January 24, 2024
5 min read

How To Respond To Online Reviews: A Guide For Car Dealerships

If you own or manage an auto dealership, you already know how important customer service is to your bottom line. What if there was a cost-efficient strategy that your team could start implementing almost immediately to provide better service, and by doing so, both retain and acquire more customers? What if the same strategy could simultaneously boost your local ranking on Google, provide you with numerous marketing opportunities, and save your team hours of valuable time every month?

Responding to online reviews can help your dealership achieve all of these goals, especially when you partner with a review management service designed for car dealerships and auto industry marketing agencies. Read on to learn all about the benefits of managing your reviews, along with tips for writing better responses to them. This guide will also cover review management FAQs for car dealerships, including questions about old reviews, fake reviews, and more.

Why Should Your Automotive Dealership Respond to Reviews from Customers?

Responding to your reviews might seem like it’s just a courtesy, but in fact, it’s an essential pillar of customer service strategies in 2022. Data shows that virtually all consumers — a whopping 98% — “read online reviews for local businesses” to help inform their shopping decisions, with nearly half — 49% — reporting that they trust the content of online reviews “as much as personal recommendations from family and friends.”

Meanwhile, nearly nine out of 10 consumers — 89% — describe themselves as either “‘fairly’ or ‘highly’ likely to use a business that responds to all reviews, positive and negative.” At the same time, 22% of consumers report being “‘not likely at all’ to use businesses that don’t respond to any reviews.”

It’s critical for your business to leverage these trends and ensure that you’re responding to all reviews in a way that aligns with best practices, which we’ll discuss throughout this guide. That’s especially true for businesses in the automotive industry, whose bottom lines are strongly impacted by online reviews. According to a recent survey by BrightLocal, 43% of consumers answered “very important” when asked of the automotive industry, “How important a part do online reviews play in your decision to use these types of businesses?” By comparison, that percentage was lower for most other industries, including legal services (40%), the food and beverage industry (33%), the entertainment industry (16%), and the retail industry (15%).

Responding to reviews, whether positive or negative, shows customers that you value their input and appreciate their time. It also shows them that real employees — not automated chatbots — are there to listen and provide support, which is important for an industry that, let’s face it, has historically struggled with issues around earning consumers’ trust (though the shift toward online sales is starting to reverse that trend).

In addition to all of these points, there are also SEO benefits to responding to reviews, such as improving your local ranking on Google. As you can read more about here, Google support explicitly recommends that you “respond to reviews that users leave about your business” as a strategy to “improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.” Plus, responding to reviews is a great way to mention or promote new initiatives at your business, such as deals or promotions you’re currently running — all while helping to build consumer trust that translates to increased revenue.

How Should Car Dealerships Respond to Positive Reviews?

If you want satisfied customers to stay that way, you need to make sure you engage them — ideally, in a way that feels personalized to their needs. Responding to positive reviews is an easy way to build brand loyalty and capitalize on excitement and enthusiasm about your brand. Whether they’re over the moon about the customer service they received from your salespeople, they’re thrilled about the assistance you provided with financing, or your amazing selection of vehicles blew them away, it’s important to acknowledge positive feedback from your customers — not just focus on putting out fires by dealing with bad reviews.

So what are some strategies and methods for replying to positive reviews of your dealership? Here are a few quick tips our team of response scribes suggests implementing.

  1. Include the reviewer’s name in your response, unless they’re anonymous or have used a nickname.
  2. Be sure to incorporate a specific detail from the review into your response. If the reviewer didn’t leave a comment, you can simply thank them for their rating, welcome them back to your business in the future, and encourage them to reach out if they have any questions or feedback.
  3. Use your response to emphasize the unique value your dealership delivers. For example, you can include a sentence about the ways your customers can save money with you, or take the opportunity to announce new features and services you’re rolling out at the dealership this season.  

If you’d like to explore this topic in further detail, you might be interested in browsing some of the following articles.

  1. 6 auto industry review platforms you need to be monitoring
  2. How and why to personalize your responses to reviews
  3. Tips for responding to 5-star reviews

What About Responding to Negative Reviews?

Responding to negative reviews is usually more difficult than responding to positive reviews, because your business needs to walk the line between taking responsibility for the customer’s poor experience while still representing the brand in a way that conveys professionalism and an overall commitment to excellence. Whether it involves a customer service issue, dissatisfaction with your inventory, or frustration involving an unexpected fee or bill — all common complaints about dealerships and other businesses — here are some quick pointers for responding to bad reviews of your dealership.

  1. Apologize for the reviewer’s disappointing experience, even if you disagree with the basis of the complaint.
  2. Encourage the reviewer to reach out to your team directly so that you can work to improve their future experiences and get the issue resolved.
  3. Provide the reviewer with a phone number and/or email address where they can reach you.
  4. As with positive review responses, you should use the reviewer’s name and make sure you acknowledge a specific detail from their comment. If there is no comment, reiterate your commitment to providing a great experience and encourage them to follow up with your team so that you can learn more.

Want to go in depth with a more detailed look at this topic, or see examples of how to respond? Here are a few articles to get you started.

  1. How to deal with legally sensitive reviews
  2. How to respond to 1-star reviews
  3. Should you censor bad reviews of your business?  
  4. Why your business should embrace negative reviews  

For the latest insights and updates, be sure to follow our newsletter and explore the rest of our blog, which looks at topics ranging from Yelp’s stance against review manipulation to why your Google reviews might be disappearing. For now, let’s look at some frequently asked questions about best review reply practices for dealerships in 2022.

Online Review Response FAQs for Auto Dealerships

Online Review Response FAQs for Auto Dealerships

Q: Do I Have to Respond to Old Reviews of My Dealership?

A: Yes. However, fresh reviews should be your highest priority, particularly those that were received within the past 24 hours. Learn more about strategies for responding to old reviews of your dealership or automotive business.

Q: Is it OK to Pay for 5-Star Ratings and Reviews?

A: No. There are various reasons why it’s a dangerous idea to purchase fake positive reviews (or write and post them yourself). In short, all major review platforms — including Google, Yelp, and Facebook — ban review manipulation, which is seen as a ToS violation. Your business could be penalized by these platforms, resulting in diminished visibility — or worse, investigated and fined by regulatory agencies. Learn more about why you should never pay for 5-star reviews (and whether you even need them).

Q: What if Someone Reviewed My Dealership in Error?

A: Occasionally, mix-ups occur that cause consumers to leave reviews for the wrong business. If someone leaves a positive or negative review of your dealership that seems like it could have been posted in error, the best way to respond is to thank the author for their feedback and direct them to contact your team. If the review is obviously intended for another business, you can follow the tips we shared here.

Q: How Else Can I Get More Reviews?

A: You should never bribe, reward, or incentivize your customers to specifically leave positive ratings and reviews. It is, however, acceptable to ask your customers for their genuine feedback — including the potential for negative comments — provided you obey the ToS on each review platform and ensure your business maintains adequate transparency. Read about how you can ask customers for reviews more successfully, or learn how a review generation service can help you amplify your brand’s online presence.

Q: What if I Don’t Have Time to Respond to Reviews?

A: One strategy is to take advantage of a review response service for automotive dealerships, ensuring that all of your reviews receive custom, on-brand responses within 24 hours — without your in-house team ever having to write a sentence. Increase your efficiency further with a centralized, secure, and easy-to-navigate dashboard that enables you to monitor thousands of reviews from a single location.

Book a Demo of Our Review Reply Service for New and Used Car Dealerships

Shout About Us provides the full suite of review management solutions for automotive dealerships, including generating, monitoring, responding to, and where appropriate, removing reviews of your business. We also provide a listings management service, all backed by 24-hour, US-based customer support.

Discover why thousands of brands trust Shout About Us to help their teams save time, increase revenue, and drive results. Book a demo today.

Emily Homrok

Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than seven years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.


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