Before the dawn of the internet, reputation management was handled primarily through
press releases and advertising that targeted mass media channels. That has since changed
and reputation management services will increasingly dictate a company’s chance
to prosper. One of the industries influenced the most by slanderous comments, and
therefore the industry that necessitates the need for reputation management the most, is
the automobile and car dealership industry.
With the inception of Web 2.0, automotive reputation management has become more
important than ever. Customers have a multitude of outlets in which to express their
opinions. Blogs allow people to voice either praise or concern over purchases in detail
and customer reviews can be found with relative ease. Unfortunately, given the nature
of the business many of the reviews are planted by rival companies looking to deface the
competition in an attempt to raise the value of their own brand.
Car dealerships can partially counteract unjust slandering by taking measures to reinforce
their own reputation. Companies like Lexus and Honda do this by ranking high on
power reports year after year, but other companies may not have that luxury and one less
than perfect car model can have long standing residual effects on their brand integrity.
There is no better way to reinforce one’s reputation than by producing quality cars
and by employing outstanding service providers, but even the finest companies are not
completely safe from disparagement in the internet age.
The perception of an automobile maker’s image has far reaching effects. Car salesmen
are the physical representation of the dealership. Salesmen who encourage customers to
review their experience online represent their dealership far better than those who don’t
and typically those dealerships see increases in the amount of calls stemming from online
reviews. Also consider the way that Google handles search engine results for a particular
region. Searches will return all the dealerships in the area grouped by a star rating. The
importance of that star rating is monumental as it serves as a first line evaluation by
impressionable customers. If local Toyota dealerships are typically being listed at 4 stars
or more, why would anyone even consider a 3 star dealership?
Google also orders auto dealerships based on user experience meaning that the companies
with the most positive reviews are going to get priority in search engine rankings.
Without encouragement from the dealership and automotive reputation management,
companies will only be hurting themselves as they are eventually pushed off the first
page of results and eventually into obscurity. The adverse effects this will have on a
dealership’s revenue are fairly obvious.
The effects of negative customer reviews, however legitimate or illegitimate they may
be, are potentially devastating. Over 85% of customers are influenced by online reviews,
and they are also more highly affected by reviews than marketing or promotions. For
instance, customer reviews have more immediate impact on a prospective buyer’s
opinion than a press release from the General Manger of the car company. Also, most
customers rarely look past the first page of results where conducting an online search.
This is where the need for automotive reputation management comes in as a means to
negate or reverse the harmful effects caused by negative reviews that cannot be nullified
by dealership encouragement alone.
Some car dealerships are realizing the important of creating an Internet Reputation
Management (IRM) program where the primary goal of employees would be to protect
their company’s brand. However, many dealerships rely on an outside firm to handle
their reputation management. There is great value in hiring an outside firm as they are
trained professionals in the field and their costs are well worth the potential revenue gains
a car dealership should see in the long term given a more positive image.
If a dealership is relatively new and unnoticed, having not received many customer
reviews, reputation management firms work by building up the company’s image in the
form of positive reviews. Just a dozen or more reviews a month are enough to cast the
dealership in a positive light. It also serves as a balancing act, lessening the blow when a
negative review is written by a rival company or disgruntled customer.
Companies that are more established yet who have fallen victim to negativity face a
more interesting challenge for reputation management firms. The primary goal now
becomes removing negative reviews and publishing positive reviews not only on 3rd party
customer review sites but on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter as well.
This helps to increase site traffic as well as encourage customers to give a particular
dealership a second look.
In addition to cleaning up a dealership’s past an automotive reputation management
company works to help build a better future. Unfair slandering by competitors has
become a huge problem for car dealerships and it is only fair that the company being
attacked have a chance to identify their aggressors. Reputation management firms use
algorithms to find and stop the attackers.
A good reputation management firm will always keep their customers in the loop.
Clients will be able to track their progress on a month to month basis, which allows them
to see how the positive effects of their prospering image have on their overall revenue.
Emergencies are handled by an alert system that tells dealerships when a negative
comment or post has been written about their company. Instead of being in the dark
these dealerships will know in real time when an attack is being made and can react
In this day and age, automotive reputation management is nearly synonymous with brand
protection. Before the internet existed if a competitor told all the local newspapers that
a rival dealership was a sham, surely the rival dealership would defend their integrity.
Although the game has evolved and negativity has more far reaching ramifications,
the fundamental necessity of brand protection has not and automotive reputation
management is designed to help car dealerships maintain or restore a positive image in
order to increase sales and revenue.
Whether your a car dealer, dealership owner, or somebody who is in the automotive industry Profile Defenders can clean up your image online with our powerful software and services. Get a free quote today to get started.