Article

Make Online Reputation Management a Priority

July 2011, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Tony Troussov - Also by this author


Several decades ago, Peter Drucker coined the phrase, “What gets measured gets done.” This philosophy still holds true. Current technology allows us to measure just about anything at a store.

Placing emphasis on sales process, inventory, online traffic and online marketing can and will produce results in most cases. As long as it is being used, your CRM is a great tool. If you have the right people, they are doing a great job managing your store’s profitability and CSI. They provide you with great reports and P&L statements at the end of each month. You think you’ve measured everything, but what about your online reputation? When was the last time you Googled your dealership? Do you know how many stars your dealership is rated with? Have you read any reviews posted about your store?

There is no such person or business in the world that would want to have bad reputation, yet you’ll find plenty of dealers who seem to by ignoring their online reputations. According to the WordWeb Dictionary, reputation is defined as “the general estimation that the public has for a person/business.” How is your estimation? In today’s online business environment, your online reputation could mean more business or no more business. If you think prospective buyers do not check your online reputation before they come for a service or a sales visit, you are wrong.

You have to make online reputation your priority. Where do you want to start? Identify where you are. Google your store and see what type of rating you have now. Google uses a simple star rating from one star, “hated it,” to five stars, “loved it.” In addition to a variety of local websites, there are national ones like dealerrater.com, judysbook.com and yelp.com. As your prospective customers search for directions to your store, Google Maps will show them a total number of reviews left by your customers. Once you know your dealership’s review count and star rating, check your competition.

What customers say about you is extremely important; what they say about your competition is just as important. If you have a higher rating and more reviews than your competitors, it is not the time to celebrate. If you have not paid attention to your online reputation, you most likely have fewer than 30 reviews. The world’s largest Lexus dealership has 36. The goal is to create separation between your store and your competitors’ not only in star ratings but also in the amount of reviews.

By now you might wonder, “How do I receive more good online reviews?” Ask. Keep in mind, you do not have to prompt your upset customers to write a review; they’ll do it on their own. Online reputation management is everyone’s job. Starting with the dealer or general manager all the way down to the receptionist, all employees must have awareness and an action plan. The best thing you can do for yourself and your team is to rate a business yourself. Choose your favorite restaurant or hotel and write a review about them. You’ll feel good as well as learn the process. Next, ask your team to do the same. Once everyone knows how to do it, they’ll have more confidence asking for and explaining customers how to do it.

The best time to ask is when a customer is raving about their experience to a salesperson, service advisor or a manager, whether in person, over the phone, or in an email or letter. Additionally, you can reach out to those who made positive comments about your store on the factory surveys. To get the momentum going, set up the store goal for the month and give employees an incentive (lunch, a company jacket or a gift card). Then read reviews during your sales meetings, and recognize those with most reviews.

After the initial success, keep going. If well developed and maintained, your online reputation is a silent marketing tool which will keep on sending new business your way. Remember, if you continuously measure your “estimation,” it will get done. Now, go ahead and Google your store!

Vol. 8, Issue 5

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