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