Reviews can grease or kill deals
Studies: Consumers want dealers to respond to negative comments
Stacey Coopes, FordDirect CEO: If dealers can get positive reviews posted in the right places, on sites such as Google+ Local, Yelp and Cars.com, and reach out to people who leave negative ones, they stand a better chance of remaining in competition for sales.
Dealers are seeing a steady stream of studies asserting that online consumer reviews influence traffic and sales at dealerships.
FordDirect, a vehicle shopping site for Ford buyers, found after surveying 1,124 new- and used-car buyers in December that consumers tend to steer away from dealerships with negative reviews and want dealers to respond to reviews good or bad. A recent DealerRater study reached similar conclusions.
If dealers can get positive reviews posted in the right places, on sites such as Google+ Local, Yelp and Cars.com, and reach out to people who leave negative ones, they stand a better chance of remaining in competition for sales, said FordDirect CEO Stacey Coopes.
The FordDirect survey performed by Research Now found that 63 percent of auto shoppers are less likely to purchase from a dealership that receives negative comments. The survey also found that 59 percent of buyers felt more positive about a dealer who responds to negative reviews.
Coopes said FordDirect, a joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and Ford dealers, this month will begin offering a free service to all 3,300 Ford dealerships that alerts them whenever they are mentioned in a review across the more than 20 review sites nationally. Reputation.com is being contracted to run the service.
FordDirect also offers dealerships discounts with another vendor, Digital Air Strike, to manage review collection and responses, Coopes said.
DealerRater, a major dealership review site, recently worked with Polk to conclude that dealerships with at least a four-star rating out of a possible five from customer reviews posted 25 percent greater vehicle sales than dealerships with two stars or less, said Heather MacKinnon, DealerRater vice president of national accounts.
Polk looked at 75 percent of the new-car registrations nationally for the first nine months of 2012 and 2011. MacKinnon said dealerships with better ratings captured customer attention online and landed them with superior in-store performance.
She said DealerRater, with nearly one million reviews, is changing its premium review-management program to allow dealers to post positive reviews generated across all review sites directly to their dealership Web sites and Facebook pages.
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