Okay, so you are not literally naked. I am referring to the current state of any business or organization in today’s very transparent environment. There are no more secrets.  Remember WikiLeaks; very classified documents and conversations made public for the world to see.  Again, this was top secret stuff and it got out there.

We used to hear the slogan, “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas,” but now we know anything happening there will be on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook within minutes…if not seconds.  If you don’t believe it, just ask Prince Harry!

As an auto retailer, you need to be very aware of how your business is perceived online.  That covers a broad spectrum of items from posts on social media sites, customer reviews, and tweets mentioning your name, to videos on various video content networks like YouTube.

Impact GroupWe have all read the articles about customers who choose not to purchase vehicles from a dealership because of something seen on an employee’s Facebook page that the prospect thought was indecent behavior.  The dealer knew nothing of this until the potential customer brought it to his attention and said she was buying the vehicle from the dealer across town.  Unfortunately, the large majority of dealers will never discover why a prospect purchased elsewhere.

Whether we like it or not everything is more transparent in the business world today. Again, there are no secrets, and we are naked for the world to see.  So, let me ask the question, “If you have to be publicly exposed, wouldn’t you at the very least want to look your BEST?”

I strongly suggest to all my dealer clients they start making concerted efforts to improve their online appearance and to develop a culture in their dealerships that encourages every employee to “look better” too.

Starting To Work Out

Don’t worry, this doesn’t involve actual calisthenics. But, if you want to do a few dozen crunches that is okay with me!  It involves taking a top down, eagle eye look at your organization to identify the weak links and potential trouble spots that might need some remedial attention.  Identify sales or service employees that might be struggling with customer satisfaction issues. Stress to them the importance and significance that every customer transaction and touch point is an incredible and often lost opportunity for them to build and strengthen their customer relationships.

If you have received negative reviews online, print them out and share them with team members in your dealership.  Mind you, not for the purpose of putting blame on someone, but for the purpose of using them as a teaching moment.  Discussing the issue is the proactive approach for you to take.

For your staff members, who are doing a great job of taking care of your customers, please be vocal in your praise of them.  This recognition often creates easily understood word pictures for others to duplicate over and over again.

Customer reviews are taking on more importance than ever.  According to a recent Digital Air Strike Report, 68% of consumers surveyed said dealership reviews helped them in their vehicle purchase decision.  What is your current strategy to gather reviews?

In the landscape of dealership reviews, it’s still the “Wild Wild West” before the days of Wyatt Earp and other lawmen brought some stability to the frontier.   I’ve researched just about every solution out there and here, at a high level, are my summaries of the options available.

  • The homegrown solution where a dealer collects the reviews and posts the good ones on their website.
  • The third party review source that provides a process and/or platform where dealers can take reviews and again select which ones they want to appear.
  • The independent vendor that automates the invitation process so all customers (both sales and service) can complete a review while in the comfort of their home. All comments are then posted to the review site and available to post on the dealer website as well.

I will say with certainty that having some solution is better than having nothing at all on your website.  Now let’s look at the options.  A dealer’s first instinct is to have nothing negative anywhere about their dealership, but remember we are “naked.” Customers will find the truth on the Internet.  Hear this loud and clear;  if prospects  find contradictory information about you elsewhere vs. what you are telling them,  you lose credibility and the trust factor has gone out the door.

If you visited a website for a particular dealer and saw that all of the 200 plus reviews were positive, would you believe anything you saw on that dealer’s site? The reality in auto retailing is that most of your customers leave satisfied and if you make it simple for them to post a comment or review they will.  Don’t be afraid to have a few negative posts as the overwhelming majority of your customer’s comments will be positive.

Check out all the vendors, their solutions, and see what makes sense for you and your dealership.