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Make or break your business with online reviews

By Lauren Labunsky

Word of mouth has always been the best advertising strategy for local businesses. When a customer is raving about your dealership to friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers, you’ve hit the jackpot. People are much more likely to trust a personal recommendation than an advertisement. On the other hand, negative talk about your business can be detrimental. Now that both happy and unhappy customers can easily leave online reviews for your dealership, word of mouth has become a digital reality.

Review platforms like Better Business Bureau, Facebook, and Yelp are simple to access, and customers receive an instant snapshot of your dealership’s reputation by checking these sites. Customers need to be reassured that your dealership is a trustworthy place to purchase from and looking at review sites is the easiest and quickest way to do that. If you have low ratings, negative reviews, or even just a lack of reviews, that can cause harm to the reputation of your business.

If it isn’t already, managing your online reputation should be a top priority. On an ongoing basis, your dealership needs to focus on gaining positive reviews and handling negative ones. Here are three simple steps to take if it’s time for your dealership to get started:

  1. Be sure to claim your business on any and all citation sites. These are any websites that list contact information for your dealership, including social media platforms. Doing this enables customers to find your dealership and leave reviews in the first place
  2. *Talk to customers about how valuable reviews and star ratings are for your business. This will encourage happy customers to help you by sharing their experience – it’s likely that they would not think to do so on their own but are happy to help when prompted.
  3. Respond to every review, positive or negative, as soon as possible. A negative review could be resolved and possibly even removed by the writer if you make an effort to resolve the issue. Often, an unhappy customer just wants to feel that he or she is being heard. Positive reviews deserve recognition and thanks.

Managing online reviews may seem like an added chore, but the reputation of your business is not something to take lightly. Digital word of mouth about your dealership can make or break your business – all a prospect needs to do is search for your dealership on Google to form an opinion about buying from you. Don’t let negative reviews or a lack of reviews prevent any sales for your dealership.

*Yelp’s terms of service prohibit business owners from soliciting reviews. For more information or for assistance in navigating reviews for your business on Yelp, feel free to reach out to Dealer Spike.

Lauren Labunsky is the public relations manager for Dealer Spike, a company that provides innovative websites as well as a suite of powerful online advertising solutions that help marine dealers help increase sales and service profitability. For more information, visit www.DealerSpikeMarine.com or call 800-288-5917.

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