From the lot to the service drive, online reviews are more critical than ever to car dealership success these days. It’s not just about your average rating, either: low review counts can cause customers to avoid your dealership or fail to follow through with a purchase
That could mean the difference between a thriving dealership and a failing one.
Before we dive into strategies to boost your review count at your dealership, let’s quickly review why customer reviews are so important for car dealership profitability.
Using reviews to build trust before the sale
Positive reviews can lead to increased profits by building trust with potential customers and making your dealership stand out among the competition.
67% of vehicle owners choose a dealer for service based only on reviews and online searches.
On the other hand, negative reviews can harm a dealership’s reputation and profits by deterring potential customers from coming back to get service — or from visiting your dealership in the first place.
A car dealership with a 3.5-star rating or higher will attract about 5x more buyers than dealerships with lower ratings, with some studies showing an additional 1.5x gain when moving from 3 to 4 stars.
When it comes to the service drive, 67% of vehicle owners say they choose a dealer for service based on online searches and reviews alone.
Reviews provide an honest and unbiased perspective on your dealership’s service and products. Positive reviews can serve as social proof and help potential customers feel more confident in their decision to buy from a particular dealership.
On the flip side of course, negative reviews can damage your reputation, and cause a substantial drop in revenue.
The 2020 Dealership Service Retention Report
Insights from Nearly 2,000 Dealership Customers
It’s not just about rating quality, but quantity
We previously made a post discussing how to maintain a high rating in your reviews, and how to leverage those reviews to increase business. Today’s post is more about review quantity.
Customers are 270% more likely to purchase a car or service if you have 5 reviews, compared to zero
Why does the number of reviews you have matter? Your quantity of reviews is often just as important as the quality, believe it or not. Having just few 5-star reviews doesn’t build much trust, but several dozen 4-star reviews would.
In fact, your customers are 270% more likely to purchase a car or service if you have just five reviews, compared to having no reviews.
Furthermore, when it comes to online visibility, the top 3 positions in Google’s local search have an average of 47 reviews.
If you want customers to keep coming back — or even find you online at all — you need a high quantity of reviews.
How to increase your review count
A giant stack of reviews goes a long way to increasing business at your dealership. So how do you boost your total review count?
Encourage customers to leave reviews at the point of service
Dealerships can request customers leave a review at the point of service, such as when customers are first picking up their vehicle, or after a service appointment.
This can be as simple as handing them a business card with your preferred review site links on it (e.g. Google or Yelp), or getting their email address to send a request.
Automate review requests
As we’ve discussed previously, you can automate the follow-up process to make sure every customer is asked to leave a review.
Many dealership service departments use tools like Podium and RepLev to automate this process. This can be done by sending a text message or email to customers inviting them to leave a review on various review sites like Google, Facebook, DealerRater, and Edmunds.
If you’re using a customer relationship management (CRM) system like VinSolutions or DealerSocket, you could instead consider setting up automated follow-up emails for customers, asking them to leave a review.
As with any marketing communications, never spam your customers with these requests, and be sure they don’t receive any more reminders after they’ve already left a review.
Dealerships can increase their review count by offering cash rewards or other incentives for customers to leave a review. This can be a powerful way to encourage customers to take a few minutes to write a review.
For instance, some dealers will offer a free oil change to any customer who sends proof that they’ve left a review (depending on the system you’re using, you may need them to email you a screenshot of their review in order to claim their reward).
Bear in mind that you should ask for honest reviews — don’t demand positive reviews in exchange for their reward. This can damage your reputation and in many cases is illegal.
That said, you can still be selective about who you ask for reviews — if a customer had an amazing experience, don’t pass up the opportunity to get a review from them. On the flip side, if the customer had a bad experience for one reason or another, focus your efforts on fixing the problem rather than asking for public feedback in the moment.
You’re better off without a perfect rating
Oddly, customers are much more influenced by ratings of 4.2 to 4.5 stars than a perfect 5 star rating. In other words, you’re generally better off with a lot of reviews that have an imperfect average, compared to getting a perfect 5-star rating.
The reasoning here is twofold: first, most people think a 5-star rating is too good to be true. Second, oftentimes businesses with 5-star ratings only have a handful of reviews, and it’s easy to wonder if it’s just employees and friends leaving perfect reviews to artificially boost the company’s rating.
Reviews are critical to success for any car dealership these days. Low review counts can cause customers to avoid your dealership or fail to follow through with a purchase. Focus on driving your review count higher, and you’ll find revenue goes up along with it.
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