Outrank Your Rivals – Good reviews can crush the competition.

Are you ready to take the next step in sweeping your rivals under the digital rug? If you’ve taken the steps to identify your competition by charting their performance in online review portals, you’ve got a good start! Take a look at how that hierarchy is shaping up – where does your dealership rank? Take into account how each portal is unique, and how they can be used to help market your store. As you document the situation, you’ll get a picture of where you should be focusing your review efforts.

Now, all you need is a plan. Your two most valuable tools are your staff and technology. For example, how can your staff help you get better online reviews? What technology needs to be in place to achieve those reviews? Gather your team, review your competitive review chart and ask them – who can they “ask” to give your store a positive online review, say, with Google? That should get the ball rolling, and by the end of the week, you’ll have a few good reviews mentioning the staff that were proactive in “making the ask.”

It’s important to email all dealership staff to know that a certain Customer X sent in a positive review for Employee Y, and congratulate them on that accomplishment. Consider providing an incentive – mention that the employee who earns the most positive online reviews next month will be recognized and given a reward for their contributions. Just remember to be consistent with the meetings, review emails to all staff, and the reward.

Water cooler talk

You can be sure that at this point, there’s been talk around the water cooler about this new initiative, with discussion about which customers might provide a glowing review. By the next review meeting, be prepared with tools to help the momentum continue, along with reviews that you’ve acquired by asking past VIP family and friends.

Now, create a landing page where customers can easily submit reviews, and where staff can easily direct customers too. Win Win!! Purchase www.yourdealership.reviews, and redirect it to a landing page that explains the importance of reviews, together with an easy click to submit a review. By helping to capture positive reviews and showcasing them on a website, you’re demonstrating your commitment to the goal, and leading by example.

With a few successes under your belt, together with tools that will help staff acquire reviews more easily, you’re ready for your follow-up review meeting! Make sure you explain how the website works, how to submit a review, and then rally the troops with why good online reviews are important for crushing the competition and ratcheting up profits.

A quick Internet search can help you find many apps and widgets that can help you accumulate more good reviews. If you subscribe to any of the automotive review portals, inquire about their technology and integrate them within your process. Sometimes, a dedicated device might be needed, as well as instructions on how to use it. That might be a topic for a future online review meeting with a live tutorial.

Generic email template

By now, you should be able to develop a generic email template asking for customer feedback, which explains how much you value their input, how it can help your future customers, and why it is important to the entire organisation. When you make your personal request for a review, be sure to include a hyperlink to www.yourdealership.reviews to make it as easy as possible. Then, share this template with your staff, so they can all use it when they’re asking their customers to submit a review.

Do you host Car Clinics or second deliveries at your store? These VIP customers are excited to have just purchased their vehicles, and want to learn more. Why not ask them to submit a review about their experience?

Service team

Let’s not forget service and how many RO’s are processed each month. Be sure to talk to your service team and implement the same practices with incentives, email templates, etc. Why not create that atmosphere to help your advisors accumulate reviews and show them how these reviews can be used to help increase their sales or by driving new service traffic?

Although some may have qualms about this strategy, you may want to consider building review targets within your staff’s pay plan. It can become necessary to “make the ask,” and have that reflected within their daily duties.

All of these ideas may seem like a lot, but most are in practice and have helped in all of the stores that we at Dealer InLine assist with. Remember to help start the momentum by leading by example, by going out there and “making the ask,” and then responding to those positive reviews.

Hold scheduled review meetings with a clear structure, with well defined expectations; take minutes of those meetings and have them sent to staff. Use the tools that are accessible to you, discuss this topic with your IT team and account reps from those third party review portals.

Finally, make it fun and rewarding to all that are involved! This is what keeps the momentum going, not just for the initial period but going forward indefinitely. Online reviews are influencing your customers and you can either take advantage of this advertising source, or let your competitors pull those customers right out from you.

Article originally published in Canadian AutoJournal, July 2016.

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