How to manage negative dealership reviews

Aug 31, 2021Tips & Tricks

Online Reviews

We all know that receiving reviews, especially those online, can be vital in your car dealership’s marketing strategy. They instill trust from customers, they can boost your brand’s digital visibility, and of course, improve your reputation, keeping you one step ahead of the competition. But what happens if these reviews are negative? In which case, they can have the opposite impact on your business and sometimes, prove detrimental. Honestly, in today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever for people to leave reviews – both good and bad – so the chances are, you’ll probably come across one or two negative comments, however good customer service you think you are providing. And, as tempting as it would be to release your inner keyboard warrior and reply to these reviews with a hot head, there are alternative ways to address them, to salvage any damage and even, turn them into positive reviews.

So, before you click the ‘send’ button, here are 10 tips from the experts at SnapCell, when managing any negative reviews that your dealership might receive.

Decide Who Responds

If you haven’t already, then you need to put a process in place for when a negative review occurs. Oh and, don’t wait for your dealership to receive the review – instead, create a solid, strong plan that you’re confident with, so all of your employees are prepared for when you need to put it into action. You might, of course, want to read the rest of our tips before you create a process, but one of the most important elements to decide is who responds to a negative review.

Who will respond to a negative review will depend on several things, including the size of your dealership and how accessible the business owner is. Ideally, all negative reviews should be responded to by someone at the senior management level, if not the person at the top – particularly if your dealership is local and not a chain. It’s important that somebody in a high position responds – who has the experience, knowledge, and authority – not only to show the reviewer that you value their comments but also, for the benefit of your staff – after all, somebody at a junior level should not be responsible for replying to negative reviews.

Cool Down

OK, so you’ve just discovered you’ve received a negative comment. We get it, it’s tough to read, especially when you’ve poured your heart and soul into your dealership. In fact, negative reviews can be a total demoralizer. But don’t rush to respond, however much you want to.

Despite a review being negative, you need to remember that it is your responsibility to respond with your professional hat on. Ultimately, how you respond to a comment, will demonstrate to current and future customers your business morals and you must recognize this. It’s vital that you cool down before you respond to a review, or else you might end up replying in rage. Let’s put it this way, would you yell at a customer in the middle of your showroom? We’re pretty sure the answer is no, so don’t digitally yell at them either, just because you’re protected by your computer screen. Honestly, it really won’t do you any good.

Don’t Leave It Too Long

OK, so we’ve just told you to cool down and now we’re encouraging you not to leave it too long. Confusing, right? Yes, you should take a step back, grab a coffee and think before you type, but make sure responding to a negative review remains a top priority. As the owner of a car dealership, you will probably have a whole load of items to tick off your daily to-do list but responding to a review needs to be right up there. In fact, aim to respond within 24 to 48 hours if possible. Simply put, the quicker you respond to a negative complaint, the more genuine your reply will seem.

A top tip from us, is to try and get some sort of process put in place, so you can respond to negative reviews efficiently, professionally, and promptly when they occur.


Look, you’re running a business and not everyone is going to be 100 percent happy with your dealership, all the time. However hard it might be and even if you totally disagree with the review, you need to apologize.

It’s important to remember that there are two types of apology here. If it’s clear that your dealership has made a mistake, then a straightforward sorry and solution will be great. However, if the review is more subjective, not necessarily based on hard facts, and something that requires a bit of digging, you could say something like ‘We’re sorry to hear you feel like this’. That way, you’re quickly acknowledging the fact that the customer is unhappy but you’re not accepting responsibility until you’ve further investigated the problem.

Acknowledge The Problem

Again, this might not be the first thing that you want to do but believe us, if you acknowledge the problem the reviewer has, then you’re likely to diffuse the issue early and prevent any further conflict. Showing this sort of empathy will demonstrate to the customer that you understand them by repeating their concerns.

Never Get Defensive

Getting defensive is not the answer. If anything, getting defensive will make the situation explode, and not in a good way. The last thing any negative reviewer wants is to hear your excuses, so even if you don’t agree with what they are saying, you need to remain professional and take the moral high ground.

Show Willingness

Rather than get defensive, try your best to show willingness to help. High up in your response – we would suggest after the apology – you should let the customer know that you are going to investigate their concern.

Provide A Solution

Consider negative reviews to be a way of you practicing your customer service. When responding, either ask the customer how you can make things right, or alternatively, suggest a solution to their problem. Offering some sort of course of action as to how you can fix things will satisfy the customer and hopefully prevent any further conflict.

Furthermore, depending on the type of review, you might want to provide an explanation. Like we’ve mentioned before, no business is totally perfect and mistakes are bound to happen. By explaining why the problem occurred and providing some sort of solution, then it will make your dealership seem more human.

Take Things Offline

It’s no secret that once a review – whether it’s positive and negative – is very much in the public, once it’s online. Yes, when it’s a good one, that’s great but when it’s full of negative comments, you should try and get the conversation offline. After all, do you really want the rest of your current and future customers to be able to see the interaction between your dealership and the customer?

There are several subtle ways that you can ask the customer to take the conversation offline. You might have an official complaint page on your website – if this is the case, politely direct the reviewer there. Alternatively, you could ask the customer to contact you directly, to discuss their comments further. In your response, include the name and title of the person you want the reviewer to contact, along with an email address and/or phone number.

If you don’t get the conversation offline, it could turn messy – and not necessarily because of you. The best thing for you and your dealership’s reputation is to create a strong and professional response, but then taking any further interaction out of the public eye.

Don’t Try And Get The Review Taken Down

Once you’ve accepted the fact that someone has left you a negative review, you’re halfway there. Although some customers might take down their review by choice, once their issue is resolved – this is quite rare and, in most cases, the bad comments are there to stay. Don’t get disheartened by this though. Remember, it’s not the content of the review that other customers will concentrate on, but, the way your dealership responds. That’s why, it’s more important than ever for you to follow our simple steps, to help turn things around and make sure your dealership comes out with its reputation intact.

There’s no denying it, getting a negative review is far from ideal, for any business – and car dealerships are no exception, especially when competition to make sales is so high. Why not try and prevent the negative reviews before they are even written by making sure your customer experience is top quality? You can do this easily by using the SnapCell app. Designed specifically with the automotive industry in mind, the SnapCell app includes features like ‘Reputation Buddy’, which allows your team to seamlessly create thank you videos for customers once they’ve shopped with you. Engaging with customers immediately after they’ve made a purchase, while they’re fresh in your mind, could stop them from posting any negative reviews before they do it.

If you own a car dealership in the automotive industry, then get in touch with the team of experts at SnapCell and find out how using our app can provide the ultimate customer experience and potentially prevent negative reviews.

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