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4 Actionable Insights from Cars.com for Your Auto Dealership

When we think of Cars.com, we mainly see it as a tool for inventory, loading, and dissemination. By looking at it as exclusively a virtual catalog, dealerships miss out on many features that could potentially generate new leads, point the undecided their way, and bolster the credibility of their business. As Cars.com evolves in feature set and grows in reach, it is essential to be an early adopter in order to maintain a competitive edge and dominate your regional market.

(Check out: “New Study Shows that Car Shoppers are More Likely to Buy from Dealerships with Positive Reviews”) 

Take Ownership of Your Profile

First impressions matter for any purchase, but they become more important for large-ticket items. A completed and well-branded profile that paints a picture of the features, services, and experience level of your dealership will help establish initial trust.

This is especially important when a buyer is at the research stage of the car buying process and they opt to conduct a search by dealership brand to locate the one closest to their home or place of employment. All things being equal, a buyer is likely to select a dealership with a completed, informative, and trust-conveying profile and a strong score or star rating. In addition to enhancing your credibility in the industry, a strong and well-written profile can also help your SEO performance.

Be Service-Oriented

When taking a deep dive into the themes of collected auto dealership reviews, one quickly realizes a common denominator: service. The bulk of the reviews speak of service provided post-purchase and either highlight a positive experience or convey a service shortcoming.

The moral of the story is to make sure that you build a customer relationship for life. Don’t drop your customer after you have closed the sale. By being service-oriented, a dealership is able to build brand and dealership loyalty that will without doubt result in second and third car purchases. The dealerships with the best service-related scores frequently feature customer conveniences such as loaner cars, courtesy car washes, free wireless Internet, and concierge-level customer lounges. Given 8 out of ten shoppers look at reviews before buying a product or service, tackling these metrics totally makes sense.

Be Multimedia-Heavy

Let’s go back to basics. The main reason potential car buyers visit Cars.com is to have the opportunity to shop inventories from the comfort of their own computer. Providing high-quality images and video that fully and truthfully convey the features and aesthetic aspects of a vehicle can make the difference between capturing a sale and missing out on a potential buyer.

Used-car dealerships need to constantly audit the way they convey less-than-perfect vehicles. Truth can go a long way in establishing trust and gaining new customers. As for new-car dealerships, don’t be shy about hiring a professional photographer, and avoid stock photos. Customers want to see the actual car they are likely to buy.

Your photos for both new and used vehicles should allow the potential buyer to explore the interior and exterior of a vehicle while capturing all angles and focusing on popular features such as seat material, dashboard look and feel, and whole body photo. If your budget permits, consider loading virtual car tours.

Your Dealership Reputation Matters

80  percent of shoppers will look at your reputation score before considering visiting your dealership. Having the best car inventory and the best prices may not be enough to tip the scales and have the customer select you as their dealership of choice.

Be hands-on, and make it a point to have interactive engagement by providing review responses that are solution oriented, customer-focused and brand-representative. If you have not yet implemented a review management strategy that aggregates car-specific websites such as Cars.com as well as more general retail and services such as Yelp and YellowPages, then consider taking that step today.

Crystal Shuller

Crystal is the Director of Customer Happiness for ReviewTrackers. She's known around the office for E-mails that make everyone smile, and she has a bag of tricks and tips to help businesses solve their problems and delight their customers.

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