Strategically manage your online dealership reputation

By Jim Jabaay

Customers are conducting online research prior to making a purchase and it plays such an important role in the customer journey. According to Vendasta, who’s core purpose is to help drive local economies, “85% of customers use the internet to research before marking a purchase.”

Once a customer finds your dealership online, their next thought may be, “can I trust them?”, which is why your dealership needs a well-managed and positive online reputation to prevent your customers from choosing one of your competitors. Word of mouth is important as well; however, there is more weight given to what customers say online about your dealership vs. what a dealership self-promotes. Online reviews provide insight into how your dealership interacts during the sales process, the level of professionalism and overall customer satisfaction. Purchasing decisions are made based off of this information and customers are searching for it online.

Your dealership needs a strategy to receive and respond to positive and negative online reviews. Reviews should be easy for the customer to leave. A best practice would be to ask for them both in person and online.

How to respond to positive reviews

  • Make sure you thank them
  • Use the name of your dealership in the response so you show up in search results
  • Ask the customer to try something your dealership offers when they return

How to respond to negative reviews

  • Apologize and acknowledge their concerns/feelings
  • Don’t use the name of your dealership in the response. You don’t want these reviews showing up in search results.
  • Shift the conversation offline in order to resolve their concerns
  • Keep your response simple

How to remove a negative review

  • Resolve the issue with the customer (it is advisable to do so by contacting the customer offline)
  • Ask them to kindly remove the review or update after the resolution
  • Obtain more positive reviews to bury the negative ones

How to get positive reviews

  • Ask for reviews from happy customers
  • Ask in person
  • Ask online
  • Use an automated system that will help solicit reviews from customers based on data from your CRM
  • Be careful about incentivizing reviews as they should be true, unbiased reviews, not something the customer was rewarded for doing

Reviews and Facebook ads

Facebook has also begun testing the inclusion of star ratings on advertisements in its News Feed. If you are an advertiser, you may have received the following message from Facebook:

“We are pleased to announce that your page has been chosen to participate in an upcoming beta test for business ratings in ads. We are testing to determine if showing business ratings increases conversions from ads.

From April 24 to June 24, 2017, star ratings from TEST reviews and ratings section will appear below your business’s name in a small percentage of your ads appearing in Newsfeed. Star ratings will only appear when the average star rating is 4 stars or higher and when there are at least 5 reviews.”

Facebook’s beta test is an indication of how important online reviews are and those that have a high star rating will most likely have better ad performance.

Online reputation management is key to a successful business and it’s important that your dealership has a strategy in place not only respond to reviews, but to regularly obtain new and positive ones.

If your dealership is interested in learning more about online reputation management or Facebook advertising, contact LotVantage at

Jim Jabaay is the vice president of Sales and Marketing for LotVantage, a leader in digital marketing for automotive, powersports, marine and RV dealerships.  Jim has grown up in the automotive industry with the family dealership in the suburbs of Chicago. Jim started at Manheim in sales and continued to grow his career running sales teams throughout Texas for nine years.  Following Manheim, Jim spent two years at Dealertrack expanding his career in the software side of the business.  LotVantage utilizes data to help dealerships understand which inventory to post and when to post it for a local, national and social presence.  Jim’s number one goal is helping dealers succeed in an ever growing and changing dealership world.


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