auto dealer reviewsAuto dealer reviews that frame your business in a positive light can have an impressive impact on your bottom line.

Before the digital age exploded and changed the way we do everything, you probably got a large portion of your customers the old-fashioned way: word of mouth. If Sharon were thinking about buying a new car, she would ask a few trusted friends and family members for their opinions, and then make a decision based on the input she received.

Today, the basic idea remains the same, but it is now amplified and on a much greater scale. For example, Sharon will still probably seek opinions from her inner circle — but then she is also going to log in to her computer and see how some of those recommended dealerships fare in the court of public opinion by checking online auto dealer reviews.

Some dealership owners are a bit dismissive about the importance of online reviews, and if you’re one of them, it’s time to change your tune. The truth is that about 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Getting positive auto dealer reviews can be essential to the future of your business. But, how do you get them?

Tips for getting some of the best auto dealer reviews online

Auto dealer reviews are extremely important, but many dealerships are clueless when it comes to knowing how to get customers to actually sit down and share their thoughts online. The entire process can involve a lot of trial and error, but here are some basic do’s and don’ts to get you started:

Do: Focus on providing exceptional customer service

This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are many dealers who don’t prioritize customer service, and then expect customers to rave about the experience. If your team works hard to make customers feel welcome, special, and important, those positive feelings often inevitably lead to a glowing review.

Don’t: Offer any type of payment or incentives for reviews

Most online review sites forbid the practice of “buying” reviews, and have the algorithms to figure out if you’re doing it. Once you get flagged for it, you’ll look sketchy to customers. Any reputable business should not have to pay customers to write good reviews.

Do: Ask happy customers who share their happiness with you

Whether you are closing a deal and you have developed an outstanding relationship with the customer, or a past customer calls just to tell you how much they love their car, use those opportunities to your advantage. If you have the attention of a happy customer, simply ask them if they would mind leaving you a review online.

Don’t: Ask for positive reviews or tell people what to say

When asking for an auto dealer review, do not try to manipulate the content of that review. Simply ask for a review and tell them you really appreciate their help. Being told how to feel does not usually sit well with people.

Do: Thank customers for the nice reviews (and respond appropriately to the negative ones)

If a customer takes the time to leave a positive review for your dealership, be sure to respond on the site (if possible) and thank them. This keeps the good feelings alive for that customer, and shows review readers that your dealership goes the extra mile to appreciate customers in general.

Likewise, you should also be responding to any negative reviews. Try to diffuse the situation, apologize if appropriate, and provide possible solutions to the problem. Every business gets negative reviews, but it’s how you respond to them that will set you apart from the rest.

Don’t: Ignore reviews and or get defensive

When you ignore positive reviews, you look rude or ungrateful. When you get defensive after someone posts a negative review, you look unprofessional. Customer service isn’t just for the showroom. Keep the positive vibe online, as well.

Do: Enhance your overall online presence

If you want customers to leave good online reviews for your dealership, ensure your overall online presence is strong. Set up profiles for your dealership on sites like Yelp, Google Local, and Cars.com — after all, customers can’t leave reviews on pages that don’t exist. Also, be sure to get active on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. These sites should be an extension of the exceptional service customers can expect to receive in your dealership, and hopefully, they can serve as reminders for past customers who meant to leave a review earlier.

Don’t: Post fake reviews

Don’t make a fake Yelp profile so that you can leave a five-star review for your dealership. Most users can spot a fake a mile away, and it will only make you and your business look bad. Authentic is the way to go when it comes to auto dealer reviews.

Prioritize customer service and the positive reviews will follow

So many dealerships try to get positive reviews by using tricky, underhanded tactics. Have you ever heard the phrase “good things happen to good people?” It holds true in the world of online reviews, too. Go out of your way to make customers happy, and they will do the rest. Americans say they tell an average of nine people about good experiences — which means that if you do your job, and do it well, your customers will have no problem singing your praises.

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