I recently moved to Southern California from Florida, and one differentiating feature is the sheer amount of people. It’s very populated here. Not in a bad way. Just a “bustling” kind of way.
Dense population brings culture, vibrancy, things to do, triggers a strong need for organized information, and trustworthy sources to get you to places you need or want to be. Such as properly marked road signs, or easily accessible review apps on your smartphone to tell you whether or not to patronize an establishment.
There are so many restaurants, clubs, and activities in Southern California that it’s a bit daunting. I can fully understand why California is the epicenter for technology advancements, because people are just trying to simplify basic needs like figuring out where and when things are happening. When you’re here you realize just how valuable Yelp and FourSquare really are. You’re listening to the online voice of the community tell you “yes, go to this supermarket” or “no don’t go to this restaurant.” It takes the guesswork out of going to a place just because it looks glamorous from the outside. Essentially bringing technology to “word-of-mouth” advertising.
Word-of-mouth has always been the most important form of advertising. It is total peer credibility. You are more likely to trust your friend saying, “Hey, this place has great food” opposed to a commercial saying, “Come here, we have great food.”
In fact, 84% of people (according to Nielsen) trust word-of-mouth advertising. 68% trust consumer opinions online. Whereas 48% trust a banner ad you’ve placed somewhere.
Now lets transpose this to our car business:
We all know that good sales involves good relationships, and good relationships are worth talking about. Do you know why a salesperson-less car dealership is even worth inventing? Because there is no hassle. That’s right. Face the facts…we “car people” have a reputation of hassling the customer. We’re like the grandmother that insists that a kid eats the brussel sprouts. We don’t get resounding yes’ from our customers we just get them to say the word “fine!”. We wash our hands of the sale, and walk away.
Until…The aftermath. Sure we made the sale. Congrats. But what did they tell their peers? That they felt hassled? That they didn’t feel that their best interest was in mind? What’s worse is that now these folks aren’t just telling their buddies over a beer, they’re jumping on their phones and desktops and saying it to absolutely everyone that searches for you online through reviews! Scary. Don’t panic. The answer is really simple. Put yourself in their shoes (Do unto others..).
I’ve sold stuff to car dealers at NADA and Digital Dealer, and each one of you know what a good sales experience feels like. You’re just as disinterested as the next customer if you don’t need the product. But if you do, you’ll vet the product or service thoroughly just like anyone else.
You have a distinct advantage in your store–people are generally interested in the brand. That’s why they’re there. Chances are, they’re just disinterested in giving you their phone number because you’ll call them non-stop.
I’m not saying leave them alone. You have to make sales. But try making yourself more than just a salesperson to them. Make yourself more than just a dealership. Make yourself a trusted advisor who is as interested in seeing them drive off the lot in the right vehicle as they are. Make yourself the kind of dealership that delivers award winning service no matter the awards you’ve won. Prove to your customer and yourself that you do, in FACT, provide the best automobile experience, hands down, in your competitive landscape.
Lastly, allow your reviews to shape the future of your business. If you have people complaining about tire service, take a hard look at the operational side of that facet of your business and work to correct it.
Remember, it’s not just about making a “customer for life”, it’s getting their friends and family to be “lifers” as well. In return you’ll begin to reap the benefits of being credible and caring about your customers, as your Google, Yelp, and other review ratings begin to climb.
Here’s your cliffnote: When it comes to your reputation management, manipulate your business to meet the needs of the reviewer and not the reviewer to meet the needs of your business. If you’ve had success stories in getting your reviews up, let me know I’d love to hear about them!