“Kathy Cong went above and beyond, (providing the) best service I have ever received. I would refer this dealership to everyone I know. She was amazing.”
Galpin Honda Customer
Last week in Atlanta, DealerRater announced the winners of its 2016 Dealer of the Year Awards at the CBT Conference & Expo. Given annually to top U.S. and Canadian dealerships, this year’s Awards recognized service excellence based on 610,000 customer experience reviews of nearly 16,000 dealerships posted on DealerRater.com and DealerRater.ca.
Mission Hills, California-based Galpin Honda, the 2016 U.S. DealerRater Dealer of the Year, believes customer reviews are now an important ingredient in the company’s growth recipe and ability to distinguish itself in the hyper-competitive San Fernando Valley marketplace.
“More than ever, consumers look for and trust verified online dealership reviews during critical points in the buying process,” says Jeff Skobin, Marketing Manager at Galpin Honda. “By giving our customers a public forum in which to not only describe their overall buying experience, but to also note how well individual team members met their needs, we have a powerful way to promote the total value Galpin Honda provides.”
Skobin’s comments reflect a consumer-driven transformation occurring throughout the automobile industry. Prospective customers now know more about a dealership than ever before – often long before they ever set foot in a showroom. And increasingly, these same consumers are taking special note of the experience individual sales, service, finance, and back office personnel have provided to other car shoppers in deciding which dealers to consider and ultimately visit.
According to the 2015 BrightLocal Consumer Review Survey, which qualifies the value placed on online reviews, reading verified reviews is a key way that consumers educate themselves about local businesses and their employees.
Ninety-two percent of those surveyed said they now read online reviews, with 40 percent noting that these reviews significantly impact their opinion about a local business. Review “freshness” also matters, according to respondents, with 44 percent saying recent reviews – ideally within a month – are the most relevant. And as Galpin Honda has learned, utilizing online reviews to showcase individual can also pay significant business dividends.
“We cultivate employee reviews and have literally developed a culture around them,” adds Skobin. “We strive to develop and train really great people. On a daily basis, we now have customers coming into our showroom asking for a specific salesperson based simply on their DealerRater profile and reviews. Dealer reviews matter. But increasingly, reviews of individual team members matters just as much if not more. They are helping drive our business.”