Neighborhood word of mouth used to count a lot for dealerships. Now, as Volkswagen dealers are learning, it's much more about the stars.
Volkswagen of America this year looked at the star ratings achieved by its 600 dealers on Google reviews and other Web sites, said Charlie Taylor, VW's general manager of digital marketing.
The results were eye-opening, Taylor said. VW found that dealers who attained an average score of four stars or better (out of five) on consumer reviews received 32 percent more traffic to their Web sites from Google searches than those with two stars or fewer.
"Star ratings have a profound effect on traffic," Taylor said.
VW performed the study with Cobalt, a digital marketing and Web vendor.
Dealers are learning new steps to monitor and boost their ratings, such as actively asking customers for reviews within 48 hours of a vehicle sale or service. When customers are fresh from the experience, they are most likely to write a positive review.
Dealers are finding that true reputation management requires constant attention.