How to Save a Dealership Reputation That’s Under Attack

dealership reputation

Bad reviews pop up from time to time, but are you prepared to defend your dealership reputation when it’s under attack?

Word of mouth has always been a factor in a car dealer’s success, but the internet has increased the speed at which information travels. Dealerships are under more pressure than ever to maintain a perfect dealership reputation. One wrong move and you could be dealing with a negative publicity nightmare that could potentially put you out of business.

It’s great when the reviews are positive, but it’s unrealistic to expect they’ll all be “Completely Satisfied.”dealership reputation

Reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, DealerRater, and even Facebook can impact the opinions of thousands of people in mere seconds. Even the best dealers have to defend their reputation from time to time, and they know that ignoring bad reviews isn’t an option when more than half of all U.S. car buyers depend on what other people have to say about their dealership experiences. Shoppers are a lot more trusting of an auto dealer that has a few negative reviews when they can see how hard the dealer works to come up with a resolution. However, there are times where it gets a little harder to resolve the problem.

Your customer may have a legitimate reason to complain, but even if you’ve done everything you can to try to make them happy, they may still decide to plaster bad reviews on all the major sites. They’re tarnishing your dealership reputation, and you have to do something before it affects your bottom line.

Keep your cool.

It’s easy to get heated when someone’s attacking your business, but getting upset isn’t going to make the situation any better. Always reply in a calm, and professional manner. Remember, you’re not only responding to the customer but to thousands of other potential clients, too.dealership reputation

Respond with care.

Always make the time to reply to each customer review with a personalized, thoughtful response. You want potential clients to know you have the customer’s best interest at heart while highlighting your business’s strengths.

For example:

“Hi, Mary. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your concerns with us. I’m sorry you feel unsatisfied with your experience, as it’s never our intention to let our client’s down. We’d love another chance to give you the same first class service thousands of customers have enjoyed for the past 25 years.”


“Hello, Kevin. We appreciate your feedback regarding the delivery of your 2017 Chevy Malibu. We’re so sorry to hear you are unhappy with the experience. Friendly Motors has sold thousands of vehicles since 1993, and we strive to make each sale as enjoyable as possible. Please call( me at your nearest convenience, and we’ll do everything we can to make it right.”

Don’t forget to include contact information when required. It’s important to make it easy for the client to contact you to try to resolve the problem.

You may be able to change a customer’s review after just a few exchanges, but sometimes it’s not that easy. You may feel defeated, but there are still a few things you can try.

Tell your side of the story.

There are some instances where you can’t get a customer to change their review, but you can respond with your side of the story. You never want to argue with a customer online, but sometimes you have to show potential shoppers that you know how to handle threatening or even aggressive reviewers. For example:

“Hello Peter, We have made numerous attempts to come to a resolution regarding your claims that Friendly Motors does not honor their dealer warranty. We have checked our database and haven’t found any record of you bringing your vehicle in for us to look at your exhaust problem. We take pride in following all state and federal warranty regulations and would have most certainly been happy to assist you, had you given us a call.”

Take it down.dealership reputation

There are some cases where harassing reviews are too damaging to your dealership reputation, even if they aren’t true at all. In cases of spam, fraud or harassment, you should be able to contact the website to have the review taken down.

The best way to protect your positive dealership reputation is prevention.

Chances are your BDC manager is the one who answers most of the reviews, and while that’s great, it’s even better to have someone from each department trained to respond to clients. Some online reviews need immediate attention, and if the person who usually replies is out sick, then you are at risk for cynical or unresolved reviews scaring off potential shoppers.

Google your business and see what you find. Fix any inaccurate information, and share positive customer feedback on your website and social media. A little effort goes a long way when trying to build a good name for your dealership.

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Patrick H.
Patrick H.