It’s a popular adage, and one we’ve certainly used before – but people really do buy from people. However, there are many layers to that simple phrase. Whereas it can sometimes be interpreted as meaning people prefer to buy in person, it goes a little deeper than that. At its base level, it means that in order to sell to someone, you need to have developed a relationship with them – they need to get to know you. In order to do that, and for them to feel comfortable in entering that relationship with you – they need to trust you. And as we all know, trust is all about reputation. So, in this article, we’ll be looking at how you can improve dealership reputation, both on and offline, and in person or otherwise.
Let’s face it, reputation is important because it often precedes us. Word of mouth and recommendations go a long way. And of course, bad news travels faster than good. If you make a mistake, fail to meet a customer’s expectations, or worse, rip someone off – you can guarantee they’ll tell people about it via every channel available to them. On the other hand, deliver impeccable customer service and deals they can’t ignore…and the vast majority of your customers will think you’re just meeting your remit. However, your good work doesn’t need to go unnoticed. Here are a few simple steps you can take to improve dealership reputation, including how to encourage your customers to sing your praises from the rooftops.
Be seen (and contactable) in all the right places
95%* of car buyers use digital channels as their main source of information when researching their potential purchase. So, it should go without saying that a huge part of improving your dealership reputation should take place online. Being able to gain additional exposure and appealing to more potential digital customers is a huge factor. And a significant way of increasing your dealership’s online footprint is to claim your listings.
A good place to start is with the big four platforms: Facebook, Google, Yelp, and Trip Advisor. These are the most popular consumer sites by far, and that’s before we’ve gotten to the automotive specific platforms. These include Car Gurus, Cars.com, DealerRater, and MyCarFax.
The most important aspect of claiming your listings is ensuring that all of your information displayed on each listing is correct and up to date. Not only does this improve your search ratings, but it also increases the likelihood of conversion. If a potential customer finds out-of-date or wrong contact information on a listing, they’re not going to waste more time trying to track you down or find the right details. There are plenty more fish in the sea, and certainly more cars on your competitor’s lots.
Be more responsive
You probably know the importance of having a responsive website – one that can be viewed on different screen sizes with ease. But you also need to be responsive in person too. One of the most important aspects of managing your dealer reputation is harvesting reviews. And one of the best ways you can encourage more customers to leave one, is to show that you respond to reviews.
Reviews are seriously important. 65%† of buyers said they were directly influenced by a car dealer’s reviews. That makes automotive retail the third most influential industry for reviews. And it means that your potential customers are actively seeking out what others have to say about you. This is definitely one area where the SnapCell app can assist you. With SnapCell, you can use the intuitive self-editing tools and stop-start recording to create a review video with a happy customer in just a few moments. From there, it can be on your website or social media platforms in just a few clicks.
However, it’s negative reviews that require your response most. As we said earlier, not only does bad news travel fast, but it also has more influence. 94%† of car buyers said negative reviews were enough to convince them to avoid a dealer and shop elsewhere.
Positive reviews are of course, great, and responding to them is a mark of appreciation and builds your relationship further. But how you address your negative reviews is where the potential to encourage more customers to walk through your door lies. An empathetic, well-written response that acknowledges the issues a customer is facing will not only address concerns, but also establish you as a professional, courteous brand – which is vital for reputation management. And most importantly, responding to a negative review effectively can influence up to 45%† of your potential customers to change their mind and visit your business.
The important thing to recognize is that your customers are writing reviews because they want to be heard. This is your opportunity to step up to the plate and show your customers that you really care about them. Approximately 63%† of reviews do not get responded to. That’s a huge proportion of customers going unnoticed. Also, remember that your customers took time out of a busy schedule to write their review – so make sure you respond quickly and appreciatively.
Be transparent and on display
It makes sense that in order for your reputation to precede you, it needs to be made known. Your website is the digital shop window for your business, with the entire world able to take a peek at what’s on offer.
Creating a testimonial page or including a reviews widget enables you to share real feedback from genuine customers. In fact, research from Northwestern University has shown that just having a dedicated reviews section on your website can increase the chance of conversion by 270%. At the same time, enabling your customers to leave feedback directly on your website means these interactions will count as first-party reviews – which will make your website stand out and place higher in search engine rankings.
Compelling content is also an important aspect of growing your reputation. By making yourself a go-to for relevant industry information and advice, you are automatically building trust into your brand offering and improving dealership reputation. A dedicated blog page featuring topics like car buying advice, maintenance tips, or quick fixes will show you are interested in not just getting customers, but helping them too.
With SnapCell, you can create engaging content quickly and easily. Video is by far the best medium to convey this kind of information. You’ve probably heard the phrase “show, don’t tell”, and nothing could be more important when it comes to detailed, technical information like maintenance tips. It’s also incredibly popular content. Got a new model arriving? Why not put together an unboxing video! The intuitive controls of the SnapCell app enable you to make stunning videos with just a few clicks. Over 40%* of car buyers who watched a dealer video about trucks and cars they were interested in, visited the dealership afterwards.
By including this kind of content, you establish yourself not just as a car dealer, but a thought leader of the industry. We shouldn’t need to tell you what that’s worth to your reputation – but if we do, it’s a lot!
Be proactive in asking for reviews
Optimizing your website and digital channels goes a long way to delivering an amazing customer experience – and this too is a fundamental aspect of securing a strong reputation for customer service. Your customers expect a seamless buying journey with you, whether they are engaging with your business online, calling your service department, or walking through the showroom doors. Not only does the customer experience and service you deliver need to be consistent, it also needs to be consistently good. You need to have the right attitude – one that looks to understand the needs and expectations of your customers and then exceed them. Why is that important? According to a survey by American Express, on average, happy customers will tell nine other people about their experience.
You also need to strike when the iron is hot. If you know a customer has had a great experience and can’t be happier – ask them for a review. Whilst an unhappy customer probably can’t wait to share an opinion, as we said at the beginning, those who are pleased as punch might need some encouragement.
There are key times to request reviews too. Almost all reviews are left during business hours, between Tuesday and Thursday. Monday is far too droll to think about writing a review, and hopefully by Friday, there are other things to look forward to. Send out requests for reviews on these days, between the hours of 10am and 4pm, and you should see more engagement.
Be equipped to make the most of things
SnapCell offers a host of inbuilt tools that can help make reputation management easier. It’s much more than a self-editing app for mobile and desktop. It also includes oversight and reporting, enabling you to track the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) most important to you.
Our Reputation Buddy feature helps you supercharge your online reputation. You can use SnapCell to create targeted “thank you” videos to harvest more reviews, with a direct link to your testimonial pages.
* Think with Google, 2017
† Review Trackers, 2018