Velocity Dealers: Find the Good in Bad Dealership Reviews


By Dale Pollak

One of the up-and-coming “_blank”>veloc­ity deal­ers I’ve admired is Andrew DiFeo, Hyundai of St. Augus­tine, Florida.

I’m not the only one who con­sid­ers DiFeo a bright bulb among deal­ers, as evi­denced by a Q & A piece DiFeo did for Auto­mo­tive News. The piece dis­cusses his approach to cus­tomer and online rep­u­ta­tion management.

“We never want our cus­tomers to review us in the deal­er­ship. It’s just my per­sonal phi­los­o­phy. If I was in a place of busi­ness, I’d feel uncom­fort­able if some­one was stand­ing over my shoul­der say­ing, “Hey, please write a review about us.” We find that the reviews are much more gen­uine if the cus­tomer can go home and think about their expe­ri­ence. We send an e-mail out with a link that directs them to our review page on, and that really helped us increase our take rate with reviews.

We typ­i­cally get 15 to 20 per­cent of our new– and used-car cus­tomers writ­ing reviews.”

“As far as get­ting defen­sive about [neg­a­tive reviews], you have to look at your­self in the mir­ror. It’s the peo­ple that can look at them­selves in the mir­ror and be hon­est and make changes who are the most suc­cess­ful in life. That’s the way we look at online rep­u­ta­tion. Does it sting when you get a neg­a­tive review? Of course, espe­cially for the first few. Then you real­ize that this is real­ity and that you’re not going to sat­isfy 100 per­cent of peo­ple 100 per­cent of the time. “

I’ll save more of DiFeo’s insights for your own review, but his prag­matic take on the pos­i­tive aspects of neg­a­tive deal­er­ship reviews war­rants repeat­ing here:

“We need bad reviews. It’s an odd thing, but it adds cred­i­bil­ity. We have more than 1,100 reviews on, and maybe 11 or 12 are neg­a­tive. If they were all pos­i­tive, peo­ple prob­a­bly wouldn’t believe them.

We also look at neg­a­tive reviews as a pos­i­tive. If we have a process in place for some­thing, it’s not going to be fol­lowed 100 per­cent of the time. Reviews and cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion sur­veys from the man­u­fac­turer can help diag­nose the prob­lem and help us fix it. As a man­ag­ing part­ner of the busi­ness, I feel like it’s impor­tant to have some­one with own­er­ship in the busi­ness han­dle the reviews, espe­cially the neg­a­tive ones, right away.

A lot of times we look at it as a train­ing tool to find out what cus­tomers like about our busi­ness — and make sure we keep doing that — and don’t like about our busi­ness to make sure we don’t do that in the future. We also look at other deal­ers’ reviews because you see what cus­tomers like about their expe­ri­ences else­where and what they don’t like.”

DiFeo’s per­spec­tive reminds me of the still-relevant lyrics Johnny Mer­cer wrote in the tune, “Accen­tu­ate the Pos­i­tive,” nearly 70 years ago:

  • You’ve got to accen­tu­ate the positive
  • Elim­i­nate the negative
  • And latch onto the affirmative
  • Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.

Dale Pol­lak, founder of vAuto, Inc, can be reached at or visit him on his blog at Dale