How to Handle the Implied Threat of a Bad Dealer Review

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By Ryan Leslie

A very good friend sent me a recent arti­cle from the LA Times regard­ing a self-described ser­ial entre­pre­neur by the name of Brad New­man. Accord­ing to the arti­cle, Newman’s lat­est cre­ation is called a Reviewer Card. How does it work? For $100 New­man will sell the Reviewer Card to con­sumers who then rely on the Reviewer Card in your deal­er­ship to put you on warn­ing that by giv­ing them exem­plary ser­vice, mov­ing their RO to the front of the stack to save them time and heck, even cut­ting your prices to save them money is a fair exchange for a good review. Fail­ure to do these things will most cer­tainly get your deal­er­ship a very neg­a­tive review. New­man is care­ful not to say it in those terms, but it is cer­tainly implied.

Not every­body has the gall to be a card-toting mem­ber like New­man, but it is likely that a sim­i­lar cus­tomer often dark­ens the door of your deal­er­ship. What do you do when faced with a Black­mailin’ Brad? How do you han­dle a cus­tomer that makes it very obvi­ous that they are will­ing to use their con­sumer voice in an attempt to “nego­ti­ate” with you?

This isn’t a new phe­nom­e­non — Con­sumers have been threat­en­ing to con­tact the BBB and other con­sumer related out­lets for years when they don’t feel they’ve been treated fairly. It’s just that much more trans­par­ent in this Inter­net era. How you treat your cus­tomers has very much come to the fore­front of your unsold prospect’s research phase in the buy­ing cycle.

• The Brad’s of the World do not change the fact that supe­rior cus­tomer ser­vice should ALWAYS be the focus of your deal­er­ship.
• Treat every cus­tomer as if they too were a card car­ry­ing mem­ber of the “I write reviews” club. They in fact are … even when they don’t buy from you. The savvy dealer needs to rec­og­nize that every point of con­tact, indeed every inter­ac­tion is an oppor­tu­nity to earn a good or bad review.

We sug­gest a sim­ple answer to dif­fuse Black­mailin’ Brad’s attempt to use their con­sumer voice as a “nego­ti­a­tion tool.
• Try some­thing like this: “GREAT! Believe it or not we were going to ask you to review us. We ask every cus­tomer to let us know how we are doing, every time! We want you to be happy with your expe­ri­ence here, we cer­tainly don’t want you to feel like writ­ing a neg­a­tive review is your only option if you aren’t sat­is­fied. What can we do right now to help improve your experience?”

We know that the over­whelm­ing major­ity of your cus­tomers leave your deal­er­ship extremely sat­is­fied with their expe­ri­ence. Per­son­ally invit­ing every con­sumer to share their expe­ri­ence will not only help to insu­late you from the Black­Mailin’ Brads of the world, but also help to build up strong evi­dence of your con­sumer sat­is­fac­tion focus and per­suade your prospec­tive cus­tomers to do busi­ness with your deal­er­ship. To your success!

Ryan Leslie, Direc­tor of Dealer Rep­u­ta­tion Strat­egy at Deal­er­Rater can be reached at ryan@dealerrater.com.

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  • Michal Lusk

    I love the way Deal­er­Rater han­dles neg­a­tive reviews for cer­ti­fied deal­ers. DealerRater’s poli­cies encour­age deal­ers to reach out to cus­tomers after a neg­a­tive review, find out what hap­pened, and if pos­si­ble rec­tify it, before the review goes pub­lic. I espe­cially appre­ci­ated reviews that started off neg­a­tive, but were updated and changed to pos­i­tive by the reviewer after we reached out to them.