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Reviews for Car Dealerships 101


We’ve all had it. You know, the “should I/shouldn’t I?” uncertainty when making a move into the next step of a relationship. Imagine the time when you asked your significant other to be your boyfriend or girlfriend, or went in for the first kiss on a date. Selling cars isn’t as different as you might think.

Sometimes the hardest part of your relationship with a new customer isn’t selling a vehicle, it’s asking the customer to share a review about the experience online. Let’s face it, getting reviews for car dealerships can be difficult and, unfortunately, customers are far more likely to leave a review if they are unhappy with their experience. Happy customers often drive off into the sunset and aren’t heard from again until they are looking for their next vehicle. Yes, customer retention is extremely important, but these days, dealerships need more. 

So how do you convince a happy customer that you need his or her review without being pushy, and when do you come right out and ask?

1. Make it easy to leave a review.

Again, it’s usually the unhappy customers who are determined to leave a review and will stop at nothing to do so. On the other hand, if a happy customer cannot find a place to leave a review quickly and easily, he or she will likely give up.

Make sure your dealership’s profile is set up on multiple review sites, so your customers can easily find you with a quick Google search. Although Google reviews are the most popular, everyone has a specific preference, so make sure to cover all of your review site bases.

2. Don’t expect your customers to remember to leave a review.

Reviews are too important to your dealership’s success to leave to chance. According to a survey conducted by Dimensional Research and sponsored by Zendesk, 90% of respondents said that positive online reviews influenced their decisions, and 86% said their decisions were influenced by negative reviews.

If a new customer approaches your dealership with kind words or compliments you on social media, it is appropriate to kindly ask that customer to also leave a Google review. However, most customers need a little more coaxing.

So, when you do approach your customer for a review?

After working through the buying process, let your customer know how important reviews are to your dealership and that you would appreciate feedback. If your customer doesn’t bite, don’t write him or her off. Buying a car is a big deal and more likely than not, customers will forget your request. Give them a month before requesting a review via email.

Set up a workflow that triggers an email send 30 days after a new customer purchases a vehicle. Keep it short, simple, personal, and to the point. Let your customers know how much you value their business and ask them to leave a Google review. Provide a link so there is no hassle or confusion. Also provide an alternative if your customer was not satisfied with his or her experience, such as a phone number to speak to the sales manager.

3. Don’t bombard your customers with review requests.

You can’t force your customers to leave a review, so don’t be pushy. One request in person and one via email is appropriate. If neither requests convinces your customer to leave a review, don’t continue to try as you may annoy the customer. 

However, there is a sneaky exception. If you email a new customer with a promotion or reminder that it’s time to have an oil change, make one last effort to subtly mention that you’d appreciate a review (include a link). Still nothing? Cut your losses and focus on keeping your customer happy and willing to come back for his or her next vehicle.

4. Don’t ignore bad reviews.

Don’t worry, a few negative reviews won’t ruin your business. However, ignoring a negative review will definitely make your dealership look bad. Respond to any negative reviews as soon as possible. Make sure the unhappy customer knows that his or her message has been heard, and offer a solution. Even if that solution is simply to apologize in person or on the phone, it’s important that an unhappy customer doesn’t feel ignored or undervalued.

There will always be that customer who refuses to change his or her mind about your dealership, but most people are willing to work through a problem if they feel valued. A special dealership incentive is a great way to help change an unhappy customer’s mind. If not, acknowledge the complaint, apologize, and assure the customer that future experiences will be handled better.

Once you’ve worked through the problem and your customer is satisfied with the solution, it is appropriate to ask the person to change the negative feedback. You’d be surprised how many people will update their review once they feel their situation has been rectified.

Take your relationship to the next level

The best way to avoid a bad review is to offer great products and service. Learn from your negative feedback and strive to find a solution so future customers don’t encounter the same experience. If you are doing everything you can, good reviews will follow. Just remember, it’s okay to make the first move. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Want to learn more about how to make your online strategy even better? Have 9 Clouds assess your business for free by clicking below.