Conference season is upon us (does it ever really end?), and this year’s hot topics are starting to emerge. This month, we participated in a local Digital Dealer workshop here in Los Angeles. As with other events, content was a big topic at the workshop, as was dealer reviews and ratings.
A constant theme in discussions about dealer reviews: Customers are choosing reputation over location. As a result, there has been a lot of talk about the integrity of online reviews and ratings. Friends are checking with other friends – both in person and online – for referrals to good dealers with excellent customer service. Dealers must have real, positive reviews or the consumer will avoid a store with prejudice.
Dealers definitely sense the urgency around this important piece of customer acquisition, and they are spending big money to get it right. There seem to be a few of places where it’s important to really get it right: Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, as well as Cars.com, Edmunds, and Dealer Rater for an inside-the-industry perspective. Some of these online destinations mostly aggregate reviews from several sources, so accuracy of reviews will be a constant battle. It’s not hard to give a fake review – though doing so is becoming more dangerous than in the past. I mostly see 4 or 5 star ratings for dealers, which means the ratings aren’t very insightful if no one is ever below the top 90%.
So who can you trust? Ultimately, I think a consumer will try to connect with someone they know (or a friend of a friend) who works in the industry. It does seem to be putting pressure on great service, and it will be interesting to see how it evolves in the days ahead. The best dealers always seem to hire great people, train them well, and focus on the customers’ needs. Indeed, an easy way to guarantee good reviews is by providing a great experience for every prospect that walks through your door.
Join Me at Digital Dealer!
I’m excited to be a chosen speaker for the Digital Dealer 15 conference next month in Las Vegas. My session is called “Getting Warmer: Why You’re Still Losing Sales,” and I’ll be providing an update to a session I presented last year in which we used exclusive CarsDirect data to explore the reasons why online prospects decide not to purchase from dealers. I’ll be exploring how things have changed over the past year – the changes in reasons customers don’t buy from dealerships, and how customer satisfaction with dealers has evolved. Most importantly, we’ll share crucial strategies on how to use this fresh data to get a leg up on your competition, with a particular focus on how best to set your prices online to maximize your chances of converting leads into sales. We’ll cover the basics of setting a price, strategic pricing relative to your competition, and essential tools to use when setting prices.
My session is scheduled for Thursday October 17, at 10:00am. If you’ll be at Digital Dealer, I’d be delighted if you’d join me.
See you in Vegas!
VP Sales, CarsDirect