Continuing on yesterday’s NIADA Convention and Expo round table interview, Cars.com’s Joe Bousquet, Kim Smith and John Morris share their tips for independent dealers.

What tips would you give independent dealers for soliciting online reviews and promote their online reputation?

KS: One simple thing I’ve learned is that it’s important to find out how dealers are already sharing the feedback they receive from customers. One dealership I work with loved using “testimonials” on his website, not realizing that Dealer Reviews were close to the same thing. Once we got on the same page, we started a conversation about how the store could use online customer reviews to grow his business.

JB: A lot of independent dealerships are very proud of their website. After working to understand their processes, I encourage dealers to put the Cars.com Dealer Reviews widget on their site. It’s incredibly easy to use and lets customers leave reviews in a quick and simple way. A lot of the dealers I work with are also part of associations, local churches, and community groups. I let them know that they can tap into those networks to build their online reputations.

JM: It’s important to understand how much people really use reviews and how much it can affect their business. How often do you not go to a movie because someone said it was bad or you read a bad review about it? That’s only a $10 purchase. Outside of a home or wedding ring, for some people, a car is the largest purchase some people make – most people are going to want to read reviews about where they’re buying the car from. Reviews can help so many different aspects of the business, like service and title work; they have the potential to help promote every service the dealership provides.

What’s your favorite part about working with independent dealerships?

JB: The thing I love most about working with independent dealers is that my mom is a small business owner, and I know the impact small businesses can have. I’ve been privileged to work with dealers where you can tell what we do on a daily basis is really helping their business – not only by selling cars, but by helping them build their reputation in the local community.

KS: I appreciate their honesty. For a lot of the dealers I work with, their business is their livelihood. It’s a family business that’s been passed down for generations. Sometimes everything they have is invested in the lot, so the commitment is incredible.

JM: I love that I feel like I’m a part of their business. If dealerships don’t have a dedicated internet department, I’m kind of able to be that for them and I feel like I’m really making a difference.

The fun part for me, there was a dealer I started working with who only had three cars and he set a goal for the amount of cars he wanted to move over the next six months. We helped him reach that goal in three months and he’s already got plans to expand his lot. It’s been fun to see him grow.

Be sure to stop by booth #512 at NIADA this week to learn how Cars.com can help reach local shoppers and grow your business.

Have a question for KimJohn or Joe? Send them an email by clicking their name or leave them a message in the comments below!

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