3 Ways to Destroy Your Dealership Reputation

danger of fake online reviews

Fake online reviews do far more harm than good for dealerships.

Customer reviews are powerful because they are real people talking about real dealership experiences, not advertisements from dealers telling you how great they think they are. On Yelp or Google, consumers expect authentic customer reviews. More importantly, the Federal Trade Commission expects authentic customer reviews. Here are a few bad online reputation practices that could negatively affect your dealership's business:

1. Posting Fake Reviews

The importance of online reputation is no longer a secret to businesses, so many businesses and their employees have tried posting their own phony reviews to boost their ratings and sink their competitors’. In Sept. 2013, this practice of fraudulent reviews caused 19 companies to pay a total of $350,000 in fines.

2. Offering Customers Review Incentives

Under the FTC guidelines, it is illegal to incentivize – also known as bribe – customers to give favorable reviews online unless they explicitly indicate they are paid endorsements. Even when disclosing it is a paid endorsement, it is illegal to make any false, deceptive or misleading claims. What’s more, paid endorsements often violate review sites’ terms and conditions and are promptly filtered or removed.

3. Review Kiosks or iPads in the Dealership

Some business owners and reputation management companies offer kiosks or iPads for consumers to leave genuine, non-incentivized reviews. At first this may seem like a good idea, but on closer inspection, it has negative effects. Yelp and many other review sites have cracked down on reviews posted from the same IP address. This is seen as a red flag to catch scammers using multiple dummy accounts and posting fraudulent reviews from the same computer. When multiple reviews come from the same location, they get filtered or removed. Even worse, the business can get flagged with Consumer Alerts on its page to warn consumers of suspicious activity.

Don’t sabotage your own success in the quest for a good digital reputation. The tried and true way to accumulating positive reviews is by providing good customer experiences, before, during, and after their visit to your dealership.