealerships, where inventory changes quickly. No one wants to show up to test drive a car that was sold days earlier, and making sure that you’re on top of your online presence can prevent these kinds of miscommunications and lots of wasted time for the consumer.

Be sure to read search engine results (as well as ratings and reviews) to ensure that key information about your dealership is correct. You might come across a review that says something along the lines of:

“This site says their service department is open 8-5 on Saturdays, but when I showed up at 4 no one was there.”

Whether these kind of customers received inaccurate information from your website or simply made a mistake, it is important that you address the situation and work to ensure they (and other customers) can easily find the most accurate information about your dealership as possible.

Any changes, such as updated business hours or the completion of a vehicle sale, need to be adjusted on the web as soon as possible to ensure that customers are getting the most accurate information about your business directly from you.

You don’t need to have a perfect 5-star rating

Customers are fairly understanding—after all, no one is perfect. In many situations, customers place more emphasis in how your business responds to its reviews (both positive and negative) rather than the reviews themselves. 89% of consumers say they are likely to use a business that responds to all of its online reviews, but 57% are disinterested in businesses that don’t respond to any reviews at all (Bright Local, 2022).

It might not always be possible to respond to each review that customers write about your dealership, but putting in an effort does a lot to establish your credibility to potential customers and show current ones that their opinions are valued.

When responding to any online reviews, it’s important to be personable and not simply respond to every review in the same generic way.  Being able to thank customers for their feedback and personalize your response with any details about their experience (such as their name or what service they received) is extremely helpful.

When dealing with a negative review from a dissatisfied customer, a little empathy can go a long way. It’s important for customers to see that you are able to acknowledge any potential problems, as well as resolve them. Instead of getting defensive, it is better to listen to what the customer has to say and work to communicate with them privately to resolve any issues they have. Thanking a customer for their feedback and inviting them to discuss the matter with you offline is a great way to show that you are responsive to customer concerns while also preventing the matter from escalating or being taken out of context.

It doesn’t hurt to ask

Of course it is essential that your dealership is actually receiving online reviews in order to address them. So what is the best way to encourage customers to share their feedback? Providing great customer service is always the first step towards garnering a good review, but consumers are also more likely to share their experience online if they are prompted to do so. 16% of consumers reported that they would be “very likely” to leave a review of a business if a staff member suggested it to them, and an additional 41% said that they would be “likely” to do it (Bright Local, 2022).

While not every customer is going to have much to say about their experience (or even want to share it), if you are providing good customer service, it doesn’t hurt to ask your customers to review your business online. Just remember not to be pushy and make customers feel like leaving a review is a requirement, which could end up frustrating valued customers.

Establishing a good online reputation for your business is no easy feat, but the effort pays off in the long run. The web is great source of information for potential customers, current ones, and businesses alike. Taking the time to work on your digital presence and online reputation can help keep you informed of your customers interests, wants, and needs while ensuring that your customers are getting the most accurate information about your dealership as possible. It’s a win-win.

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Mollie is a Marketing Communications Specialist at Reynolds and Reynolds. Since joining the team in 2022, she’s guided initiatives for Reynolds marketing products, produced the Connected podcast, and worked with dealers to collect testimonials and success stories. Mollie received her bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and English from Marietta College. She also obtained an associate’s degree in Marketing from Rhodes State College.

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