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reviews (44)

Yelp and Siri Integration

Did you know Yelp is directly connected to Siri on the iPhone as well as apple maps? Since half of smart phone owners have an iPhone, the effects of Yelp on your business are even greater. Every 5 seconds a call is made to a local business directly from the Yelp platform on iOS, and over 30 percent of all searches on come from a mobile device.

Whenever someone asks Siri to find an “XX business type” near them, Siri automatically pulls up businesses with Yelp reviews attached. If you pull up apple maps and activate your tracking, you can view businesses in your area who all have Yelp reviews automatically attached. It simply cannot be ignored anymore. Yelp has major connections in the area of mobile and online reputation.

So what should you, as a business owner, do? Here’s a checklist:

  • Claim your page! This shows reviewers that you’re interested in their feedback and you are responsive. It also gives your company a little boost in the search engines.

  • Fill out all the details of your business, just like you have on your website.

  • Add photos. This adds a personal touch to the listing.

  • Respond to reviews, negative AND positive. This keeps the “Google Juice” flowing.

  • Run a check-in special and advertise it in your store. This will create more buzz about your business online.

  • Get ACTIVE YELPERS to write reviews for you. If they’re not active (more than one review), their review will most likely get filtered. You need to seek out people who make a habit of leaving reviews for businesses.

Following these guidelines, and identifying active yelpers will boost your business ratings as well as your SEO. It’s very clear that it’s a new age of online reviews and Yelp has staked its claim at the top.

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July 1, 2013



To All Hyundai Dealers:


With pleasure, I announce the launch of Hyundai Customer Reviews powered by SureCritic, a new and innovative program created for your dealership’s Service Department.  Hyundai Motor America designed this web rating and review program for you to leverage customer satisfaction in order to more efficiently market your dealership’s reputation, increase web visibility, and ultimately grow customer retention.


In today’s consumer-driven marketplace, automotive retailers need a web presence.  In fact, your Service Department has one, whether created by you or not.  HMA collaborated with a group of our dealers to create a program that ensures a positive presence with verified reviews from real customers.


Our approach is simple.  Customers complete a four question web survey about their service experience.  Customers can share their review on the social media sites of their choice.  Dealers can address and fix customer complaints before lower ratings post on the web.  Dealers can also share reviews via social media sites.


A six month pilot among 22 dealers produced fantastic results.

·         Ratings averaged 4.7 on a 5-point scale.  All dealers performed at 4.3 or higher.

·         95% of customers would recommend the dealer for service.


The law of averages applies to the web: The more real reviews your dealership receives, the closer your score reflects real performance, which is over 4-stars for most Hyundai dealers.  The many positive reviews overshadow the few negative reviews, but these negative reviews lend credibility to the process.


Hyundai Customer Reviews launches as a voluntary program, and I encourage all dealerships to participate.  Web ratings represent the CSI of the future.  HMA will guide you through the enrollment process and support you through the simple start-up period.


Hyundai Customer Reviews comes at no additional cost to you.  That’s how strong we feel about it.


Watch for a communication from Frank Ferrara, Executive Vice President of Customer Satisfaction, with program details.


Stay humble, stay hungry,

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Strong Review

I'm "that guy." You know, the one who thinks that 4-stars is an amazing review coming from me, the one who hasn't rated anything a 10 out of 10 since my wife's Mediterranean pasta, the guy who wonders why his kid only got an "A" and not an "A+" on a test. There are more of us out there than you think, but there's a benefit to what I call the "conscientious reviewer". You might only get 4 out of 5 stars from us, but we'll write a book and sing your praises.

That's the real key to reviews. It's the words. It's the sentiment. The stars are only important if you don't have them already.

I get discouraged when I see dealers sitting there squeezing every possible five-star review they can get. If you have 300 reviews and a 4.9 average score, you don't need more 5-star reviews. You need more quality reviews. On the surface, most dealers would say that they would want the bottom review more than the top one because it's 5-stars rather than 4. If you think about it from a customer's perspective, they will read and get more out of the top review than the bottom one. It wouldn't even be close.

Some dealers are pushing their sales team to get 5-star reviews. They are even offering spiffs to make it happen. In the example above, the person who acquired the 3-word 5-star review would get the bonus and the person who acquired the well-written, conscientious 4-star review would likely get rebuked for not prompting their customer appropriately. This is a mistake.

Reviews with less than 5 stars get read more than the others. People are waking up to the idea that these review sites are often gamed. They know. They've probably been asked at one time or another to leave a positive review for a business. They do not believe that any business can accumulate 300+ reviews and have them be almost 100% positive. That's not how the world works. As a result, when they visit a review site that's listed on the search under "ABC Motors Reviews" or whatever they type in, they're looking for the reviews that have less than 5-stars.

I'm not suggesting that you should be promoting the concept of getting 4-star reviews. I'm not saying that a 3-star review from a happy customer is better than a 4-star review. All I'm saying is that you should be encouraging your customers to write full reviews. You don't need more 5-star ratings with 3-word reviews. You need more reviews that actually tell the story about their experience. In the example above, the 4-star review will have more of an impact on a buyer's decision than the 5-star review below it. Keep that in mind as we continue the never-ending quest of review acquisition. Focus less on the stars than the sentiment.

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Along with a total revamp of Maps, Google has announced at I/O, the forum and their blog the return to a 5 star review system. You can request an invite to the new Maps here. From their blog post:

Users who opt-in to the new Google Maps will now rate businesses on a scale that ranges from one to five stars. The system maintains the precision of the former 30 point scale while improving the readability and accessibility of the business listings. Your customers will be able to find up-to-date, accurate information on your business faster than ever. As a business owner, you’ll notice that past ratings have been mapped to the five star system.

Here is how the new scores are now calculated:

poor/fair = 2 stars
good = 3 stars
very good = 4 stars
excellent = 5 stars

Some other notes from Google:

  • Users on legacy Maps, mobile (Android + iOS), Google+,, and other properties will continue to see 30 point ratings for several more weeks
    • If a user is opted into the New Google Maps and clicks on a “more reviews” they will be taken to a plus page where they will see the 5 star ratings
    • However, if the same user had just navigated to the page from they would see 30 point scale
    • Note that users just searching on not coming from New Google Maps will continue to see the old results.
  • Google will no longer be asking users to rate on specific dimensions/aspects. For example, for restaurants users will no longer rate the “food”, “decor” and “service”.
    • Google will show just one overall score (they used an algorithm to translate the food/decor/service scores into a blended overall score).

To the dismay of many, Google replaced the yellow stars with the Zagat system in May, 2012 when Google rolled Places pages into Plus. It was clear from August of last year that Google was testing a return to the 5 Star system and they were never removed from local AdWords display.

The current iteration of stars appear to be universally red and it seems that they will roll out to all properties over the next few months. The new “Places” results that were spotted earlier will apparently be the results seen when visited from the new Maps interface.

Original article from Mike Blumenthal

Jerry Hart
Schedule a free demo

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When have I seen 150 dealers and a dozen vendors in one room for 3 straight days so engaged?


Perhaps its Sean Bradley’s commitment to excellence and holding dealers accountable to walk away with action plans from a crowd of unusually focused [Internet Sales 20 Dallas] IS20 members.

Only a handful we’re checking cell phone messages while in session and when you attend the next IS20 you’ll know why; you’re captivated by the content where all the standard institutional auto conference rules and guidelines are smashed.

Instead you get a room full of all star experts and hungry to learn attendees who are captivated by their colleagues, speaking up when any one point or topic needed more explanation or would merit a rebut.

We can thank Sean for his highly conscious efforts to ringmaster a conference where the content was always relevant.  My opinion, IS20 attracts some of the most innovative in the biz, who crave the most up to date practical content that provides the highest return on money and time. 

IS20 is straight legit.

I spoke on a panel about the importance of online reputation. Based on the questions and comments I received from various dealerships, there are some looming problems in the area of managing internet reputation.

For example, Google says on their Conflict of interest page: reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased.  Dealers who are not focused on organically building reviews, and that means anything other than evoking a review from hot links in an email that leads that customer directly to 3rd party review sites may compromise their Google ranking, score and lead to endless hemorrhaging of removed or filtered reviews. Don’t get me wrong; there are all kinds of traditional ways to gently nudge a customer to leave a review soon after leaving the dealership, i.e., handing them a request flyer with where and how to find your dealership review sites and/or instructions for customers who have a gmail or dealerrater account as to how to post a review.

From what I see with our dealer clients, Google has been very kind to dealers that only allow reviews posted from the customer’s I.P.  Yelp, different story. I couldn’t believe how much disdain I heard about Yelp from IS20 members.  Same ol’ complaint I’ve heard from hundreds of business owners; “I accrue lots of positive reviews and when I don’t advertise upon their request, our positive reviews are removed overnight and negative is all that remains.”  My suggestion; endure the pain of filtered reviews and diversify your portfolio of listing sites and offer customers other review sites to post reviews. If you’re comfortable with paying the ransom they indirectly hold dealers hostage to buy, then look forward to 5 fat stars.  Some we’re saying at IS20 the believability of the star rating system on Yelp is disingenuous. Yelp is highly ranked; on the other hand, we know Yellow Pages are the second largest review site behind Google.

If your reputation management strategy and process is not organic, you’re short term gain, if any, will be weak at best. For example, posting reviews on a dealer owned web page may paint a picture of a dealer in more control of their reputation and no longer hostage to the Google and Yelp review removing sledgehammer.  Sounds reasonable, but here’s the problem.  3rd party review sites will rank higher, particularly on mobile, than the dealers review web pages where content is controlled and future buyers can sense manipulation or an inauthentic amount of positive reviews and stars. I still haven’t found a dealer owned customer review page with negative feedback, let alone a negative review with a manager’s response to remedy the complaint. Negative feedback that is managed, influences prospects to trust you and is fuel that can flip a sour customer to a raving advocate who tells everyone they know.  

I applaud dealers who leverage negative and respond on the dealer’s site, however responding to negative on the 3rd party review sites, specifically Google would help lift you’re Google score much more than reviews on the dealer site.  

To the point of short circuiting negative complaints; why would you not capitalize on the moment you follow up via email, offering hot links direct to review sites like Google, and also welcome complaints from customers submitted to the Dealer. This protects your CSI, amongst a hundred other great things.

News Flash! I’m yet to see a disgruntled customer who submits an unsatisfied complaint that will also post on 3rd party sites. Why? They’ve voiced concern to the dealer and will give the dealer a chance to remedy the problem.

What worries me most are the looming problems for dealers, especially those who encourage customers to post an invaluable review on a web page other than Google or other highly ranked 3rd party review sites.  I have found very few customer dealer review web pages that rank on the 1st page of Google when a “dealers name” with the keyword “reviews” is queried.

Every day I hear all the antics dealers use to capture feedback.  One review building tactic that makes me cringe is allowing an outside reputation agency to collect customer feedback who then posts the reviews on behalf of the dealer from an I.P far from the dealership. Even if the agency is in town, the methodology is manipulative and not organic. If you’re not organic then don’t expect Google algorithms to give you the top ranking when your future customers are hunting for the best dealer using local search.

p.s go claim your top review listings before your competition does

Jerry Hart



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Proactively building reviews is a huge part of local search and with Internet Sales 20 Group Dallas right around the corner and reputation management front and center, I'm rolling out the most important indicators that get you more visible in local search.

When you look closer at the Non-Google local search engines such as Yelp,, etc. you will find a significant amount of highly-qualified consumer search traffic. The question is: do you know which data about your dealership will influence how you rank in local search engines?

Each and everyone of the indicators below are the arteries to the heart, that if ignored could form a clot and kill your hopes of dominating on local searches.

There are four categories:

  • Relevancy Indicators
  • Popularity Indicators
  • Distance Indicators
  • Advertiser Value

These are indicators that tend to be directly related to the phrases input into a search interface. These may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised (or not) how many dealerships get these wrong:

Relevancy Indicators

  1. Dealership Name: Dealership names are vital for potential buyers who search for your specific dealership or search for a keyword that is also in your dealer name. Certainly, categories will always be king. You might think it’s a no brainer, but never let potential customers find your dealership name spelled incorrectly. Happens more frequently than you might think.
  2. Dealership Category: Categorization is important because search engines categorize and map keywords. Therefore, it is worthwhile to run some test queries on your keywords.  Be aware of how to target the more granular (aka long tail) categories to enable you to have more chances to show up for these qualified queries. Generally you’re allowed up to five categories. Be clear though. The specialty models of the cars you sell may not be available as a direct category. Therefore, the best practice is to include the brands in your title on your listing (up to two brands), as you may be in danger of spamming your listing directory.    
  3. Dealership Description & Keywords: The right keywords can help increase your visibility for queries. When typing in a query your prospects often see presumptive suggestions of longer tail keywords in the search box. If searching for service repair, search engines will offer suggestions that get quite granular; for example, “factory trained technicians”. Those types of keywords included in your dealership description will make your dealership more findable.  Make sure the relevant suggestions are included in your dealership descriptions.
  4. Enhanced Content is the key to dominating local searches. Images, logos, videos, (what we call enhanced content) will lift your CTR by 2.5 times or 250% more traffic. One major missed opportunity to improve CTR’s is a Featured Message. Yext is a great tool to provide real time updates of your content to your dealership listings.

    For example, use fresh content in your featured message (a 50 character highlighted featured message syndicated from your Yext dashboard)  Dealers are using this space to promote a sale or even get more LIKES on Facebook. Perhaps you share a fact about the dealership and build credibility with a link to the dealer site.
  5. Dealership Services: Services are another form of categorization. I like to think of services as informal categories, kind of like a tag. So, [Auto Dealer] would be a category and [Value Your Trade], [New Vehicles], [Service Repair], etc., would be services.  Make sure you understand the most popular services that you offer and include them in your listing. 
  6. Association With a National or Regional Chain: If your dealership is part of a chain, it’s important that local search engines understand this. Chain store dealership listings often contain inconsistent data that cannot be easily normalized. For example, a site may have three listings with the names [Auto Center], [Auto Center, The], [The Auto Center #234]. They all refer to the same chain. But, if you did a pure dealership name match on [Auto Center], you would get a less than optimal sort order; so, understanding that these listings are associated with a chain helps the search engine consolidate these listings into a single entry.

Popularity Indicators

  1. Click Thru Rates: A listing’s performance, when it appears in results, is an indicator of its potential to satisfy the query. Most sophisticated local search engines reward listings with high CTRs with better rankings. There are plenty of things a dealership can do to improve CTR on a directory, starting with making sure the above Relevancy Indicators are as up-to-date and targeted as possible. Presenting offers along with high-quality images and videos can also increase CTR.
  2. Ratings & Reviews: Get them and get them often. Five stars helps. And, Google and Yelp are not the only places where reviews count. At this point, every major local search engine has a review system.

Distance Indicators

The location of your dealership combined with the location of the searcher is critical to the display of results. Often, the importance of these indicators can vary based on what the user is searching for and what kind of device they are using. I advise you to look for the option of a service area field that allows you to plug in your surrounding zip codes.

  1. Dealership Proximity: How close a dealership is to the searched location.  Depending on the category of the query and dealership density, proximity will matter more or less.
  2. Dealership Service Area: While physical location typically trumps most other location indicators, for dealership categories with wide service areas, proximity is not as important. For example, dealers in less populated rural areas often have large service areas.  So when someone is looking for one, it’s not critical to only show dealerships that are nearby.  In the case of queries that map to large service areas, it’s likely that popularity indicators will help determine if dealerships that are farther away from the searched city show up high.
  3. Web & Mobile Search Radius Customization: Queries from mobile devices typically return results with tighter radii. If your strategy is to rank for mobile queries, you will need to figure out how to improve other data indicators such as reviews, service area, etc., to compensate for the limited range of the results.
  4. Dealership Density: As mentioned above, if there are fewer dealerships in your area competing for a category, you are more likely to show up better, but you will likely be competing against dealerships in a larger service area. Conversely, if there are more dealerships, the competition nearby will be stronger.
  5. Searched Geo: When a user specifies a specific location in their query, it’s usually a indicators that they are prioritizing location; so it’s more likely that the search engine will favor dealerships located in the searched geo in its results. If your potential customers tend to search this way, then you may consider opening locations in multiple cities to account for this.

Advertiser Value

Of course, we’re all in this to make money, so understanding how the advertiser display system on a search engine works, either in your favor or against you, can be helpful.

  1. Advertiser Levels: Typically, sites have different tiers of advertisers, which can affect which queries display the ad and what gets displayed (e.g., logo, like, tagline, video, bold, etc.)
  2. Advertiser Keywords: In cases where advertisers get to pick the keywords to target, it is important for them to understand if these are the right keywords to target. Often times, local search engines can have relatively weak keyword-mapping. If so, your dealership may show up for keywords that you are not targeting (and you get charged for the privilege). Therefore, understanding how the search engine maps keywords can be critical to saving you from wasting ad dollars.
  3. Advertiser Boost: Many search engines offer an organic rankings boost to advertisers as an incentive.
  4. Deals & Coupons: Consumers love coupons. Local search engines love advertisers who offer them.
  5. Listing Quality: This basically gets to the completeness of a listing. If you can outdo your competitors with filling out your listings, you will likely tend to outrank them in the local search engines. This is one of the biggest areas of opportunity. There are millions of listings out there that still have not been claimed and updated. One big yellow pages site told me that only about 10% of their millions of listings had been claimed. So, go out and claim them if you haven’t already, and you could put yourself ahead of the pack.

Jerry HartPresident
925 849 4084

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I've shared this story before but it's worth mentioned again. I was speaking to a client about their social media presence. Well, it was actually their lack of a social media presence. They didn't have a Facebook page, they didn't realize that they had a Twitter account that had been set to Tweet AutoBlog via RSS, and they through that Google+ was a premium service that Google was selling. Don't laugh. This was one of the darkest days of my marketing career.


When I asked why they didn't have a Facebook page at the very least, he said that "they don’t want people to have the ability to talk badly about them on Facebook." After some explaining about how Facebook and social media in general worked, I got down to what was the real root of the problem. He said that he totally understood that they could post on their own Facebook profile without his permission or even knowledge, but if he had a Facebook page and he posted there then he would have to respond.

Exactly. You have to respond. You want to respond. Every customer challenge is an opportunity to shine.


Control the Feedback

Disney. Apple. Amazon. Johnson & Johnson. These are brands that regularly topped the "most loved" companies lists. They do what they can to try to make everyone happy. Despite being at the top of the list, they have haters. Many haters. Thousands, perhaps millions of people have a negative opinion of these loved brands.

Let's look at it locally. There's a Peruvian restaurant close to the office that we go to whenever we want to have a casual lunch. The food is amazing - the Lomo Saltado is the best way to fill up on $10. I took a friend there who loved Peruvian food and he hated it. He even said so on Yelp (granted, the service was uncannily awful that day, but the food didn't impress him either). You simply can't appeal to everyone.

Those who are going to complain about your business will find a way to complain no matter how hard you try to avoid it. The reality in today's uber-connected world is that you can't avoid it and you shouldn't even try. In fact, you should embrace it by allowing as many venues such as Facebook to be the place where you want to hear their complaints.

When people post negative reviews to many of the review sites or tell the story of their experiences on their social media profiles, you often have no recourse. Many of the review sites allow you to reply and you definitely should, but it still goes onto a permanent record. The complaint is logged and you can't take it down. In cases like those, it's extremely important to reply whenever possible with empathy, professionalism, a sincere desire to improve through their feedback, and (whenever applicable) a willingness to make things right for them. It's a best practice to reply to every review, good or bad, but that's another blog post.

Now, imagine if you used your social media, Facebook in particular, as a venue through which people could voice their opinions about your business. Some would say that it would get more exposure that way, particularly if they have a lot of friends, but there's a couple of reasons you'd want it here rather than on review sites. First, you definitely can and should reply to those comments. Using Facebook as a two-way communication tool allows you to shine through the dark moments and highlight the brighter ones.

The second reason is control. When they post a complaint to your Facebook page, you have the ability to control this portion of the conversation. If your reply is thoughtful and satisfactory to the user, awesome! If it starts to turn into an argument or the user becomes offensive, you have the ability to hide it. I do not recommend hiding complaints as a general practice. Take what you can from the feedback and improve your business. Stand behind your product and company and accept criticism with the professionalism and a desire to improve as I mentioned above. Hiding posts is a last resort and should only be used when the complaint turns offensive.

Thankfully, this post does not apply to many. Over the last couple of years there has been a wonderful shift towards the desire to be more open to feedback. It's a necessity with today's quick and easy methods of communication that are available to consumers. If you're still missing the point and choose to do what the image for this blog post implies, I'm not sure what else to say that can help.

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Why Reputation Management Matters: Your Legacy

“The opinions in this blog are mine alone and not the opinions of who I work for”

If that isn’t clear please click here.

Recently I spoke at an “event” in Portland, Oregon. The room was not at capacity, however those that attended were very engaged. One of my co-workers welcomed the small workshop attendees and dived into best practices for website optimization, SEO and SEM. His down to earth approach, humor and Subject Matter Expertise shone brightly that morning in the Washington room at The Red Lion. Using common sense approaches he brought what some would consider a very high level discussion to level that was easily digestible.

After lunch I took the stage. As there were a couple executives from my place of employment there I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. I said “amen” and dove into Reputation Management. There was great discussion from the crowd of best practices, things that worked and what to be careful not to do and who they would recommend their peers stay away from. I was then asked if I really thought if Reputation Management mattered at the end of the day. I took a different approach then I normally do this is what my response was…

One of the most influential speakers, authors and someone who changed my life, Gary Vaynerchuk has said legacy is more valuable than currency. Right now I don’t want you to think about money. Don’t think about selling a car, don’t think about servicing another truck. Think about your children and grandchildren. Think about what they will discover about you online. For the most part, what is put online will be there in some form forever. Think about what they will learn about who you were and the organization you worked for. Taking money out of the equation, what do you want your legacy to be?

I am happy to say this made some people in the room think about what their Reputation meant. What do you want to be known for?

Safe travels.

To see what makes a good review click here

To see the 2 most critical items in reputation management click here

Oh and pardon my errors…I stink at typing:)

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Why am I seeing so many dealers with business listings UNCLAIMED? Reminds me of the old days, circa 1998 and URL’s for the company name we're not claimed. Didn't that suck when you found out the URL was taken by someone or some company much less deserving of that URL. Same with your listing.

I’ve seen what happens to your face when you find out your competitor has claimed your listing. Signing up for a listing is one thing but much more important is CLAIMING your listing. For some this may seem like a no brainer, however based on how many dealers we support for reputation management, I’m shocked at how many have major review listings for their dealer name unclaimed.

Business listings should play a role in your marketing plan because who wants to waste time with promotions that don’t benefit your bottom line. Business directories are a great form of targeted advertising.

Google has some great suggestions you can do to Optimize your listing and lift your Google score to help users find your dealership. The third recommendation is my favorite…..

Include images and videos to help your listing stand out.

Can online directory listings increase my web traffic?

Knowing how many cars and R.O’s are coming from your preferred dealership listings is a reality many are tracking, in terms of where they rank and traffic. I’m really impressed with BDC directors that are aware that Yelp makes it pretty stinking ridiculous in terms of NOT allowing us to know which keyword was used before your vehicle prospect clicks to your Yelp listing, but I digress.

Listing your company and company URL on online review sites and directories not only helps your ROI, but can also help your website appear higher in search results for certain terms. The more quality web pages that you can get your site listed or mentioned in, the more authoritative Google will begin to think your website is. When Google chooses where your webpage will appear in search results, Page Rank (the authority of the webpage) is one of the factors that can significantly increase your chances or being ranked first, or at least on the first page, for a particular search term or phrase.

What does my dealership need to do now?

Claim your unclaimed listings!

It may take some time to find the right mix of directories to advertise your business in. Implement some sort of analytics or tracking system to see which directories are giving you the best return, either in click throughs to your site, in direct revenue, or in call volume. This could include using special tracking campaign links for online directories, or a unique phone numbers or URLs for print ads. Over time, cut the zero- or low-performing directories and re-invest in new ones until you find a good mix of print and online directories that perform well for your dealership.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that listing your company in directories isn’t just a one-time project. It needs to be maintained and your strategies adjusted based on what your competitors are doing, and based on your changing business goals. However, studies are proving the maintaining business directory listings as part of your marketing plan can be a profitable business strategy for your dealership.

I highly recommend ChatMeter and Yext if you need help with managing, optimizing, and monitoring your online listings.

Jerry Hart

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With Google Local, formerly known as Google Places decision makers are scrambling to understand how ORM algorithms will drastically affect SEO rankings and high Google scores. Google says Google Local is “a simple way to discover and share local information.” Sounds like business listing are becoming more social.

In other words Google Local helps people like me who could very well turn the urge to buy a car— “Hey, I want to test drive a car today” —into an afternoon outing: “Perfect, there’s a Cadillac dealer with great reviews just two blocks from here. Let’s go.” It’s integrated into Search, Maps and mobile and available as a new tab in Google+—creating one simple experience across Google.

The new system is definitely much broader than the previous star system, given its larger scale. 17 out of 30 doesn’t sound incredibly great but if you look at the scale, 16-20 represents “good to very good”. 0- 30 is pretty wide range to cover the four individual ratings Google goes by:

3 Excellent
2 Very Good
1 Good
0 Poor to Fair

Google takes the average, and multiplies it by ten to come up with averaged scores featuring Zagat scores and recommendations from people you trust in Google+.

Algorithms are incorporated into all kinds of review sites where your brand is being talked about and Google is measuring a combination of indicators across all published reviews to determine your Score and overall ranking.

Survey results released a few months ago indicate that many of the top ranking factors are directly related to reviews, your top keywords in reviews, including Google measuring what kind of feedback or responses you’re providing to the consumer feedback on review sites.

Here is how a few of them ranked, according to that (out of the top 90):

7. Quantity of Native Google Places Reviews (w/text) (REVIEWS)
18. Product/Service Keywords in Reviews (REVIEWS)
24. Quantity of Third-Party Traditional Reviews (REVIEWS)
26. Location Keywords in Reviews (REVIEWS)
31. Velocity of Native Google Places Reviews (REVIEWS)
34. Quantity of Reviews by Authority Reviewers (e.g.Yelp Elite, Multiple Places Reviewers, etc) (REVIEWS)
46. High Numerical Ratings by Authority Reviewers (e.g.Yelp Elite, Multiple Places Reviewers, etc) (REVIEWS)
49. Overall Velocity of Reviews (Native + Third-Party) (REVIEWS)
50. Quantity of Third-Party Unstructured Reviews (REVIEWS)
52. Quantity of Native Google Places Ratings (no text) (REVIEWS)
53. High Numerical Ratings of Place by Google Users (e.g. 4-5) (REVIEWS)
62. Velocity of Third-Party Reviews (REVIEWS)
69. High Numerical Third-Party Ratings (e.g. 4-5) (REVIEWS)
74. Positive Sentiment in Reviews (REVIEWS)

According to Google, reputation management means interacting, responding to, learning from, and implementing ideas and improvements based on customer feedback. The good news is that feedback is everywhere. I’d take that as a hint from Google that a higher Google score is achieved with a multi pronged approach.

Responding to reviews, creating conversation with customers, understanding the underlying issues, and devising possible solutions.

The importance of a high ranking Google score will be directly related to two different potential benefits:

  1. SEO Influence. The exact algorithm for reviews is not completely clear, but Google says the correlation between a higher number of reviews and higher relevance (sometimes ranking) on search engines is apparent in any search query yielding a local result, not to mention fresh content being crawled by robots.


Therefore, it would make sense to incorporate reputation building avenues (follow up emails, etc) for customers

to share their experience, which can help increase the dealerships online reviews and become a more credible source for both customers and search engines.

2.  Conversion & Purchasing Influence. The second benefit is the relationship between top level results and the likelihood of a user clicking on your dealer name. If your dealership continuously encourages customers to leave reviews (not from the dealerships I.P) and the reviews received are showing your business in a good light, then it is likely that you will rank higher on review results. See the logical equation below for Google
Total reviews + Quality of Reviews = Better Google Ranking (simple version as there are other factors involved)

Better Google Ranking + Management Responses = Higher Trust (good reviews) and therefore Higher Revenue (good reviews at the top of the result page)

Regardless of the ranking of the list above, it does stop and make you think about all the potential factors that could go into your local ranking, and many are certainly worth paying attention to.

Jerry Hart

Schedule a Free Demo
Ask a Question: jerry(at)erepbuilder(dot)com

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While at work I received a text message from a buddy of mine with the new Google Maps App URL. I immediately downloaded the app and began to play around with it.  Currently my cell phone service is Verizon and I have been using VZ Navigator. At only $2.99 a month, it is a great deal for anyone who does not have a navigation system or a vehicle with navigation installed. Google Maps App, being FREE, does the exact same thing so I used that for my ride home from work to test it out. I noticed a few glitches, but with anything new those kind of things are going to happen. The next day I was off and wanted to check out some furniture stores. I typed in the Google Maps app “furniture store” and immediately several local stores came up.

But here is the “GAME CHANGER”…

During my search, it gave me each stores Google Places ranting!! Wow!! I didn’t do any homework before I left the house, and now I didn’t have too! I had all the information during my drive. I was able to see which store had 2 stars and which store had 5 stars. I was able to see who to avoid at each store while in my car, while on my phone driving to the location!

My mind immediately turned to my business, the car business. How many customers are driving to your dealership using this app and notice a terrible review? How many of those same people punch in your competitors store who have a higher ranting through Google and head over there? It is going to happen more times then not.

The majority of buyers in today’s market are Gen X and Gen Y. I, myself am Gen Y. I, myself bypassed a store because of a negative review during my drive to that same exact store.

Google Maps App is going to change the game. It is going to cause customers to detour from their original route and head directly towards a safe place to shop. I did… And I consider myself no different then any other shopper out there.

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Upset Customer

The worlds of public relations and marketing have gone through two major changes in the last decade. The first one came with the mass adoption of the internet as our primary source of information about businesses. The second came a few of years ago when social media became a mainstream method of letting your friends, family, and often the rest of the world know how you feel about a business. Today, there is no shortage of ways that people can voice their pleasure and displeasure with the various companies with which they do business.

Let’s start by making the distinction between the two disciplines. Everyone has an understanding about marketing. It’s simple. You do what you can to get your business and brand in front of as many people as possible and you get your message (in the form of products, services, differentiators, etc) out so that people will consider you when they’re ready for what you have to offer. Public relations often gets lumped in as a form of marketing because the basic concepts are the same, but it’s very different. Modern public relations in the social world is now a way to preserve your positive messages and diffuse the negative ones, particularly when they come from consumers.

This distinction is important because many still lump the two together when in reality they need to attack from completely different angles. At times, such as with online reviews, the goals are only loosely related. From a marketing perspective, negative reviews can be a major hindrance (at least in the eyes of the business). From a PR perspective, negative reviews are your opportunity to shine. I learned a lot about this during a discussion at the last Internet Sales 20 Group conference from Ralph Paglia.


People Hunt Down the Negative Reviews

Think about your own actions. When you look up a restaurant, a movie, or a home repair contractor, you may or may not be the type that checks out reviews. More and more people are relying on reviews every day (not in small part due to the way that Google is highlighting them in search). Some read them. Most will scan down on the page until they get to the negative ones. They aren’t checking reviews to see the positive ones. They want dirt. They want to know about the worse-case scenarios they might be walking into if they do business with you.

Some estimate that 40% of online reviews are fake. I know that in the automotive industry, the majority of dealers who have more than 50 likely solicited many of the reviews from happy customers. It’s a best practice. After all, it’s great for marketing. In essence, it’s a defensive marketing posture that shows customers seeing just the stars and number of reviews on Google that you’re respected in the community.

The PR opportunity lies in the negative reviews. Those who are really interested in doing business with you will scroll down until they find the bad reviews. They will read them and then look to see how you responded to the review. Were you defensive? Were you a pushover? Did you fix the problem if it could be fixed? Did you empathize?

How you respond to negative reviews is a tremendous opportunity to tell those interested in doing business with you what kind of company you really are.


Show Your Stuff

The moment a negative review is posted, you should respond quickly. Notice that I did not say “immediately”. Speed is important, but it’s not as important as posting the exact right message.

Investigate the concerns that were voiced in the review. As A.J. Maida posted on ADM, there’s a great chance that whichever employee worked with the cusotmer will remember the experience once they read it. Get your side of the story ready, then be prepared to not tell it. This is the hardest part about responding to negative reviews. We want to tell people that they were at fault as well. We want to make sure the rest of the world knows that the person posting the negative review was unreasonable, on drugs, or absolutely insane. This is, of course, the wrong course of action, but it’s important to know your side of the story so you can craft your response properly.

Once you know what happened, it’s time to empathize. This is challenging as well because we have instantly negative feelings towards anyone bashing us, but take yourself out of business mode and into the shoes of the reviewer. They wouldn’t have written a review unless they felt they were wronged in some way (yes, occasionally there are those who want to try to con something out of you, but these are much more rare than most businesses are willing to admit). Right or wrong, you must empathize with them to help correct the situation. Even if the situation in uncorrectable, it’s important to make a public effort to fix things, apologize, educate (humbly), or otherwise step up and accept responsibility even if you don’t think it was your fault.

Here are some keys to crafting the response:

  • This is important. There are times when accepting responsibility is hard. They may have been completely at fault, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t your responsibility to help them not be at fault.
  • Try to rectify the situation whenever possible from up top. Get the highest-level person available to talk to the reviewer in person or on the phone and offer to discuss it further. It could be the owner, the general manager, or someone else with a strong title, but make sure it’s someone with a title that demands respect. Even if it’s the owner who says, “I’ve instructed the service manager, Shelly, to take personal care of you when you come in,” that’s better than getting a reply from Shelly (no offense, Shelly).
  • Use the opportunity to express something positive about your business. “It isn’t often that we get complaints about recall work. Our technicians carry the highest customer service ratings of any Chevy dealership in the tri-state area.”
  • Don’t give stuff away. This is a big, big no-no. Gift Certificates, free oil changes, etc – keep those off of your review responses. You can offer it to them when you talk to them in person or on thephone, but the last thing you want is to make yourself a target by posting it in the response. “Oh, if you complain, Bob’s Deli will give you a free sandwich!”
  • Keep on the high ground, even if the reviews are insulting. Stay classy.
  • Don’t sound too sophisticated. It comes across as insincere if you use big words to try to seem superior to the reviewer. Speak naturally as if you were talking to them in person.
  • Run the response passed a couple of people before posting. Get some input and make sure that what you’re trying to say and how you’re trying to say it is coming across properly.
  • Post a follow-up response if you’re able to come to a positive outcome with the customer. Talk is cheap. If you can post something like, “Thank you, Bob, for coming by the dealership today. I’m so glad we were able to sort through the initial misunderstanding – enjoy your new Camry!”
  • Read responses from everywhere whenever possible. Check your competitors. Check other industries. Get a feel for what’s working and what’s not working by seeing what others are doing right and what they’re doing wrong. You can learn more from real-life experiences than you’ll ever learn from blog post.


Reiterating the Importance

There aren’t enough words in my fingers to stress how important this is. Responding to negative reviews is an art and a science, but it can have a dramatic impact on your business whether you do it right or do it wrong. What type of impact will your negative review responses have?

As I said before, this is your opportunity to shine. A great response to a negative review will reach more eyeballs than a dozen positive reviews.

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I am BEYOND proud of John Hinderer Honda and their AWESOME Business Development Center!!

And ESPECIALLY Rob Stewart. Rob is a new employee at the dealership (less than 4 months). He had no prior automotive sales experience. This man made almost 3,000 phone calls himself, he followed the Dealer Synergy process EXACTLY and POOF! He is responsible for almost 80 units getting delivered LAST MONTH!
I have been in Automotive Internet Sales for almost 14 years and have to say, that Rob has one of the BEST performances and success that I have EVER seen.

As you can see in the gotomeeting interview, he is simple... he works his plan, he works his pay plan. He does NOT make excuses, he does not take short cuts. On the contrary, he works hard, he works consistently and he works strategically.

The result is:

  • 2,892 phone calls made
  • 640 connections
  • 201 appointments
  • 134 appointments showed
  • 76 units delivered

October 2012, was the BEST month ever for the John Hinderer Honda BDC...

They delivered 142 units out of the Internet Sales Department and MORE than 50% came from 1 BDC Rep!

Any question...?

Please feel free to comment, email or call me.

Lets sell some cars!


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The Internet Sales 20 Group

Recently the Internet Sales 20 Group just concluded in Downtown Chicago and it was a huge success! It wasn’t just a “regular” workshop or convention. It was set up like a traditional “20 Group”, including a full blown benchmark composite. The first 20 different dealerships that signed up for the Internet Sales 20 Group were thoroughly analyzed in 7 Key Performance Indicators “KPIs”…

  1. Two different  “Mystery Shop” phone calls that were recorded and graded (Executed by Dealer Synergy)
  2. Complete analysis of their Social Media penetration and relevancy (Executed by Social Dealer)
  3. Complete analysis of their online reputation (executed by Social Dealer)
  4. Deep analysis of their SERP reports, Search Engine Optimization Standings (executed by Car-Mercial)
  5. Complete 3rd Party Lead opportunities within a 10 and 25 mile radius (executed by Dealix)
  6. Complete Website effectiveness analysis (executed by Dealer Synergy)
  7. Complete Market Rater Reports (executed by Rich Dealers)

All this data was extracted or created without any assistance of the dealer(s). Once all of this data was created it was put into composite form, which means that the Dealerships’ names were removed and replaced with a dealership “ID Code”. This was to protect the identity of the individual dealerships and respect their privacy in public. Then the dealerships were “ranked” in numerical order based on the very best at the top of the composite list and the weakest at the bottom. This makes it very easy for the members to see what is “good” and what is “poor” and more importantly where they stack up against their peers.

So when the workshop opened up, everyone received a yellow legal envelope sealed with a gold “Internet Sales 20 Group Seal” and inside was an actual composite. If you were one of the dealerships analyzed, you would have additional content in your envelope. Basically an additional 50+ pages of the composite breakdown.

The very first part of the Internet Sales 20 Group was a Dealer Principal and Orlando Fuller from Dealer Synergy explaining exactly what an Internet Sales 20 Group composite was, how do you read one, where the data comes from and when you get back to your dealerships, where you can extract that data yourself.  Then for about 2 and half hours the Internet Sales 20 Group reviewed each part of the composite, almost like “question starters”. Once we reviewed a particular section, we would have incredible interaction with the audience and remember the audience was a majority of Dealer Principals, GMs and high level Internet / BC Directors. So, the interaction was powerful and strategic.  For example when we reviewed the section on online reputation, it spurred into this major section on EVERYTHING “Dealership Online Reputation”. Ralph Paglia and JD Rucker were amazing subject matter experts and kept the audience captivated with best practices, ideas and strategies for maximizing dealership online reputation.

Susan givens gave a powerful presentation on “AutoSuccess Dealership Best Practices” Including in her presentation were case studies and examples from some of the top dealerships in the country. Susan was very unique because she comes from a neutral position. She gets feedback from both dealers and dealer vendors. People were taking pages of notes during her presentation.

What was crazy was that was only the first day! After the day came to a close, everyone met downstairs of the Chicago Hilton and awaited the caravan of 14 passenger limos, courtesy of Car Ad Guys  that took everyone to the Ultra VIP party, courtesy of Reach Local at the “Carnivale Chicago”. The group was met by fire breathers and dancers outside the Carnivale that performed just for them. And inside their were other “Carnivale” entertainment… They had people lying on a bed of nails and some of the Internet Sales 20 Group members were able to stand on the chest of the guy laying on the bed of nails lol! The food and ambiance was utterly fabulous but the night got even better when we hosted the “Best Idea” contest. We started with almost 60 “Best Ideas”, the judges narrowed it down to the final 5 and then the audience voted (like X Factor or American Idol style) for the “Best Idea”. Mr. Ben Heath from Clift Buick GMC won the $1,000 Cash prize, courtesy of Helion. Ben’s idea was called “Perfect Match”.

I can not possible go over the entire hugely successful Internet Sales 20 Group in one article, so I decided to give a first day overview. Next article I will break down the rest of the Internet Sales 20 Group with actual details and strategies learned at the 20 Group.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email me.

Thank you-

Here are some videos from the event:
Ralph Paglia was a Speaker at the Internet Sales 20 Group


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