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After speaking with my peeps at Google here in the San Francisco Bay Area, a tsunami wave of reality is on its way to the auto industry shores.

If you want to use an IPad in the dealership to generate reviews, reconsider. Is that truly the more candid and truthful approach to building reviews? I’ve heard some instances where the sales rep is coaching the customer over their shoulder while the customer submits to a 3rd party review site from the IPad?

Google’s algorithms frown on customer reviews posted from the same IP day after day and consider this not “validated content”. Use an IPad from the same IP day after day and your SEO ranking will be compromised and consumer alerts potentially slapped temporarily on your 3rd party review accounts.

Their is a wave of consumer sentiment that will revolutionize dealership Online Reputation Management current practices. Here’s what I mean…

You want accurate reviews or validated content. Consumers are beginning to sniff out reviews that are veneer and fabricated and even worse, do not publish at the moment the consumer clicks to publish. I know I'm skeptical when my negative review is not published when I click submit. Validated means reviews on a 3rd party review site that are controlled by the consumer with no publishing delays or mediation time for the dealer to filter, alter or delete the reviews. For negative reviews we see that once posted, a manager response was later visible with the original consumer review unchanged.

The public has already begun shouting how a dealership in their community has manipulated the public and do not have their best interest at heart.  The majority of ORM tools today with the right sized payment of cash to the OEM, allow dealerships to manipulate and filter reviews. Essentially dealers are not being transparent and truthful when they delay, embellish, alter, filter, and delete reviews or simply not publish at the time the consumer clicked ‘submit’. 

When are America’s dealership decision makers going to face the brutal reality that the public will defeat the sly dishonesty of review practices used by dealers to protect the dealership interests, not the customer? The public is becoming more suspect and are onto the scent that the company that they wanted to buy from has manipulated the process of getting positive reviews and have altered their dissatisfaction with that respective brand.

Did we forget the stigma our industry faces with public perception of dealerships as crooks? Are we perpetuating the stigma of car dealers who bait and switch for profit propelling the stereotype that the auto industry is dishonest?

The Dealership Site Reviews
Consumers will not completely rule out a dealer site as not credible, perhaps only if all the testimonials and reviews are positive.  I’m just saying, some dealerships are only populating positive reviews with 0 negative. This is hardly believable, and extremely out of touch with what consumers will start demanding of dealerships they want to buy from in the future. The trend of consumer sentiment will continue to ostracize the dealers that project anything inauthentic. The public demands and respects what their peers say about a dealer much more than a dealer’s website review page or a review site that’s littered with manipulated reviews.

The same concept applies to the American media today.  Tomorrow at the Thanksgiving table, Uncle John’s opinion will be much more believable than any article I can read in the Wall Street Journal. In a world where small is big, respected bloggers, relatives and friends are more of an authority than the wavering media establishment.  In this analogy, the dealerships website is the Wall Street Journal.

When a consumer viral truth telling explosion online happens, expect a paradigm shift. Just like any other wave of consumers that force the hand of an industry to be honest and stop altering reviews to get a higher rating; this will be no different. 

As we prepare for the shift, are you building REAL reviews?  Is the customers IP the safest most SEO compliant place to ask for a review? Yes!.

Are you emailing a follow up message with options to either post positive or share their complaint directly with you?

Are you willing to ask the question everyday via email and then fix what's broken at the dealership?

Do you own deep down in your gut that the most powerful brand loyalty building tool is your response to negative whether one on one or on 3rd party review sites for all to see?

When a customer complains, isn't this benefiting the dealership to improve quality assurance AND securing employees that exceed expectations and over deliver? The winning sales performers will squeeze out slackers that think they can hide behind their half-'assed customer service.

You can't body block cranky customers from posting negative reviews or alter them. You have one special moment to intercept unsatisfied customers before days pass and they start banging on their keypad to diss your brand across the web. You can respond for all to see but why not stop it to fix it at the pass shortly after they made a visit to the dealer? Your customer survey is surely OK, but no where near how effective you could be with the option to have complaints heard by you first or in that very moment, if happy, a positive review published from the customers IP.

Start asking for feedback and encourage a customer to post a review from an automated organic drip” email following the customer purchase from the customers IP.  Will you ever know for sure all of the rules of ORM? Don't think so, but you can count on a review building conduit that deters manipulation and propels radical transparency.

Jerry Hart


Ask a Question: jerry(at)erepbuilder(dot)com
For more information, visit

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I asked General Managers and Internet/BDC Directors at Digital Dealer, why Online Reputation Management is on the front burner for 2013.

Response I wanted to hear more and did not:

Google’s algorithms are aggressively measuring the amount and authenticity of positive and negative reviews, impacting your overall SEO score with Google. Online reviews appear with every Google search.
I need a solution PRONTO!

Common Responses:

1) Our reputation is everything and my competition seems to be doing better in the online review internet game.

2) With Siri and Yelp in bed together the stakes are even higher to get moving.

3) I need a solution to generate more reviews on a regular basis and be proactive at catching unhappy customers before they post a poor review.

4) We don’t have a plan to get to the source of the problem of what’s going on that’s generating those bad reviews.


1) ORM algorithms will drastically affect your SEO rankings.

2) Businesses who want to win in the search results will encourage customers authentically to post fresh feedback to their preferred reviews sites on a regular basis.

3) ORM will shift the dealership’s operational culture in terms of the increased volume of handling unsatisfied customers by rectifying the situation with those affected, making certain that the customer service or product failings that generated them are fixed.

4) Dealerships with no online reviews or only negative may be losing valuable customers.
You have the option to automate ORM by pulling closed R.O’s and closed sales from the DMS.

5) Automated emails that offer options to post positive or complain directly to you is fully integrated, simplified and compliant with blacklisting rules.

6) Steer the Conversation and reply to negative posts and interact with reviewers to create a more positive brand image. You’re more believable when you make an effort to understand and respond to unhappy customers.

7) If your business has no online reviews or only has negative reviews, then you may be losing valuable customers.

eReputationBUILDER adds juice to your SEO ranking by making sure that the positive reviews and constructive feedback shows up when our clients are searched, and that the false and inflammatory comments are suppressed in searches so no one can find them.

We automate ORM, pulling closed R.O’s and closed sales from the DMS everynight sending a video email that encourages positive reviews with active links to highly ranked review sites and intercepts complaints. 

Jerry Hart

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Look at all the conversation online about you and your dealership. That point alone reiterates to all of us that dealerships don’t necessarily own their brand. The consumer owns the brand.  Monitoring online comments helps us understand the consumer perception of our brand and, if necessary, make changes to our communications efforts.

There are proactive measures that you should take BEFORE a negative review is posted about your dealership. Not only do you need to constantly encourage your customers to post positive reviews about the dealership, you need to ensure that each customer was completely satisfied with their experience.

The dealerships who proactively short circuits negative reviews and encourages positive reviews shortly after the customer visits the dealership won't have to worry down the road why they waited to long to come to us.

Schedule an eReputationBUILDER Demo

It's only when it becomes a real issue and starts costing companies in lost sales and damaging their reputation do they normally come to us. It's much easier and cheaper if you come to us before issues arise, taking a preventive measure will help not only protect your brand but also stop unscrupulous competitors taking your space or even worse, getting negative content high up in the search results.

Make or Break time for dealerships

With the proliferation of user-generated content online, the online reputation of businesses are being tarnished by incorrect and misleading posts or comments that can stay on the Internet forever. One post by a disgruntled employee or unhappy customer can have a damaging effect on your company’s image, as well as sales.

The thing to keep in mind is that online reputation management is one of those things that works better if you implement it before you actually need it.

Did you know….
• 62% of consumers surveyed said they would change their mind after reading 1-3 negative reviews about a product or service.***

• Dealerships are expected to spend $100 million on tech tools or platforms to monitor customer opinions on the Web over the next year, more than double the spending in the past 12 months, according to BIA/Kelsey, a Chantilly, Va., media-research firm.

• YELP! About 27 million user-generated reviews were posted on the site between January and March, up 59% from the same period a year earlier, according to Yelp’s most recent quarterly report.

• Google says on its official blog that businesses can reduce the visibility of negative content about them by “proactively publishing useful, positive information.”

By Jerry Hart

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Automotive Dealers Need to Pay Attention to The World Around Them in Regards to Power of Online Reputation... Even Midas Gets It.

I Just saw this commercial on CNN a couple of minutes ago and it is EXACTLY the TYPE of Commercial that Auto Dealers should be doing on TV and online...

It seems that someone at Midas has been paying attention to Google's ZMOT Philosophy. People are talking about things they like and do not like on social media, on cell phones via a myriad of apps and sites. Dealers need to embrace this culture and reality.

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