Do you really know what Google ‘thinks’ of you? As the operator, managing partner, managing director and more recently sole trader of small, medium and large businesses, I’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars, and thousands of hours of my own time to achieve a listing on the first page of Google. Google is after all the pre-eminent search engine on the planet. And you’ve probably been spammed by thousands if not tens of thousands of individuals, and companies promising that they’ll get you on that important page. Some of you may have followed these spammers and achieved the same outcome – nothing. Online Reputation is the singular must have.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is another way to get customers visiting your site, but it takes a lot of work and knowledge. For my own sites, www.carbusiness.com.au and www.thecarguy.com.au I write at least 4 or 5 articles a week. Most of them are over 1000 words and contain relevant information for people searching the net. But typically I’m not getting thousands of visits a month. If I needed to depend on this to get traffic to my business, I’d be out of business.
But three years ago, I ‘discovered’ or probably began to understand what it takes to get to the first page of Google and it was easier than you think. And it’s not investing more money, certainly not gaming Googles system and black hat techniques. It’s all about honesty, transparency and the most important factor of all – taking care of your customer. Online reputation improves customer enquiry absolutely.
Google is all about providing information to people who are searching for an answer. Google’s primary goal is to provide that information as accurately and more importantly locally as possible. If I’m sitting in my office at Kippa-Ring in Queensland looking for an office stationary provider, I don’t want to be provided with businesses at Springwood or Ipswich. If that’s the search I’m doing, I want businesses that are local to me.
And yes, when I search, I’m also provided with up to 4 Adwords listings where companies buy the opportunity to list on the first page of the Google I’m doing. If I was at Springwood or Ipswich, Google will still serve me the 4 AdWords ads, but they will also serve me with organic listings for the Office Products suppliers closest to me for where I’m sitting. Online reputation is a vital ingredient.
The same applies to car dealers, Again if I’m at Kippa-Ring, but this time searching for a Volkswagen dealer, I’m presented with this search result.
So here we have 3 Volkswagen dealers showing in the snack pack that Google populates in their search results. You’ll notice the paid search ad at the top but again they’re companies that have bought the right to be here. In the snack pack are 3 options for me. The dealers are Keystar Volkswagen (formerly my company Northstar Volkswagen) Mt Gravatt Volkswagen and Austral Volkswagen.
Keystar Volkswagen – When I’m drilling down into their review results, I’d be happy to deal with Keystar. Their reviews, mainly related to the sales department are 5-stars, perhaps some issues in service, but overall pretty damn good.
Norris Motor Group Volkswagen have a couple of recent5-star reviews but then we hit a run of 1-star ratings. Probably not the dealership I’ll want to buy my car from
Austral Volkswagen – I’ve honestly never seen so many 1 star reviews and it seems that it comes from the Service Department. Some good sales reviews but not enough to overcome the overall result – If I was buying a new car, I’d stay away from them.
80% of car buyers change the dealer they’re about to purchase from based on only one negative online reputation review. That’s four out of 5 new prospects going to another dealer or looking at another brand because you didn’t look after that previous customer and establish a great relationship.
And another way to look at the same topic – if your online reputation isn’t five star, the friends, family, and workmates of that dissatisfied customer won’t come to your business – ever. So you’re continually having to mine for new prospects who don’t know about your dealership. I’m sure that you’ve heard the old analogy that it costs 5 times more to get a new prospect than it does to secure a relationship with an existing customer
The average car salesperson, sales manager, and dealer principal work more than 60 hours a week in their business, investing blood sweat and even tears.
As a professional business person or salesperson, you review your results monthly, quarterly and yearly. If your results aren’t improving, why not. And you give yourself reasons stories and excuses why your results aren’t improving. It’s the market, the brand, my boss or just the bloody customers getting more educated.
In your downtime you Google your dealership, just to have a look, no other reason really. What you find is alarming – your Google Star Review score (online reputation) has fallen through the floor. The last time you looked you were in the fours – and that isn’t too bad. If you had three something, you’d just think it was a run of troublesome customers – it’s the service departments fault or someone else.
What you need to do is realize that your culture, process or people, including yourself, are responsible for a poor Google score. Look at the individual responses – all these customers can’t be wrong, can they? A smart manager would get his receptionist or PA to collate the names and numbers of these dissatisfied customers and call them directly. Irrespective of the comment, it’s not too late to reach out to these customers and see if you can recover the relationship. From a customers perspective, all they want is for someone to care enough to solve their problem. Thats what online reputation is all about.
Here are some statistics that should get your attention
• Dealerships with a positive online reputation (reviews) can convert 183% more than dealerships with poor online reputation.
• 88% of customers trust online reputation (reviews) as much as a personal recommendation
• 80% of customers change their mind about buying from a particular dealership based on only one negative review.
• When customers read your online reputation, they’re inclined to keep reading poor reviews and every one they read convinces them to find another dealership to do business with.
So what do these stats mean? If a customer trawls through Google Reviews looking for a business not to visit and your score is poor, you’re not even going to see them. And that’s despite the enormous value of the advertising you do try to attract these prospects to your business.
After all, you can’t advertise and tell these prospects that they shouldn’t read reviews, but if your reviews are poor, you’re wasting your advertising dollars if you can’t back up your dealership with positive customer reviews.
The first thing you need to do is conduct an audit of your online presence. Don’t just check out Google. The best way to find out what your customers are saying is to type the following into your search bar. Here’s one I did earlier.
WOMO 5 reviews with a score of 4 stars
Google Kedron 38 Reviews with 3.1 stars
Google Albion 39 reviews with a score of 4.2 stars
Google Taringa 41 Reviews with a score of 3.9 stars
Snap21/Facebook 1019 reviews with a score of 4.9
True Local 2 reviews with a score of 3 stars
So in a nutshell, there’s ways and ways to improve your Google Star Rating – but it needs to be done with honesty and integrity. Don’t try to game Google – it doesn’t work and they’ll catch you out sooner rather than later. Google My Business can attract countless prospective customers to your business, but these prospective customers will be looking at what your customers have had to say.
I Can Help
If you’re looking for someone to assist you with improving your Google My Business Star score, let me know. I have 2 plans to assist. I can teach you how to go about improving your score, or I can do the doing part for you. Experience tells me that managers and marketing departments are far too busy doing what they do now and it’s better to have an external provider to run the process.It’s not rocket science, but a substantive way to improve the relationship that you have with your customers and prospective customers. Call me on 0418 748 498 or email me at bo********@ca*********.au
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