One of the most common question I’m asked by Car Dealers today is, “How do we handle negative online reviews”?
While I’ve spent plenty of time trying to come up with an answer that would fit nicely into an FAQ on my blog, the fact is, this is not a difficult question. (Although much has been written on the topic that could lead one to believe otherwise).
Why has the subject of bad online reviews become such a big deal for Car Dealers this past year?
1) Google Places Pages have practically eliminated the need for anyone to look elsewhere for phone numbers, addresses, or directions to local businesses. Places Page listings have therefore become the first point of contact, (or first impression), for many prospects searching a Dealership’s name.
2) Google will often display a portion of a review on search results, directly under the business name. As people become aware of this powerful new feature, more will use it.
3) Mobile devices have made reviewing a local business on Google as easy as sending a text message. Again, as more people realize this, more will use it.
4) Online “Reputation Management” companies are popping up everywhere offering to help Car Dealers protect their online image by “managing” their reviews for them. While a very small minority of these companies do in fact provide a valid service, most are nothing more than opportunistic “Spammers” pitching any dealer who will listen on why they need to take action right now, “before it’s too late”! (Based on the amount of inquiries we’ve been receiving, most dealerships have already been pitched at least once by such a company via email or otherwise). Those who hire such companies will come to regret that decision.
How Can Car Dealers “Handle” Bad Google Reviews?
When preparing to write this post I recalled a TV commercial Lee Iacocca made while running Chrysler nearly three decades ago. For those readers not old enough to remember, I “Googled it “ and found the vintage video. [Lee Iacocca 1984 Chrysler TV Commercial]
In the commercial Iacocca dealt head-on with the issues Chrysler was having at the time by looking straight into the camera and delivering his message directly to his customers and prospects. It was a simple strategy that worked. (In the late 70’s and early 80’s many North Americans thought the Japanese built a better product than did “the big three” in Detriot. Iacocca challenged that belief).
I wonder what Lee Iacocca would do if he were running a Chrysler dealership today? How might he mitigate any potential damage caused by negative online reviews?
What Would Iacocca Do?
Perhaps he would take an approach similar to that of Edmonton Dodge Dealer Scott Held who posted a video on his website and blog titled “Sometimes we screw up”
The fact is, Google online reviews have given everyone the ability to post an opinion about their Car Dealer directly to the Places Page Map Listing for all the world to see. This is the new reality.
Having a proactive strategy in place that promptly engages and resolves, (or at least addresses), online reviews is not only good policy, people have come to expect it.