Running a car dealership? You may be interested to hear the success story of one automotive dealer in Michigan – and how it leveraged online reviews to drive its business performance, online reputation, and showroom traffic.
Back in 2011, the online reputation of family-owned Shuman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Walled Lake, Michigan was not what you’d call “glowing.” It didn’t get a lot of online reviews, and the few ones posted by buyers and customers turned out to be mostly negative.
Also, for years, the dealership focused on achieving high SSI (Sales Satisfaction Index) and CSI (Customer Service Index) scores. But it didn’t pay as much attention to the way it was being talked about online. The staff, in short, was not monitoring dealership reviews – including those on aggregators like Yelp and (then) Google Places.
“We had consistently earned top ratings in SSI and CSI for years, yet our online consumer ratings were low since only a few dissatisfied customers were posting reviews,” said Bob Shuman, principal owner of the dealership.
How the dealership embraced the power of online car dealer reviews
That’s when Bob and the team went to work on their online reputation. Shuman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram found out about DealerRater and enrolled in the auto dealer review site’s Certified Dealer Program. The dealer also embraced a more proactive role in reaching out to customers, leaving them DealerRater rating reminder cards, and encouraging them to leave online reviews.
Moreover, Bob and his General Manager, Joe Zeigler, began to stress the importance of online reviews to their sales staff and employees, who were then trained to share Shuman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram’s DealerRater review page to potential buyers during sales visits. The sales team also added a link to this page in their E-mail signatures: a subtle but effective way of encouraging reviews.
Bob added: “We set the expectation that employees should aim for a verbal agreement from the customer for a review on DealerRater after each sale. To reward positive results, we began E-mailing five-star reviews to the employees tagged in that review, along with a personal note recognizing the importance of that achievement. We copied all employees on these E-mails, encouraging the team to strive for great reviews.”
As for the possibility of getting negative dealer reviews on DealerRater and other review sites, Bob said that he and his team are not afraid of them. The low ratings and negative feedback do, in fact, lend credibility to the hundreds of positive reviews that the dealership has received. The dealership also actively responds to these negative reviews by providing private and public responses – thus demonstrating that Shuman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram is serious about ensuring customer satisfaction.
The awesome results of dealership review monitoring & management
The results of this Michigan dealer’s efforts are astounding. Shuman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram has since generated an impressive total of 1,149 online dealer reviews on DealerRater, with an even more impressive 24-month rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars; 185 of these reviews are positive service-related reviews, and its ratings are all five stars across the board of criteria like customer service, quality of work, friendliness, overall experience, and pricing.
It also generated more positive reviews on sites like Google+ Local and Cars.com, without specifically targeting those sites. Shuman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram also recently won DealerRater’s overall Dealer of the Year for 2013, as well as dealer of the year for all of its four brand categories: Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram.
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