In a quick review of dealership’s websites, I find that many are almost entirely sales focused and tend to neglect the one department that brings the most significant percentage of profit… service. Go ahead. Take a look at a few dealership websites. Service tends to be the red-headed stepchild; often neglected and forgotten. Yet it accounts for 50% or more of a dealership’s revenue.

 

In fact, just 10%, or even less of most dealer websites are dedicated to service, according to an article in Automotive News. Sounds like a bit of an imbalance, doesn’t it?

 

One dealer decided to change that. Feldman Automotive Group increased service-related content on almost all of its websites and, since late 2018, has seen visitor traffic increase by 60%. Perhaps more importantly, customer pay revenue increased by 32% in the first 3 months of 2019!

 

Service-related content is frequently searched for by consumers, yet many dealerships neglect to provide any information at all about this section of their business. In many cases, service coupons and specials are either outdated or non-existent. Keep in mind that any consumers who look at your dealership’s website for service information – and then find none – will simply continue to search and, in many cases, will find that information provided by an independent repair facility such as Jiffy Lube. And they are aggressive, transparent, and current in their pricing and services – which consumers seem to like.

 

In this highly competitive market, it makes sense to produce more service-related content for your website. Be sure to keep your service coupons current, be transparent, and provide information and pricing for your most popular service packages and what they include. Consider having a service director shoot a quick video about why customers should service at your dealership – what the benefits are of getting their vehicle serviced at a franchise dealer versus an independent, for example.

 

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a customer come in for routine maintenance and not just warranty service? If you fail to provide the reasons why a customer should choose you over an independent, the consumer may well choose price and convenience, even if your dealership is competitive.

 

Most dealerships share the reasons why a consumer should buy a car from them. That’s a no-brainer. But too few share why consumers should service their car there as well. In my opinion, the ultimate outcome of neglecting service content and information on your website is just one thing – lost revenue.

 

Hey, it has been proven to work. If Feldman can increase customer pay by 32%; surely it’s worth putting at least a little time and effort into creating that service content. Think about creating blogs (both written and video) with topics such as how to pair your iPhone to the in-vehicle entertainment system, as well as specific services you offer and why they are essential. It is also great to highlight your service personnel, their achievements and training, along with the same message of quality, customer service, professionalism, and convenience that you probably already market in your sales messages.

 

Now, while adding service content to your website is great, taking it one step further is even better. Personally, I recommend specialized service websites as they are a great way to bring more customers into your automotive service and maintenance facility. These sites should be optimized with unique content about all things vehicle maintenance, repair, and service. Let your potential and existing customers know that they can count on you to not only sell them a great vehicle but to keep it in excellent condition. If you drive traffic to your service website, it will also drive more traffic to your main website, meaning you’ll have more people viewing your inventory, so it’s a win-win!

If you up your digital footprint as far as vehicle service is concerned, you should see an increase in service revenue and customer pay ROs. These customers can quickly become loyal brand advocates who you can win over as lifetime customers and also capture future sales from referrals.

 

Make your service department easy to find by providing the type of content consumers are looking for. Become the resource they turn to for information and your efforts could soon result in precisely what your business wants… more profit and more customers.

 

Next Generation Tools Enable Dealers To Contact Customers In Under 6 Seconds, Converting Leads Into Sales
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calf., January 7, 2018 – fusionZONE Automotive, LLC, the automotive industry’s highest-performing dealer website solution, today announced the launch of two lead generation tools, FastRing and FastPrice. These tools enable dealers to instantly generate competitive pricing on a prospective customer’s screen and contact them in under 6 seconds, converting more leads into sales.

 

“Consumers spend more and more time shopping online for a vehicle and expect to get the information they want in real time,” said Brett Sutherlin, FusionZONE Founder. “The days of car dealers withholding prices from potential customers are in the past. When the consumer requests pricing online, they want that information FAST! Unfortunately, many potential customers will leave a dealership website because they had to wait too long, or never received the information at all and went elsewhere,” Sutherlin continued.

 

FastPrice gives customers a “no haggle” price in just two clicks. The customer chooses a vehicle, clicks the “get today’s best price button,” and fills out a simple contact form. Behind the scenes, FastPrice crunches the numbers according to the dealer’s pricing structure, displays the best price instantly on the screen, and sends the dealer the lead.

 

FastPrice can be customized and programmed to give additional options to the information the consumer requested. For example, many dealerships use FastPrice to display new car alternatives or even a Certified or Pre-Owned option in addition to the information and price requested.

 

Dealers using FastPrice see a lift in leads of 100 to 400 percent, which in turn results in more sales. Capital Toyota in Chattanooga, TN, went from averaging 60 leads per month to approximately 432 leads per month, and new and used vehicle sales soared from about 180 a month to over 250.

 

FastPrice and FastRing are highly effective stand-alone products but also work exceptionally well together to make a positive first impression, increase website conversion rates and stop shoppers in their tracks.

 

“We live in a world of fast; fast cars, fast food, faster checkout. Consumers don’t want to wait; they want everything now. In this new car buying era, internet shoppers are no different. You have to grab your customers before they leave your website or a third-party website that features your vehicles, and certainly before they get distracted by another crazy cat video,” said Sutherlin.

 

According to a recent MIT study, the average consumer leaves a website within 30-45 seconds after requesting more information. With FastPrice they get that information immediately. Then, with FastRing they can still be on the dealer’s website when the salesperson receives the lead and calls the customer — all within 6 seconds. FastRing instantly connects the dealership to the customer while they are still browsing the website, dramatically reducing the likelihood of them visiting a competitor site.

 

“With FastRing you are in contact with a lead before the customer has time to click away or even check their email. FastRing connects you with a lead instantly, faster than your competition could ever dream off. First impressions are ones that last and fast impressions are ones that sell,” Sutherlin added.

 

FastRing integrates with 3rd party applications creating instant connections from any lead source. It includes an extensive administration portal with 24/7 access to call data including call recordings and real-time statistics.

 

FastRing and FastPrice will are launching at the 2019 NADA show, January 25-27, 2019, at booth 7935W. For more information, view this video https://tinyurl.com/y7637fc9.

 

To schedule a booth visit, /or a demo, visit: https://www.fzautomotive.com/nada/

 

About fusionZONE Automotive, LLC

 

fusionZONE Automotive offers automotive dealers the nation’s fastest, most cutting-edge customized and responsive websites. With the sole objective of driving website conversions and leads, fusionZONE Automotive websites help dealers sell more cars.

 

fusionZONE also offers complete, progressive digital marketing solutions, streamlining the digital process for dealerships of all sizes.

 

fusionZONE Automotive websites are designed to not only garner as much traffic as possible for dealer clients, but also to actively convert that traffic into leads and sales.

 

fusionZONE is based in Pacific Palisades, CA Lakeland, FL and Seattle, WA.

 

Media Contact:

(424) 330-2356

marketing@fzautomotive.com


In this blog, I’d like to talk a little bit about American with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility and your websites, quickly covering some emerging issues and simple corrective actions you can take.
If you are an auto dealer in Florida or New York, your website is likely under scrutiny by lawyers representing potential customers. They review your site to see if it is accessible to potential customers with disabilities, as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act. In 2018, there were over 2,200 ADA compliance lawsuits filed – with almost 1,600 of them being in New York alone. The challenge of accessibility for dealers is made harder by a lack of agreement on the definition of “ADA Compliant” in the courts. Also, sites with large inventories and technical details, such as VIN numbers, are particularly difficult to make accessible.
As a dealer, what are you to do? The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) developed a set of standards – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) – which are now on their second version. Dealer websites should meet at least WCAG 2.1 Level A accessibility guidelines at a minimum and should strive to meet Level AA guidelines where practical. These guidelines focus on four areas known as POUR:
 

  • Perceivable – the tags and directions on the site should be evident and give the user a sense for what the form, button or link does.
  • Operable – the site should be navigable with a keyboard or a mouse.
  • Understandable – any messages and directions should be written clearly.
  • Robust – the design should work with most browsers and assistive technologies.

The W3C has a quick review checklist for accessibility to assess your current website for accessibility against WCAG requirements. As a dealer, you should take a few minutes and check your sites, identify any obvious areas of weakness, and work with your website provider and digital marketing agency to bring the site in line with the WCAG 2.1 A Standards.
When fusionZONE builds a website, we start with an approach that is designed to meet WCAG 2.1 A Standards:
 

  • All images uploaded to an FZ dealer’s site can be configured with an ‘alt’ text by the user.
  • FZ’s new web platform removes the need to use PDFs, as the responsive web platform was designed and built using text-based formats and is compatible with leading assistive technologies.
  • FZ provides the tools necessary to ensure our dealer’s websites have every opportunity to remain compliant with this standard. However, please note that brand compliance standards impact the ability of the solution to always meet optimal standards right out of the box– think colors and red-green color blindness, for instance.
  • FZ gives users (dealers) the tools and options to choose colors, sizing and font settings and the ability to implement color schemes to align with the dealer’s brand, where possible. A dealer maintains ultimate control over its website visitors’ web experience, and as such, can sometimes override brand and compliance guidelines.
  • FZ website tools enable a dealer to frame-in a video on their website and to also include related videos on their Vehicle Details Page (VDP). In both cases, if the video includes an audio description (text captions, etc.), the video and supporting elements will render correctly on the dealer’s FZ website.
  • We offer Audioeye (www.audioeye.com) as an add-on which provides voice navigation and other accessibility options.

Will this prevent an enterprising lawyer from suing your dealership? No. Will using a fusionZONE website, focusing on accessibility in design and applying available accessibility tools reduce your exposure and risk? Yes.
 

Se Habla español?


Many dealerships reap the benefits of employing staff that speak fluent Spanish for the simple reason that an increasing number of Spanish speakers frequent today’s dealerships for both sales and service. Language barriers can be a problem when it comes to service recommendation upsells or relaying the value of a vehicle, its features and, ultimately, a deal the customer can understand.
If you cannot communicate fluently with a significant demographic portion of your market area, your dealership could be losing a considerable amount of money in revenue from service declines and lost sales.
It’s one thing to have a Spanish speaking employee who can converse with customers in a way they understand. But what about engaging them when they aren’t at the dealership? How do you do that? Via your website!
According to the 2016 Census, Hispanics comprised 17 percent of the population of the United States; that is around 55 million people. The Census Bureau estimates that by 2060, Hispanics will make up 28 percent of the population. As a result, there will soon be 119 million U.S. residents of Hispanic descent, some of whom will speak English as a second language and perhaps need assistance from a Spanish-speaking employee.
Today’s car buyers conduct a majority of their research online, and that is sure to increase. If Hispanic-speaking customers cannot understand the messages on your website, it’s the same as if they are standing in your showroom unable to comprehend your salesperson. However, in this case, you may never have the opportunity to correct that situation.
If you have a large Hispanic market and do not already have one, it is time to consider a website built from the ground up dedicated solely to the Spanish language.
There are plenty of website providers that offer Spanish language websites to their dealer clients. However, be careful who you chose, as many just rely on Google’s translation tool when the customer has their browser set to Spanish. If you’ve ever tried to translate anything with this tool, you will have probably found that it does the job to some degree, but it’s not perfect. Also, if you chose to use Google-translated websites, the content isn’t indexed, so you essentially gain no benefit.
There is a better way: a SECOND website built organically from the ground up in Spanish. You can then deliver your messages directly to your customers in their native language with proper syntax and grammar. These customers will better understand you and, as a bonus, feel that your dealership cares about them and their ethnicity, and can genuinely assist them for all their sales and service needs.
Aside from those benefits, which are huge and can earn more sales and service business, there are considerable SEO benefits as well. First, as a second site, Google will fully index it. Whereas it does not index a site that is simply translated by the Google translation tool. How big of a deal is this? I’ve seen instances where a dealer’s SPANISH website outranks their primary ENGLISH website in search results! As an additional bonus, Spanish language websites aren’t under the scrutiny and policies of the manufacturer when they are true secondary websites, so you do not have to worry about compliance issues with your OEM.
It’s well worth looking into. A secondary website dedicated to the Spanish language produces extra website traffic, more leads and, ultimately, more sales.


In this modern age of transparency, dealers can get somewhat confused on the subject of pricing. Should they provide upfront pricing on their website, or ask customers to engage with their site first before receiving the dealership’s best price?
 
The industry is pretty divided on this topic, with consultants, trainers and others on both sides of the fence. On one side are those who feel that providing the best price on the dealer’s website without asking the customer for any engagement (no call-to-action), will cause the consumer to appreciate the transparency and choose that dealer. On the other side are those who feel that providing pricing without first requiring some form of engagement can, in fact, hurt sales.
 
First Theory: Provide Price Upfront – Those who have this opinion believe that today’s consumers are accustomed to fast information access. Consumers want immediate gratification and results, the same as they get from Google searches or browsing most other retailer’s websites. They can then take that information and make buying decisions. Those dealers perceived as the most helpful and transparent will win the business – especially with a significant purchase such as a new vehicle.
 
Second Theory: Get the consumer to engage before you show price, such as with an automated pricing tool on the site. Those in the industry who subscribe to this opinion feel that if you provide pricing upfront, shoppers will merely use it to price shop other dealers until they find the lowest price. By giving pricing information up front, without some form of engagement first, the dealer risks consumers price shopping without having a chance to first consider that dealer’s unique selling propositions including customer experience, amenities and other benefits such as free loaner cars, car washes, etc. Getting a consumer to engage first, perhaps with a quick price tool on the site, can increase leads and provide more opportunity to sell the vehicle than full pricing transparency.
 
Depending on the dealership’s thought processes either could work. But, is there a “right” way that all dealers should follow to convert the most consumers and/or sell the most cars via their website?
 
What do you think is the best theory? Let me know with your comments below. I think this will prove to be a lively discussion!

 

Conference season is upon us. As dealers go from seminar to seminar, and presentation after presentation, it can cause mass confusion about what data really matters. As a dealer, you may well be asking yourself, “What data should I really be watching at my dealership?”
Well, let’s keep it simple! Over the years I have found it boils down to two key things. Here is what you should be investigating:
 

  1. Conversions: Many years ago Autotrader.com was the top lead provider for dealers. As the Autotrader platform became less effective, generating fewer form leads and phone calls, Autotrader told dealers that customers were no longer filling out forms on websites. Also, according to Autotrader, customers were no longer calling dealers. They were just shopping on Autotrader.com, then they would show up unannounced at the dealership. Once Autotrader’s comments took hold, other lead and website providers went down the same path, instead of learning about today’s customer’s and how they shop.  Basically, they took the path of least resistance.

So, is it true that customers no longer fill-out form submissions on automotive websites?  I would say nothing could be further from the truth. Based on the past five years of data I have from working with Toyota, I have seen the exact opposite. Conversions have increased! Customers will still submit forms, and they are still calling the dealership.  Conversions really do matter and below are a few keys to customer engagement:
 

  • Have the right calls to actions on your website and VDPs.

 

  • Use automation to reply to customer’s requests immediately. Customers want immediate gratification and dealerships who respond quickly will often win the business or, at the very least, have the edge over the competition.

 

  1. Analytics: Google Analytics is perhaps the most confusing tool in the industry. For years the “experts” spoke about Time On Site, Bounce Rate, Impressions and more. However, they failed to consider how mobile device usage was affecting the data.

Guess what? Mobile has changed the game 100% when dealing with Google Analytics. Many companies are still talking about and selling Bounce Rate, or how many pages a consumer visited on a dealer’s website. As mobile usage has made double-digit climbs year in and year out, this is no longer relevant data.
It is hard to believe that companies are still making dealers swallow this dated information, as we are approaching over five years of irrelevancy. Case in point:  When a customer visits a dealer’s website on a mobile device and hits the click-to-call button, Google will report this as a 100% Bounce Rate for that visit, as the customer was on and off the website in a matter of seconds. This is entirely wrong information! The customer converted to a lead in just a few seconds. However, Google does not report it accurately. Instead, they label this customer as one who bounced. Bounce Rate does not matter in today’s digital landscape.
The exact same principle applies to Time On Site data. In the above example, the customer was on the website for three seconds and actually converted into a lead.
Most dealers are still wasting time analyzing and looking for the longer visits, assuming a three second visit was nothing but a bounce. When you compare that to a customer who is on a website for six minutes without converting, I will take the mobile customer who converted in three seconds all day long!
This brings me to my final point. Dealers set up Google Analytics on their dealership’s website 5-10 years ago. It is not set up for today’s metrics. Dealers can log-in to Google Analytics and see Bounce Rate, Time On Site, Pages per Visit and more, but this is all outdated information that no longer matters.
In today’s society of mobile-first usage, it is vital to focus on the correct data. This includes metrics on how many VDPs were visited, how many times the click-to call-button was used, and how many times a customer scrolled through photos of an actual vehicle. These data points indicate a very interested customer and are much more relevant than the outdated metrics that dealers are still relying on to make decisions, and that vendors reference as proof of performance.
As we go into NADA and the full conference season, consider this information when deciding where to invest your time. Make it a priority to visit your current vendors and ask them to show you these particular data points. Having full knowledge of and using modern data metrics that make sense will give you a more accurate benchmark, and you can see whether your website is actually performing – or whether the data being fed to you is all hot air. Good luck!
 
 
 
 
 


Have you ever eagerly awaited the release of a great new movie? Anticipation mounts as release day approaches. Then you go and see it, only to leave disappointed. I’m sure I can name plenty of box office bombs which were initially hyped up and expected to be box office blockbusters. If you look at the factors involved in what makes a “bomb” versus a “blockbuster,” there tends to be one key thing that ruins the movie — the script.
The same principle applies to many of the new technology “shiny objects” presented to dealers for them to salivate over, especially website add-ons and widgets. They are sold with high expectations. Then, when installed, don’t perform as expected. Dealers end up disappointed and cancel the service.
The problem is, many of these “shiny objects,” while canceled, do not get removed and the script remains running in the background until infinity.
Every time you add a new widget to your website, your website vendor installs a script so that it functions properly. As you cancel services, those scripts tend to pile up. However, they still continue to communicate with the canceled vendor’s service, even though your dealership receives no benefit. In fact, quite the opposite. Those scripts left on your website threaten your Google rankings and SEO because one of the factors Google looks at when evaluating a website is site speed. The more scripts running in the background, the slower the site, meaning your dealership website is penalized by Google.
It can get pretty incredible. In fact, I recently came across a dealership that couldn’t understand why its site was running so slowly. It turned out that it had 71 old scripts still running despite having canceled the service! Those scripts were killing the website like a bunch of digital sharks attacking the dealership.
Is it the vendor’s fault? In some cases, perhaps. You can’t rely on vendors you have canceled to reach out to your website provider and uninstall the script. When it comes to your website, it pays to be vigilant.
If you cancel a service, reach out to your website provider to ensure it is uninstalled. Failing to do so can harm your website speed over time and lead to a detrimental analysis by Google in your search rankings. Also, think about all that data those scripts continue to transmit to the canceled vendors.
In the end, it is essential to safeguard your dealership from digital sharks and bad scripts. Otherwise, your website could go from a box-office blockbuster to a bomb. And that is an outcome no dealership wants!
 
 


These days, reviews are an incredibly important part of the purchase process for all retail businesses. In fact, according to a recent article, online reviews influence a whopping 93% of consumer purchasing decisions.
Car shoppers increasingly turn to reviews when deciding who they should buy a vehicle from, which is the 4th step in Google’s 5 step consumer car-buying process. At this point, the consumer is a pretty low-funnel, the only remaining step being “Am I getting a good deal?”
Car dealerships have long been trained by both vendors and manufacturers to pay attention to reviews; to respond to and interact with any consumers that leave reviews for their dealership.
Historically, one of the single most important areas on Google is a dealership’s Google My Business page. It is one of the first things to pop up when a consumer searches for a dealership. Too many bad reviews can mean the dealership loses sales without even getting to know about the prospective car shopper. That lead just goes to a competitive dealer whose online reviews makes it appear they will provide a better experience. That is why many dealerships are hyper-sensitive (and rightfully so) about maintaining a positive presence and actively solicit happy customers to leave reviews, especially if a bad review was posted and they need to balance it out.
As of now, a dealership’s Google My Business page typically includes a little information such as overall star-ratings from multiple review sites, along with a few reviews. However, a consumer has to click into the dealership’s Google My Business page to read more.
Well, things are changing – and fast! Google is about to supercharge reviews, making them more important than ever, by allowing consumers to leave comments and reviews RIGHT IN THE SEARCH RESULTS! And not only that, but searchers will be able to up and down vote comments a la Reddit. They can press the up arrow if they think the comment is helpful or insightful. While the down vote option can be used if it appears the poster has bad intentions or is disrespectful.
According to Search Engine Journal, Google is testing this feature right now. Imagine a consumer searching for a dealership name, or even a general search phrase such as “Honda dealership,” and right in the search results they see comments, up and down votes and reviews from other consumers.
Without going to a single review site, a consumer can view and like comments about a dealership, right in the search results. What if a consumer posts, “This dealership sucks!” and others like that comment enough that it is the FIRST thing that appears in search results? At this point, a searcher will probably never click on a dealership’s Google My Business page, and they probably won’t click on the LINK TO THE DEALERSHIP’S PAGE!
It’s even possible that a dealership with poor reviews could WANT their dealership’s listing to NOT show up high in organic searches. God forbid that a prospective car shopper sees other consumer’s negative comments about that dealership right in the search results, without having to visit any review site. Now the dealership has two choices. First, it can clean up its reputation and somehow get consumers to leave positive comments in the search results to counter-balance the negative one. Or, second, try to make their dealership as invisible as possible in search results — search engine optimization… but in reverse.
Stay tuned my friends, this is all very new, and reviews are going to get even more interesting. Decisions about how to handle those comments that will soon appear in your search results will need to be made. And you should have strategies in place to handle them.
Interesting times are ahead. In this highly-competitive industry it is best to be ready ahead of time, rather than play catch up when it may be too late.
 


Arguably, one of the most important marketing channels any dealership has is their website. Think about it. How much money do you spend simply to get customers there? When you combine all marketing efforts including, but not limited to, SEO, SEM, some third-party listing sites and more, dealerships spend tens of thousands of dollars (or more) per month.
Once that customer hits the dealer’s site, most dealers have the additional cost of all of the widgets it has chosen to adopt. Whether that’s a chat service, trade-in appraisal tool, inventory merchandising on VDPs, video and photo content and more, everything is designed to communicate with customers and/or provide the information that they need so they convert and purchase a vehicle.
But what about the most profitable area of your dealership? What about those customers that need vehicle service?
A huge piece of the puzzle is missing from most dealership’s websites: the service department.
According to NADA’s 2017 annual report, the average dealership’s service and parts department enjoyed sales of $6,793,905. But, when it comes to marketing, at many dealerships this profit center is overlooked.
That makes no sense whatsoever! Why would any dealership exclude marketing their biggest profit center when they could do so relatively easily?
All that money spent on SEO and SEM is mostly designed to attract car buyers. Ah, but many current customers go online when they have service-related questions, such as how to pair their iPhone with their in-vehicle entertainment system, how much does service cost, or to perhaps search for available coupons. The sad part is that far too often the dealership’s website has very little, and sometimes no service information at all. Those that do are often full of outdated information and expired coupons.
So, where do theses customer go to get that information?
While you’re completely focused on acquiring sales customers, your service customers are finding all the information they need in the worst possible place for the future of your dealership’s largest profit center… on independent repair shop’s websites!
And, at that point, where do you think those customers will go for service? It’d be silly to think that consumers aren’t motivated by low prices, offers of speed and convenience and attractive coupons.
But, the biggest problem many dealerships have in this highly competitive service space is NO MESSAGE WHATSOEVER! What is a dealership supposed to do? Why not pay attention to the very strategies independent repair shops have long used to steal your customers: implement a few of them and reclaim that service business.
Consider revamping your website and provide the information your customers are seeking — rich service and parts content, tutorial videos, effective appointment scheduling services and more. Provide your dealership with every opportunity to serve these customers, establish value in dealership service versus independent repair facilities and this will quite simply help to prevent customers bouncing from your website to an independent’s.  That rich content will also attract new service customers.
Another huge benefit of relevant, user-friendly content which is continuously posted and updated, is that it helps your dealership rank higher in Google searches. The exact thing you desire on the sales side is much easier to achieve in fixed ops. In most cases, you are not in competition with manufacturers, third party listing sites, lead providers and so on, vying for customer eyeballs. You may even want to consider creating a standalone website on a sub-URL designed specifically for service.
It’s absolutely possible for your dealership to outrank PepBoys, Firestone, Midas and Jiffy Lube! In addition, because Google search results are now location-based, you have an edge over competing brand dealers to get that local service work by ranking higher in common routine maintenance searches.
Stop ignoring your service department and start using your online real estate as a powerful marketing platform for vehicle service. Don’t be afraid to advertise service-related pricing, the independents do, and they are doing just fine. Take back the service work that is rightfully yours by adopting best practices that will drive service customers. Some of them, as you know, do convert to sales customers. The bottom line is; the more customers you have coming to your dealership – whether sales or service – the more profitable you will be and, in the end, isn’t that what you want?

Online Reviews-Reputation Management - Dealership Digital Marketing
Online reviews, and especially Google reviews, should be a huge priority for any business operating today. It takes some time and constant effort to properly execute a review management strategy, but it’s worth it: reviews provide the very foundation of your online reputation, and how you manage them can mean the difference between life and death for your dealership.
Trust-building and Brand Differentiation.
We live in an age where widespread internet access means that dealers don’t get to make the first impression when a customer walks onto their lot. With a vast majority of consumers conducting a vast majority of their research online before ever setting foot inside a dealership, dealers must be able to establish and build trust at the very outset of a prospective customer’s online journey. To this end, online reviews are critical to the initial establishment of trust for online shoppers. Research has shown that:
Online Reviews-Reputation-Management-Dealership-Digital-Marketing
These numbers speak volumes about the necessity of online reviews for today’s shopper, and why including them in your reputation management strategy is no longer merely an option. Review management, as one component of a greater rep man strategy, will continue to be critical for the foreseeable future.
Reviews are also necessary for brand differentiation. Consider that the automotive industry is an almost perfectly competitive market: a consumer can find the same or essentially the same products and features at any dealership within a given segment. As a result, we must find other ways to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. One way many dealers are doing this is by creating a unique and pleasant car-shopping experience. But even if you’ve formulated a slam-dunk customer experience, how will online shoppers know about it? You guessed it: by reading reviews on the internet. Given that 90% of consumers read online reviews before deciding to visit a local business, your reviews are what will make you stand out so that buyers want to visit your store rather than the one down the street.
Making Reviews Work for You.
Like social media, online reviews are not a one-and-done thing; making them work to your advantage requires incorporating them into your larger reputation management strategy, and growing and monitoring them on a regular basis. Three of the most important factors for effectively managing your online reviews are recency, quantity, and quality.
When an internet user enters a search query into Google, Google’s aim is to serve up content or businesses that are most relevant to the search terms. It follows, then, that recency increases relevance, and dealerships with the most recent content and reviews will fare better on search results pages.
Along with being a key search ranking factor, the recency of your online reviews has a direct impact on whether consumers decide to visit your website and, ultimately, your dealership. BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey revealed several key findings that go to the importance of recency:
Online Reviews-Car Dealership-Digital Marketing
To sum this up, you must be constantly seeking new reviews – every day, from every customer. Getting ten great reviews in two days in order to cover up one bad review is not a viable business practice; today’s customers are more savvy than ever, and they will quickly catch on, resulting in a degradation of your dealership’s credibility and perceived trustworthiness.
Constantly seeking new reviews isn’t important only for recency, either; it goes to quantity, too. Consumers look to see how many reviews have contributed to your dealership’s overall star-rating. Think about it from a consumer’s perspective: Are you more likely to trust a business with five stars and only 2 reviews, or one with 4.5 stars and 50 reviews? Common sense points to the latter.
The star-ratings and content of reviews is, as you can imagine, hugely important, both for SEO ranking as well as for building consumer trust. On its support site, Google has said that “Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.” Rating and content quality are important to prospective customers, too. According to Podium’s State of Online Reviews survey, 3.3 is the minimum star-rating a business must have for consumers to even consider engaging with it. And since 68% of consumers would pay more for the same product or service if assured they would have a better experience, it’s important that the substantive content of the reviews include an evaluation of the various aspects of each customer’s experience that led them to write a review.
There’s an important caveat here, though. Having a few negative reviews isn’t always a bad thing; the key is how you respond to and manage them. In fact, a large number of online car shoppers say that they’d trust a dealership that professionally and caringly responded to a negative review more than they’d trust a dealership that had no negative reviews whatsoever. If you manage them properly, one or two negative reviews can actually enable trust rather than hindering it.
The bottom line is that online reviews have a huge impact on your bottom line. If properly solicited, managed, and monitored, they can propel car shoppers to both your website and your brick-and-mortar dealership, and ultimately result in a significant lift in sales.