What Impact Do 3rd Party Dealer Reviews Have on Dealerships?

The Situation:

Reputation Management is a booming industry – and now we can add AutoTrader.com to the growing list of automotive solutions providers who are including dealer reviews on their websites. Is this a good thing, or not so good?

AutoTrader’s President, Sandy Schwartz said details of how the site will rate dealerships are still being worked out. He also said AutoTrader will likely blend ratings from multiple review sites to arrive at an aggregate star rating.

“I feel we should be agnostic and have an open architecture where a number of ratings are used. I don’t think we should be tied to just one,” Schwartz said.

Andrew DiFeo, Hyundai of St. Augustine, FL, says: “We need bad reviews. It’s an odd thing, but it adds credibility.We also look at negative reviews as a positive. Reviews and customer satisfaction surveys from the manufacturer can help diagnose the problem and help us fix it.

Key Issues for Dealers to Keep in Mind:

  • Recent research shows that Internet reviews can play a role in store selection by car buyers.
  • The addition of customer reviews is not surprising – AutoTrader.com joins Cars.com, Cobalt, DealerRater and Dominion Solutions have already added dealer reviews to their websites.
  • The fact that Cars.com paved the way will likely make online reviews a standard on third party classified websites.
  • With any new review platform comes the potential for negative reviews to be posted, which is considered part of normal business operations.
  • Dealers should not fear that they will get a negative review on Autotrader.com. Rather, the opportunity for dealers is how they respond to negative reviews, which often can turn into a win for the dealer.

Actionables for Dealer Managers to Take Today:

  • Take a quick test to see the visibility of review platforms, just search your dealership name and add the word “reviews” to the search.
  • It’s not just reviews (negative or positive) that count – it’s how you respond.
  • As the market for dealer reviews gains in size and popularity, it might pay for your dealership to hire a troubleshooter to handle negative reviews.
  • When your dealership proactively reaches out to a dissatisfied customer review, you can potentially gain a customer.

There are a number of studies that document the impact of reviews on consumer choice and one recent study by Volkswagen in included in the original article. Also more good reading from Dale Pollak who talks about the pros and cons of dealer reviews, and the Cobalt blog with advice on proactive measures in regard to Reputation Management.





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