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Online reviews can’t be ignored – tips to get more (and better) reviews for F&I

Try these simple steps with every customer to help increase the amount and impact of your Google and other online reviews.

We all rely on ‘social proof’ to help us know where to spend our hard-earned dollars. Name one business or product you have considered in the past few months and think about how many online reviews you looked at.

Before trying that new restaurant or that new oil change place down the street. We all do it.

Your dealership and more specifically, your F&I department, should have this as a focus when looking to increase positive online reviews. Yes…F&I will be reviewed, too.

Dealerships, unfairly or not, have not always enjoyed the best reputation in their communities. Over the decades, customers have found more to complain about than to compliment.

Until the last decade or so, the complaints were spread via word-of-mouth or the occasional local newspaper article. There was no place to shout to the masses and like it or not, tools like Google reviews have become that virtual rooftop to shout from.

Speaking of Google, Does It Really Matter That Much?

Yes…dealerships that ignore the power of online reviews do so at their own peril. Google reviews specifically represent 73% of online business reviews according to a 2022 study. It doesn’t matter if your store is an OE franchise or small, independent used car dealership…Google reviews can, in many ways, make or break your traffic and reputation.

And it’s no different in F&I and how customers will weigh in on their experience in your department. Good reviews for the step in the car buying process people tend to hate the most can go a long way to helping more buyers feel comfortable coming into your store.

What Can Your Dealership Do to Increase Positive Reviews for F&I?

The simple and most obvious answer is consistently offering your customers a top-notch buying experience and a quality F&I experience. Do things differently than most customers expect when they walk into the office to finish the transaction. Bust the stereotypes.

But it goes beyond that.

Try these simple steps with every customer to help increase the amount and impact of your Google and other online reviews…

  • Walk them through the steps – Most customers may say they know how to do it and perhaps they do but it doesn’t hurt to walk through it while they are in F&I before they leave. Since 9 out of 10 people have a Gmail, this should be easy.
  • Tell them to name exceptional staff – If your staff has delivered a great buying and experience, ask your customers to name those staff members. Seeing a Salesperson or F&I Manager’s name in lights helps increase trust and helps to put a ‘face’ on your dealership. And imagine how your staff would feel seeing their name attached to a 5-star review.
  • Don’t let negative reviews sit too long – A study showed that 53% of reviewers expected a response to a negative review within a week. Many fall short of that or, worse still, never respond at all. Don’t let those opportunities go by without addressing a negative comment. They are not going to be pleasant to address and could be an unfair or inaccurate comment, but it should never be ignored.

If other car shoppers see your staff is responding and offering to make it right in some way, it bolsters the trust your local community has in your dealership. You may never be able to truly ‘fix’ a specific issue but if you show that you care enough to acknowledge the concern, it goes a long way.

Most online reviews of dealerships will typically focus on sales and the service lane but there’s no reason why dealerships should not also be doing everything they can to make sure F&I shines in reviews as well.

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Kristine Cain
Kristine Cain
Kristine Cain is a contributing writer for CBT News. She has over 26 years of experience in the automotive industry specializing in F&I and B2B sales.

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