Love it or hate it, at this point the internet isn’t just part of the everyday business: it’s a key employee. Whether it’s shepherding business through your website or getting the word out there via social media, the internet is one of the most powerful tools of the 21st-century dealership.
But with great power comes great responsibility. As fast as the internet can grow businesses, it can also tear them down. Managing your dealership’s online reputation is critical if you want to succeed.
Some Quick Numbers
In case you’re still not convinced you need to invest time in shoring up your online profile or aren’t sure how much to invest in doing so, here are some quick numbers from a 2018 Bright Local survey that might change your mind. Their Local Consumer Review Survey found that:
- 69% search for businesses monthly online
- 86% of shoppers check online reviews
- 55% will visit a local business after reading positive reviews
- 40% decide against going if they read negative reviews
- 57% will only visit places that earn an average of 4 stars
People are reading what’s said about you online and are paying attention. You can leverage this by assiduously attending to your internet reputation. Here are five tips that can help you interact with your virtual base, particularly when it comes to online reviews.
#1. Finger on the pulse
To start with, it’s crucial that you keep a finger on what the online community has to say about your dealership. To that effect, designate one person at your dealership to be responsible for monitoring your online presence. They can use tools like Google Alerts or brand hashtags to help them keep track of any time your dealership is mentioned. This way you can quickly find out what’s being said and by whom.
#2. Make reviewing easy
Since reviews are so widely read and relied upon, make it easy for your satisfied customers to review you. You can include a link to review on your website or mention that buyers can review at the end of successful deals.
#3. Claim your identity
Most review sites will allow you to beef up your profile. You can add pictures, videos, and contact information. The more professional you look, the more responsive people will be who come by to check you out before coming by in person. Looking professional on review sites can also go towards countering negative reviews as they make you seem more trustworthy than anonymous complaints.
#4. Address negativity positively
Negative reviews are a fact of life online. However, though it’s almost impossible to avoid them, it is possible to address them.
Because you have someone designated to watch your online mentions, you should be alerted to any reviews quickly. Don’t let a lot of time pass between their posting and your response. For positive reviews, you can write to let them know you appreciate the love. For negative reviews, ask for details, providing contact information so that you can help them fix the problem.
Keep your tone courteous and helpful throughout all interactions, bearing in mind that most things written online are permanent records.
Get Your Facts
When engaging with a negative review, ask around your team to find out what exactly happened. You’ll want to know both sides before answering the complaint. This can also help you better determine how to address the problem.
Apologize and Rectify
In cases where appropriate, publically apologize and rectify the problem. This transparency will signal to others reading reviews that you’re an honest business that is willing to make things right.
#5. Edit with care
There are some companies who prefer to delete all negative reviews. The problem with this is twofold:
- It makes your review page look unnatural
- You lose out on the benefit of customers seeing how well you handle user complaints.
That said, not every review is appropriate. Though there are often filters that prevent such things, consider removing or asking a host site to remove any reviews containing foul language or inappropriate material. Many customers will discount such reviews on their own, but you don’t want those sentiments in mind while they’re exploring your information.