Consumers increasingly rely on social media and online reviews to select the dealership they want to do business with. Digital Air Strike’s recent 9th Annual Automotive Customer Experience Trends Study shows that 60% of vehicle buyers, and 67% of service customers, selected dealers based solely on online searches and reviews. Additionally, 93% of vehicle buyers, and 87% of service customers, said online review sites helped with their dealership selection process.
Working with thousands of dealers, we know a social following and positive online reputation aren’t established overnight. So, when a dealership is bought or sold, these valuable assets must be considered and included. There is definitely value in a 5-star online reputation and room for negotiation when it’s just a 1-star rating.
If you are on the buy-side of an acquisition, make sure all social network and review site logins and passwords are included in the contract and the transaction, with the ability to change them before the prior owner’s networks are shut down. We help dealers every day who don’t have or can’t find the appropriate login and passwords for their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Business Profile, and many other sites important to their online presence.
When they tried to reset the passwords, the reset message was sent to the old email addresses of a prior owner on an account that had been discontinued. Our experienced team can get this information because we have contacts at all the sites. We also regularly recover dealerships’ logins and passwords due to a general lack of knowledge about page ownership.
Having correct and consistent business information across all your social sites and Google Business Profile is critical. Accurate and uniform business information allows for richer SEO value and the ability for consumers to search and find you easily online. You don’t want the details of your business to be wrong online.
As insurance, buyers should also request that the previous owners not shut down any email addresses until they reset the logins to these crucial accounts. Buyers should also ask for all information about Google Analytics and the logins for that account.
Before the sale is even final, the purchaser should request that a social media policy be implemented for current employees. This will help ensure that any negative comments about a potential sale are kept offline. It’s an essential practice that all businesses have a social media policy that provides guidelines of what can and can’t be shared online – even on an employee’s personal page. This practice is even more important during the sale of a business.
Additionally, if the business you’re buying has an abysmal social and online reputation, you may just want to start from scratch. That includes changing both the name and the physical address of your dealership. Most dealerships are big enough to allow for a change from, for example, 100 E. Main Street to 102 E. Main Street. Google doesn’t care about the new ownership. It pays attention to the business address. So, move a little if you need to leave bad reviews behind.
Sometimes no reviews look worse than bad ones, so if a buyer starts from scratch, implement a plan to get new reviews. The best way to do this is to survey your sales and service customers before they leave your store. Make it easy for happy customers to share their positive feedback publicly on top online review sites.
This is also the time to get legitimate likes and followers on your social sites. You shouldn’t buy them, but you can use targeted search and social media ads to reach consumers interested in your business, the vehicles you sell, and even the charities you support.
You should also use social advertising to build a new prospect database and tell local consumers that the dealership management has changed. Social advertising is a low-cost yet highly effective way to target prospects, including those geo-targeted when driving by your store.
Lastly, most dealers today spend time and money on their social media and online reputation and shouldn’t think of these things as “throwaways.” Don’t forget they have value when negotiating a buy/sell. Ensure you have a partner with experience and contacts, like Digital Air Strike, to assist in the transition.
If you’d like a free online social media and reputation analysis of a store you are considering buying or have recently purchased, you can request a complimentary intel report here.