Best PracticesIndustry News & Trends

Don’t Play Catfish With Your Customers

For those of us active on social media, one of the creepiest and cringe-worthy movies about online communities has got to be Catfish. If you’ve yet to see it, or the television show it spun, it is about a relationship that formed online between two people.  Unfortunately, one of those people was not as they seem.

Suffice it to say, one person was being untruthful about who they were, what they looked like, and everything else, in order to gain favor with another. As dealers look for new ways to attract customers’ attention, and convert shoppers to inquiries, we see many over-selling who they really are online.

I consider this playing Catfish with your customers…

Dealers play Catfish by claiming to be something they are not.  For instance, making exaggerated boasts about “top-rated dealer in the area” or “best deals in town” are Catfish tactics.  If it cannot be quantified or justified, it rarely should be said.  At the same time, dealers need to stop making promises they can’t live up to.  If you have a Get ePrice button to generate Internet leads from your inventory, and your sales team is instructed to not give pricing out right away when responding, then that is playing Catfish.

“Largest Inventory”…”best car buying experience”…”where you save more”… “Get Approved” are all nothing more than garbage marketing chants unless it is truly a value proposition and offer that you stand by.  Do you provide pricing if someone clicks on a button for that?  Do you give them answers to their credit approval submittal immediately if they have chosen that point of entry?  Do your people live up to the brand messages you’re blasting through media?

If not, you’re playing Catfish, and customers’ faith in you (as well as in your advertising and employees) will quickly diminish.  Customers would prefer to have acceptable experiences based on realistic expectations than negative experiences from unrealistic expectations.   Telling the truth, setting realistic expectations, and offering upfront, transparent communication is a key to building trust. Earning trust should be a major focus going forward for any corporation, which is why I’ve made it my session title (and rallying cry) for the Dealer ThinkTank workshops occurring around the nation in 2014.  Be online what you are in real life.  You’ll thank yourself later.


Do you feel that your dealership plays Catfish?


Marketing consultant & process leader, specializing in automotive. I'm also a writer, speaker, movie buff, and Dad. --President of DealerKnows--