How to Get Better Google Reviews for Your Dealership & Why It Matters
Name one business that doesn’t rely on good online reviews to help them get more customers. Chances are you can’t. Think about the last time you looked at Google reviews before you tried that new restaurant or made an appointment at the repair shop around the corner. We all rely on ‘social proof’ to help us know where to spend our hard-earned dollars.
Online reviews are critical to the success of just about any business and yes, that includes car dealerships.
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.
Should Dealership Care About Google Reviews?
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.
What are the specific ways that good Google reviews can help your dealership?
- Higher level of trust - 10 happy customers talking about a great experience buying/financing their car helps new shoppers feel they can trust that their experience will be the same.
- Great for SEO - Ok, for you non-marketing folks out there, SEO is search engine optimization and it’s important in helping to push your dealership to the top of Google searches in your market. Lots of positive reviews equates to more web traffic to your dealership website through the included link and that helps your store move to the top of Google for ‘Atlanta used car dealers’ or ‘Kansas City Ford dealers’.
- Profile in Your Market Increases - Good (or even glowing) reviews helps to raise your profile in your local market. This is especially helpful if your store is fairly new. No better way to get your name out there.
- Feedback is Gold - Reading the comments from your customers gives you a window into exactly what is working and what isn’t. Most will be comfortable being honest and detailed both in what they liked and what they disliked about buying from you. Sales, F&I, Service….doesn’t matter. Every touchpoint along the buyer’s journey with your staff is important and these reviews will let you know what needs to be fixed. Dealership growth starts here.
What Can Your Dealership Do to Increase Positive Reviews?
The simple and most obvious answer is consistently offer your customers a top-notch buying experience at every stop along the way. Fair price, quality F&I experience, and responsive Service/Parts interaction.
But it goes beyond that.
Try these simple steps with every customer to help increase the amount and impact of your Google reviews…
- Show Them How to Leave a Review - 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.
- Encourage Them to Name Names - 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…
- Respond to Negative Reviews FAST - 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 but they should not 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.
F&I managers have one of the hardest, if not THE hardest, job in today’s dealership. Ask anyone who has ever been in ‘the box’ what the one word is that can describe their job and they will likely say ‘pressure.
Your buyer's identity can be stolen from mishandling of documents during the course of a deal. Dealerships can also fall victim to one of the most common forms of fraud, fake identification scams.