Why You Should Address Negative News about Your Dealership

Why You Should Address Negative News about Your Dealership

A lot of negative perceptions exist in the auto industry. Whether it’s an unpleasant experience with a salesperson, a bad service reputation, or yet another vehicle recall, something always can and will go wrong.

As a marketing manager or sales manager at a dealership, how do you respond to this negativity? Does your response establish trust with potential customers, or does it contribute to the greasy stigma often associated with auto dealers?

It sounds a little crazy, but consider this: if you were to openly talk about the negative aspects of your brand, you could create transparency and build trust with your current and potential customers.

Someone will address these negative questions. Will it be you?

Join the Conversation (Even If It’s a Negative One)

No one’s perfect. If you’re pretending your dealership is, customers will see right through you.

Instead, take ownership of the flaws with your dealership and/or original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and become a helpful voice in the conversation. Not only will you show your customers you’re honest, you’ll also have the opportunity to teach them from your perspective.

When there’s negative news about your brand, rumors spread and people jump to conclusions — which can really hurt your business. But what hurts even more is when you don’t join the conversation to explain the truth, leading to further ignorance in the marketplace.

At 9 Clouds, we sell through the power of great teaching, and we encourage our clients to do the same. It’s not always easy to convince dealerships that transparency is a good idea — after all, being vulnerable is hard.

But we truly believe that candor pays off. We’ve seen how addressing negative reviews can help auto dealers build trust with leads and customers. Are you ready to talk about the things that no one else in your space is talking about?

elephants in a field, symbolizing the "elephant in the room"

Turn Your Weaknesses into Strengths

In his book They Ask, You Answer, keynote speaker Marcus Sheridan asserts that when people buy, they worry more about what will go wrong than what will go right.

“It is for that reason that, for example, when someone is buying a 2017 Ford Mustang, their main searches would be either ‘2017 Ford Mustang Reviews’ or ‘2017 Ford Mustang Negative Reviews.'”

— Marcus Sheridan, They Ask, You Answer

Buyers want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly — but they’re mostly concerned with the ugly.

So, what do you do? You address the elephant in the room. As a business, Sheridan says, you have a choice:

  • You can allow the consumer to discover your elephant(s) themselves and, in turn, lose trust in you.
  • Or, the minute they walk in the front door (or virtual front door), you can say, “Here’s our elephant. Do you have a problem with it?”

How many times do leads ask you about potential problems they may experience with your vehicles or your dealership? Can you imagine how many more people have searched those same questions online?

These shoppers got their answers from somewhere. Wouldn’t it be great if they got their answers from you?

Here are four questions that can help you identify areas where you can join the conversation and build trust for your brand.

1. What Are the Specific Problems Associated with Certain Vehicles You Sell?

If someone buys SUV X, what are the common maintenance issues associated with it? How much money do these issues usually cost drivers of SUV X? Do they pose a major safety risk? Does your service department have experience with fixing these problems? Can customers still be confident in purchasing SUV X with the assurance that your service team consists of all-star technicians?

Being open about these concerns shows that you care about the customer’s experience, not just about making a sale.

2. How Do You Handle Vehicle Recalls?

Vehicles get recalled. It happens. There’s no sense in pretending otherwise.

In fact, acknowledging a recall shows that you care about the safety of your customers. What should drivers do when their vehicle faces a recall? What they can expect from the recall experience at your dealership?

Rather than ignoring the news of a recall, write a blog post about it, or send an email to owners of the affected vehicle, letting them know you’re looking out for them.

3. Are You Transparent about Pricing and Financing?

Or, do you hide the real prices and financing information behind fine print?

The automotive market is competitive, and every potential lead is important. We get that. We know special incentives and offers can get those leads onto your lot. (Vehicles are expensive, after all!)

Just advertise your terms clearly up-front. If you don’t, that shadiness will come back to bite you in the form of a bad reputation. But if you do, you’ll have the opportunity to stand behind your brand and its value. Trust us, customers will appreciate your honesty.

4. What Does Your Competition Say Is a Flaw with Your Vehicles or Service?

Don’t turn this into a competitor-bashing contest.

Instead, ask yourself how you can address your own issues transparently, both online and in your dealership. Don’t deny them, but find creative ways to promote the advantages of your brand instead.

This type of content would also pair smoothly with “conquest” types of email and Facebook marketing.

man covering face, avoiding negative topics about his auto dealership

What Other Topics Are You Avoiding?

If there’s something you really don’t want to address, you probably should before someone else does — and frames it in an ugly light.

Own up to your flaws, address them, and educate your customers. Answer the questions people are already asking. You’ll provide them with value and, ultimately, build trust.

If you’re not sure how to best do that, we might be able to help.

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