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DONNA HARRIS

Online dealer ratings getting more attention than CSI

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing for Automotive News
Many dealers seem to be minding their online dealer ratings more than they are the factory's customer satisfaction indexes.

Some say the online ratings are a better gauge of what customers think of their stores. They're certainly more up-to-the-minute. And data from J.D. Power and Associates indicates nearly 40 percent of car shoppers use ratings to determine where they'll buy their vehicle.

Cars.com is one of the latest to launch a dealer rating service. Edmunds.com is refining its dealer ratings.

Reputation monitoring is all the rage at the NADA show. Dealer.com is one example.

It keeps tabs on dealers' ratings on Web sites such as Google.com and DealerRater.com, alerting dealers when there's a complaint. It also provides dealers with an aggregate score.

Sure, dealers have to pay attention to CSI -- particularly if the factory ties bonuses to scores. But potential customers are evaluating dealerships based on the online ratings by other consumers. And that's good enough reason for many dealers to give the online dealer ratings more weight.

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