What is a “Good” Reputation?
Possibly the most important thing to remember is that online reputation is relative. At first glance, a 4-star average rating on Google seems pretty good and might cause some dealers to think that they don’t need to worry about reputation management. But that is only one piece of the puzzle and completely ignores other important aspects that consumers consider when deciding on a dealership. A 4-star rating is only “good” as long as it compares favorably to the competition. The same rating doesn’t look so good when compared to a nearby competitor with a 4.5. Similarly, a 4-star rating with only a few reviews carries less weight than that of a competitor with a similar rating and dozens of reviews. When setting goals for your dealership’s reputation management program, it is important to see how your main competitors are doing to accurately determine where you need to be.
What Are the Elements of a Good Reputation?
Average review scores are typically the focus of online reputation initiatives and for a good reason. They are one of the first things potential customers see when reading reviews for a company. With that said, they are but one metric in evaluating your online reputation and are far from the only thing auto dealers should take into consideration.
The elements of a strong online reputation fall into one of three categories: Key Review Platforms, Managing Reviews, and Managing Responses.
Key Review Platforms for Auto Dealers
Key Pages – Every business should be managing their presence on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Auto dealers should also maintain a presence on auto-specific sites like DealerRater, CarGurus, and Cars.com. There are other sites like Edmunds, CarDealerCheck, and KellyBlueBook that also have dealer reviews, but their review volume is typically so low that many dealers will choose to ignore them. That’s generally fine, but if your dealership receives a lot of leads or referrals from these other sites, it would be unwise to neglect them. Not only does having a listing on all of these sites help you cast a wider net to potential customers, but it has additional SEO benefit for your dealership.
Profile Consistency – It is important to have consistency across all review platforms. Make sure details like your dealership’s name, address, and phone number match on all business profiles.
Review Quantity – One thing consumers do when evaluating a business’s reputation is to check the number of reviews they have. This serves as a measure of legitimacy in the belief that larger sample size will provide a more accurate representation of customer experiences.
Review Recency – Another measure of legitimacy among consumers is the recency of reviews. They understand that things change over time, and people in an organization can come and go. For this reason, recent reviews tend to be more trusted than older ones.
Review Quality – As mentioned earlier, average review scores are influential because they are the first thing people see when evaluating a business’s reputation. This makes review scores one of the most critical elements to consider. Another measure of review quality has to do with the comments that accompany the star rating. Do they provide enough detail to be helpful to other prospective customers?
Response Rate – An often overlooked element of your online reputation is responding to reviews, especially negative ones. You would never dream of ignoring a customer offering a compliment or criticism of your dealership in person. Ignoring your customers online is even worse because it is posted publicly for other customers to see. Resolving negative reviews shows that your company is communicative and takes the consumer’s experience into consideration.
Response Time – Responses to reviews are only helpful if they are received promptly. Responding to old reviews won’t do as much good because many potential customers have already seen the review. Responding as soon as possible limits the number of people who see the unresolved review.