Dealer Reviews : The Trust Factor

Dealer Reviews : The Trust Factor
Leanne Kripp is head of Autos at Kijiji

Harness the power of a positive online dealer review.

It’s a matter of trust.” Billy Joel said it in an ‘80s rock song, and it absolutely lies at the heart of the auto purchase transaction. Can I trust this dealer? Am I getting a fair price for the vehicle? Tell me there won’t be any nasty surprises down the road…

These are the questions consumers ask throughout the entire process, because buying a car or truck is a major commitment. For many, it’s the second biggest financial obligation they will undertake, after buying a home. One of the most substantial amounts of money you have committed in the course of your life is on the line. With it often comes a financing commitment that will stretch out over a number of years, as well.

But there’s also the emotional investment: I really love this car. I have decided that I want it. But I don’t want to be taken advantage of in any way. I have made the commitment in my mind to the vehicle—can I feel the same comfort in my commitment to doing business with the dealer?

Technology changes everything

Not too long ago, the answers lay purely in how one felt about the firmness of the handshake, the sparkle of the showroom, and the kick of the tires on the lot. But technology is now the buyer’s friend.

As with so many other transactions in life, online reviews from verified customers are now the leading light in terms of assessing the car buyer’s experience, through the eyes of those who have actually been there, done that.

Today’s auto buyer has already done 10 to 18 hours of online homework before even considering an in-person visit to a dealership. They’ve already researched the make, model and year of vehicle they’re interested in. They’ve watched the YouTube videos. They’ve searched the consumer reports. And they’ve established the price-point they’re willing to pay.

But that final decision point is the single most important one, from the dealer’s perspective. Whose lot will they walk?

One shot to make the sale

Research shows that the average committed vehicle buyer will visit 1.5 to 1.8 dealerships between completing their research and signing the bill of sale. To the dealer, that means you’ve basically got one shot at being that destination of choice.

And proximity isn’t necessarily an issue. Again, for the buyer, this is a major investment and commitment. If need be, they’re willing to make a longer trip to a dealer in whom they have greater confidence.

And that’s where the value of the verified customer review demonstrates its worth. Real people, having bought real vehicles, showing that they are really happy with their dealer experience, are worth their weight in gold. Video reviews from happy customers have the greatest personal resonance with prospective buyers.

That’s why the new digital tools becoming available to dealers are so critically important, as the journey to consideration, and ultimately to purchase, continues to evolve for car buyers.

Mobials.com says 80 percent of potential clients search for reviews on a dealership when researching where they might consider buying a car. Dealers who display online reviews are seeing a 12 percent lift in lead submissions. Shoppers are three times more likely to become buyers when a dealership has a positive online review. Research from Google indicates that search results with a star rating extension get a 17 percent higher click-through rate on average.

Those are compelling data points.

All businesses today must constantly assess every possible asset and potential competitive advantage to ensure they’re being maximized. For many dealers, customer feedback and the tremendous value it holds is being overlooked. Don’t miss harnessing what could be one of your biggest consideration drivers.

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