How to Go from Being a Three Star to a Five Star Used Car Dealership

Find out everything you need to know to become a five star dealership.

Ratings and reviews have become a critical part of business success. This is especially true for used car dealers. Having stellar scores and awesome testimonials will drive customer traffic to your lot or website. Bad reviews and negative comments will keep shoppers from checking you out.


According to recent research:

  • More than nine out of ten car buyers say they check online reviews before visiting automobile dealerships.
  • Upwards of two out of three people trust online car dealership reviews.
  • Car dealers with better than average ratings attract five times more shoppers than those that have lower ones.


Industry experts believe that a single negative review could cost a used car business many prospective customers. Some peg the number as high as 30 per bad review.


The issue: Most used car buyers that leave the lot reasonably satisfied with their experience don’t provide reviews. The ones who do are those that are extremely pleased with their purchase or those who have had a miserable experience. The truth is that unhappy people provide more reviews than happy ones, and their comments are typically longer and more passionate.


So what can you do to gain control over your dealership’s ratings and reviews? Here are some proven tips from our panel of industry experts.


1. Don’t blow it.

If you and the people on your team don’t make mistakes, it’s less likely that shoppers or buyers will slam your business online. If you’re concerned about the cost or time it will take to provide ongoing customer service training, compare it with the damage that a single bad review could do to your operation. It’s likely that a quick cost benefit analysis will show a training program is a smart investment in the success of your business.


2. Take control if you DO blow it.

If a shopper has a bad experience on your lot, don’t let them leave unhappy. It’s likely that the next thing they will do is take out their frustrations online. Instead, gain control over the situation. Ask questions to understand what it is that’s making the customer unhappy. Then work with them to resolve the issue to their satisfaction. It’s easy to become frustrated or angry when dealing with a shopper who may be acting irrationally. This will only toss gasoline on the fire. Instead, avoid emotion and stay rational. Turning a dissatisfied shopper into a happy customer could transform a potential bad review into a positive one.


3. Make it a point to ask for reviews.

The reason many dealerships don’t get reviews is because they don’t ask for them. People who have a reasonably good experience don’t think about documenting it. Train everyone on your team to ask for a review whenever they’ve had a positive interaction with customers. This includes your sales reps, finance experts and service personnel. Most people are happy to help out others by providing a review when asked.


4. Delight your clients and prospects.

As we covered above, unhappy people are the most likely to leave reviews. So are extremely satisfied ones. Find ways to delight your customers. Think of new ways to make them smile when they drive off your lot. Train the people on your team on how to do these things. Going above and beyond, even in the most banal interactions, will go a long way toward getting more five star reviews.


5. Respond to negative reviews.

Even the best dealers get some bad reviews. The worst thing you can do is ignore them. It makes it seem like you don’t care. When you receive one, do your due diligence and find out what happened. Then answer the complaint online. Don’t be argumentative. Stay positive and helpful. Be specific in your response and publicly make it clear that you are willing to take steps to make things right. If you handle the issue correctly, you could turn a bad review into an opportunity to show that you care about your customers.


6. Remind people to review you.

Make it a policy for everyone on your team to follow-up on your client interactions with a thank you. Send out a quick personal email or text message. At the end of each communication, include a request for a review along with a link to your ratings platform. A quick reminder is often all it takes to get people to provide testimonials. Encouraging prospects and customers to comment on everyday interactions, not just big buying experiences, will demonstrate that your dealership provides a high level of service in everything you do.


7. Leverage your reviews to drive business.

Once you have your rating system under control, make sure you integrate it into your marketing and sales process. Make them a prominent part of your website and share positive client stories via email. It will build credibility and trust in your business, which will drive additional traffic to your lot and online buying platform. This will give you more chances to make customers happy, which will generate even more positive reviews. It’s a beneficial cycle which will allow you to grow your business over the long term.


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