Employee Reviews: A Vital Part of Auto Dealer Online Reputation Management

by Ryan Leslie

A fact that does not get enough atten­tion is that the rep­u­ta­tion of your employ­ees is every bit as impor­tant as the rep­u­ta­tion of the deal­er­ship. It is com­mon knowl­edge that all things being equal, peo­ple buy from peo­ple that they like and trust. Along with your web pres­ence and mar­ket­ing mate­ri­als, your employ­ees can dra­mat­i­cal­ly impact your brand mes­sag­ing. Your sales peo­ple, for exam­ple, are your rep­re­sen­ta­tives and have a huge impact on the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence.

Some third-par­ty review sites (like Deal­er­Rater, for exam­ple) offer employ­ee-spe­cif­ic review pages where deal­er sales staff can tru­ly set them­selves apart from oth­er sales pro­fes­sion­als that a con­sumer may be con­sid­er­ing. For a deal­er­ship to be tru­ly com­pet­i­tive in the research phase of the buy­ing cycle and improve its lead-to-appoint­ment ratio, the salesperson’s online greet­ing needs to be as pol­ished as their lot greet­ing. Sad­ly, few auto­mo­tive sales pro­fes­sion­als are lever­ag­ing high­ly trust­ed third-par­ty review con­tent to estab­lish a trust bridge ear­ly in the sales cycle when it mat­ters most.

The fact is, if you are wait­ing for your unsold prospects to stum­ble upon your reviews on Google, you are los­ing cus­tomers to oth­er deal­er­ship sales pro­fes­sion­als that are lever­ag­ing their per­son­al online rep­u­ta­tion. Con­sumers do a sur­pris­ing amount of research before mak­ing a vehi­cle pur­chase. They research the vehi­cle they are inter­est­ed in, they research the deal­er they are inter­est­ed in pur­chas­ing from, and increas­ing­ly they also now research the sales team mem­ber that they want to work with before com­ing to the deal­er­ship.

I was recent­ly priv­i­leged to talk about this sub­ject at length with Ben Web­ster, Sales Man­ag­er at Jeff Wyler Spring­field Auto Mall, part of the high­ly suc­cess­ful mul­ti­ple Deal­er of the Year win­ning group in OH.

I know that some­times hear­ing about a suc­cess­ful strat­e­gy from a deal­er that is imple­ment­ing it on a dai­ly basis can be a ter­rif­ic asset. Ben has been gra­cious enough to allow me to share the infor­ma­tion from the inter­view as fol­lows. Here is Ben Web­ster, in his own words:

 1.     How do your sales team mem­bers use and lever­age their reviews?

Sev­er­al of our sales­peo­ple actu­al­ly encour­age prospects to view their Deal­er­Rater Reviews.  They use this as a way to be trans­par­ent to future clients, invit­ing them to see what oth­er cus­tomers have said about their deal­ings with our deal­er­ship.  I have one sales­per­son in par­tic­u­lar who encour­ages prospec­tive clients to “Google” his name to see what oth­ers have said about him.

2.     Have you any par­tic­u­lar suc­cess sto­ries that you’d be will­ing to share?

Our review process is such a con­stant suc­cess that it’s hard to pin­point just one suc­cess sto­ry!  Recent­ly one of my Inter­net sales peo­ple received a lead, sent the cus­tomer a price quote, and lat­er that day the cus­tomer was in the store sit­ting with that sales­per­son.  The cus­tomer stat­ed that upon receiv­ing his quote, he checked out the sales­per­son online and read sev­er­al online reviews.  What had impressed the cus­tomer the most was the amount of pos­i­tive reviews he read in regards to the sales­per­son.  He stat­ed that after read­ing the reviews, he had decid­ed that this is the deal­er­ship he was going to buy from, and that was the sales­per­son who was going to get his busi­ness.

3.     Have any cus­tomers expressed that your reviews are the rea­son they came to you as opposed to a com­peti­tor?

Absolute­ly!  As a deal­er­ship we work hard to pro­mote our vir­tu­al deal­er­ship, and were one of the first in our region to ask cus­tomers to post a review of our deal­er­ship and their expe­ri­ences on Deal­er­Rater.  We haven’t just asked for reviews from cus­tomers who pur­chased a car, but also from those who ser­vice their car here.  Grant­ed, not every review has been pos­i­tive, but they have offered us an oppor­tu­ni­ty to address and resolve issues with cus­tomers that we oth­er­wise would not have been aware of.  As a result, we have gained busi­ness from our com­peti­tors and have increased our mar­ket share in some com­pet­ing areas.  It’s no secret that cus­tomers have access to a lot of infor­ma­tion, and we have cho­sen the route of trans­paren­cy in help­ing our cus­tomers to obtain that infor­ma­tion.  This has been one of the biggest rea­sons for the increase we have seen in our online busi­ness, and why cus­tomers choose us over our com­peti­tors.

4.  If you could offer advice to a sales­per­son that isn’t yet using reviews to win appoint­ments or sales what would you tell them?

Cus­tomers want to work with some­one that they know.  It doesn’t mat­ter if you are sell­ing cars, hous­es, or wash­ing machines.  Hav­ing an online rep­u­ta­tion is extreme­ly impor­tant, and future clients want a con­nec­tion.  Don’t be afraid to throw your­self out there and encour­age folks to read reviews about you.  By read­ing a lit­tle about you, they will most like­ly feel a “con­nec­tion” to you and be more will­ing to come in to the deal­er­ship and work with you.

 

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