Car Shoppers Head to Review Sites for Research Before Selecting a Dealership
Just like consumers in almost every other sector of ecommerce, car shoppers are doing their research online before heading out to make a purchase. According to an April 2012 poll by Digital Air Strike of US consumers who had purchased a car in the last six months, review sites were a widely used tool by car buyers during the research phase of their purchase process. In fact, 69% of consumers said review sites had an impact on the dealership they visited.
Half of respondents said reading reviews of dealerships had affirmed their choice of where to make a purchase, while about one-quarter said the reviews had no effect on them. But online feedback from other customers held an outsized influence on a small minority of car shoppers—14% said reviews were the sole reason they had decided to visit a dealership. And 5% decided to change the dealership they bought from after reading negative reviews online.
And when it came to actually buying, almost seven in 10 shoppers said reviews had aided them in their purchase decision. About four in 10 said the reviews helped them in a general sense, while three in 10 had decided to purchase from a particular dealer based on online feedback from other customers. Moreover, if a dealership had been completely absent from review sites, one in 10 respondents would have been less likely to purchase from them.
Digital Air Strike’s report also audited 600 US dealerships to gauge their social media presence, finding that most dealers had a lax attitude to Facebook, with only 5% posting on the social network daily. In fact, 42% of dealers posted with a frequency of less than once a week.
eMarketer estimates that US online ad spending by the automotive industry will hit $4.35 billion in 2012, and climb to $7.44 billion by 2016.
Read more at www.emarketer.com/
I work with many dealers around the country in setting up their Reputation Management strategy and tactical processes. I have heard many dealers initially express skepticism, and then in many cases believe they have it all handled with iPads to do Google+ Reviews, or DealerRater Certified, etc. The reality of what works best will almost always include giving consumers some degree of choice as to selecting the dealership’s business profile on the consumer review network they feel most comfortable with. But, back to your point, it has been my experience that dealers consider the whole evolution of, and creation of consumer reviews online as a big disruption to their marketing and reputation models, and not in the best way… This sort of frustration, and feeling of not being in control along with a very unclear accountability sequence can make many dealers and GM’s just plain irritated with the whole subject. For me, and the dealers I serve, when I present a logical, well laid out plan to get a handle on the dealership’s online reputation management strategy that also solves several other nagging areas of irritation, then most dealers and GM’s tha I have worked with simply say “OK, how long to get this in place?” and they want the whole thing set up and processes implemented ASAP…. (which is a whole other problem)
Take a look at http://LouFuszReviews.com and http://FeldmannReviews.com and http://www.HerbChambersReviews.com for examples of the dealer group splash page I like to set up for inclusion as invitation and links in automated emails sent to both sales and service customers, as well as during phone calls when customers are not physically present at the dealership… Here is a couple of examples showing the “choices” dealers should offer customers as to where they feel comfortable posting a review that I referenced: http://FeldmannNissanReviews.com and http://loufuszreviews.com/loufuszfordreviews.html
As for the very important review generating process when customers are actually at the dealership, I recommend using ether Presto Reviews or BusinessRater combined with a sales process that sets the customer up with an iPad to post their review and describe their car buying experience while the salesperson is gathering documentation and getting the deal set up in the Finance and Insurance Department… This goes a long way towards making better use of the customer’s time after a deal is closed and before F&I is ready for the salesperson to bring the customer into their office. In the service customer lounge, I recommend a PC powered kiosk with signage that encourages customers to rate their experience with the service department while they are waiting for their car to be completed, or brought around after the cashier is done with them… Obviously, the cashiers and service advisors must be trained to encourage customers to post their reviews, or even show them how. When the dealer is using Presto Reviews or BusinessRater, the whole process is not only much easier than the other non-business targeted review sites, but the dealer has the ability to include survey questions which can become a VERY valuable database of information about the actual customers who spend money at your actual dealership. Plus, when their is an issue, management gets to find out about it before the customer leaves the dealership, when it is much easier to resolve… Everybody wins! We are putting this system into Ken Grody Ford‘s two locations in Buena Park, CA and Carlsbad, CA starting tomorrow!
Welcome to Automotive Reputation Management for Car Dealers on WordPress.com. This blog is for your benefit in understanding the strategies and tactics that create an effective Reputation Management program for car dealers.
Here are my Top Ten favorite dealership review and rating sites listed in order of what I personally consider to be their desirability to have positive dealer reviews on them… In other words, if I had 100 positive reviews for my dealership and wanted to have ten of them posted to ten dealership review and rating sites, these are the ten sites i would choose:
The Video clip below was produced by PrestoReviews and is a great tool to use in meetings at your dealership for ensuring that people in your dealership’s management and leadership team understand how important having a Reputation Management Strategy is for every car dealership…
The following video was created and published by Checkered Flag Automotive as a means of driving additional reviews and ratings from their customers… I included this as a “Best in Class” example of a dealership encouraging their customers to post reviews about their experience at the dealership in the physical world, to the top review and rating sites in the online world:
Of the Ten Dealership Review and Rating sites I have listed, the only provider that allows dealership reviews to be executed by consumers while they are at the dealership (that I am aware of) is Presto Reviews. Scott Falcone and his team at PrestoReviews.com have built their entire model around dealers encouraging customers to post reviews while at the dealership and providing them with work stations to do so… Scott and his team at Presto Reviews encourages dealers to provide comfortable and quiet places with online access to sales customers while they are waiting to meet with a Finance Manager or complete the Finance and Insurance documentation, so they can post a review and rate their experience buying their new or used car that day… While it is still fresh in their minds, and while the dealership can still have an opportunity to correct any deficiencies reported. Presto reviews also encourages dealers to provide kiosks or other means for service customers to post online reviews on the dealership’s Presto Reviews site while at the dealership getting their car serviced.
One of the reasons I like the Presto Reviews model is that it fairly assures dealers that all reviews posted, moderated by the dealer’s Social Media Marketing Manager or Service Provider (if that service provider is worth anything at all), are from actual customers of the dealership and not nefarious individuals seeking to tarnish a dealership’s reputation for reasons outside of actually being one of their customers.
The other nine sites that I have listed in the beginning of this article each forbid reviews from being posted at the place of business. This is done to protect the integrity of the reviews from dealers who might seek to “stuff the ballot box” so to speak, and helps ensure that anyone with an axe to grind at that dealership can post a negative review without necessarily revealing their identity to the dealership.
Kudos to DealerRater.com for creating a validation process which allows DealerRater.com Certified Dealers to contact DealerRater users who have posted a negative review prior to that negative review being publicly visible. This allows each dealer to offer a resolution to each customer’s concern… And, if the customer is actually a bogus post, who does not come back to DealerRater.com to review the dealer’s offer within 5 working days, the dealer can request that DealerRater.com remove the negative review based on its high likelihood of being nefarious and posted by somebody other than an actual dealership customer.
Yelp goes so far as to have an Official Policy that strongly forbids incentives for customer reviews and highly recommends that dealers DO NOT ask customers to post reviews. In addition, Yelp’s technology is designed to recognize when a consumer is using a mobile device, and when that customer posts a review on their mobile device (at the dealership), Yelp holds the review as a “Draft” and will not let that review go live until the customer has reviewed, edited and resubmitted their review from a PC located at work or home… Of course, all of these measures make positive reviews for dealers on Yelp all the more attractive and valuable!
Tim lists the following Dealer Review and Rating sites as his most useful:
Google Local Business Listings
Other reviews sites Tim is aware of that show up in search for a dealership by name are: