You are your reputation… at least, almost by definition, you are in the eyes of your customers and potential customers.

The Local Consumer Review Survey, conducted by BrightLocal last December, revealed just how important a business’s reputation is. We’ve always known that word of mouth and friends’ recommendations are the best free marketing a business can buy, but the study found that consumers trust the word of strangers too.

Key findings:

  • 90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year, with 33% looking every day
  • 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54-year-olds saying they ‘always’ read reviews (93% of 35-54-year-olds)
  • Positive reviews make 91% of consumers more likely to use a business, while 82% will be put off by negative reviews
  • The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business
  • Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars
    The average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision
  • Among consumers that read reviews, 97% read businesses’ responses to reviews

“The number of consumers writing reviews is growing, with two-thirds of consumers now having written reviews for local businesses, and the average reviewer writing 9 reviews in 2019,” the report said.

“While consumers report being more likely to write a review for a positive experience than a negative one, businesses can still make a real difference by remembering to ask consumers to leave feedback on the sites that matter.”

The survey also found that the “automotive” industry received the seventh-most online reviews, and “car dealerships” was 10th, so you better believe your reputation is important.

How you feel about your dealership is one thing, and you know how you want it appear to others. But how they experience or perceive it doesn’t necessarily marry up with your expectations.

Consumers don’t wait until they know everything about a business to decide whether to engage with it, or even ensure the information they do have is accurate. They use whatever is readily available to them to make a decision, namely your reputation.

Your reputation is in your website, your social media, customer reviews, your showroom, service department, and your staff.

It radiates out to your target audience, your customers, competitors, community, employees, those who support your business and those who don’t. Your reputation helps you understand how others actually perceive your business, and it can help you stand out from your competitors.

Monitoring Your Reputation

While you build your reputation in order to influence what people think of your dealership, reputation monitoring reflects what they actually are thinking and saying about it. Monitoring your reputation involves keeping a close eye on the various channels people use both to engage with your business, and to engage with others about your business.

Your reputation is less tangible than your stock, service department, or brand, but just as important. You are your reputation. People will decide whether to engage with you based on it. So make it a good one.

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