By Ryan Leslie
According to J.D. Power; 88% of all in-market consumers conduct research on the Internet before walking into a dealership and a 2011 Cone Study found that 89% of car buyers go online to verify recommendations before purchasing a vehicle. With almost 90% of potential car buyers checking out online car dealership reviews, online reputation management should now be an integral part of any marketing plan – give these online shoppers a reason to choose you!
You’ll Need a Proof Manual
Sometimes referred to as an evidence manual, takes a little bit of energy to prepare. But, it pays big dividends in building credibility and closing more sales. Your sales strategy needs to include one.
Some dealerships used it at one point, but no longer. If you are using one, well done; they are a great way for sales people to separate themselves from the competition. And these manuals should be built both on and offline; for use when the customer is first researching the dealership and also to help build rapport during the sales process in the dealership.
Print off your online reviews and place them in an evidence manual for your prospects to read at this time. This can be a powerful sales tool.
Recent Case Studies Prove the Point
Jim McGinn, Client Advisor at Germain BMW of Naples, FL, had the following to say; “When I first started in the business, before we got much involved with online reviews, people would see my evidence manual on my desk and pick it up and go through it. But I found that I didn’t update it as frequently as I should – there were maybe some letters that I got from people that were a little bit dated. One of the things I like about online reviews is that it is really very timely.”
McGinn also has his customers go online and Google his name and dealership: “Jim McGinn Germain BMW”. The first URL to come up is Jim’s profile on DealerRater. “Do your best to leverage as many ways of getting out there from an online standpoint. I periodically will Google myself and just see what populates; many of my online reviews populate so having a very positive online presence is really important,” McGinn added.
Another dealership employee, Megan Barto E-Commerce Director at Ciocca Honda feels very strongly about the power of reviews and an online evidence manual:
“Even if the customer is just looking they’ll think: ‘Hey I saw that Sam had 24 reviews; I’d like to deal with him. We’ve actually had that happen. We’ve had a customer come in and say ‘is Sam available? I was shopping for a local car and I saw that he had the most positive reviews. That shows me that he takes care of his customers, I’m not just going to be a number to him.”
Start building your online evidence manual
Third-party online reviews at the employee-level have considerable influence on your prospects. Employee-specific reviews can serve as a powerful tool in persuading customers to visit your store while passing up other local dealers. Remember: Competition + Recognition = More Quality Appointments.