Dealership Marketing and your Dealerships Online Reputation

Guest Posting by Stan Sher

Does your dealer have a complaint on the

Are you monitoring the site to be sure your not listed?
How do you treat your customers?
How did you treat your previous employees?

These are questions that need to be considered when we search for our dealership in Google to monitor our placement. The reason for this is that there are many dealerships that have given previous customers as well as previous employees a very negative experience. These dealerships have rip-off reports filed on  These accusations or statements are easily found on the search engine when you Google the dealership name and are sometimes seen on the first page. As the internet evolves even further, dealership reputation management is becoming more important. There are websites that offer a lot of insight which can be both healthy and/or harmful to your dealership’s reputation. is a website that was created to help consumers to take negative shots at businesses which accordingly did not practice proper business methods when handling these customers. In addition, there are negative reports by some previous employees of some of the companies that can be found on there as well. The problem with this website is that anyone can access it without disclosing their information making it impossible to find out who was responsible for slandering your dealership. This makes it difficult for dealerships to try to make things right with the customer. It has been said in the past that this website was created by an individual that generally despises major businesses. Another problem is that dealerships are not realizing that this website is round and are completely ignoring the damaging effects that the website has on their reputation.

I first found about when my best friend who owns a marketing company showed me three negative reviews that were put up against his business. He took it very lightly and did not care much since he has a lot of loyal employees and he solicits the internet heavily to get people to come work for him.  I later started looking for a new job at one of the most successful Honda dealerships in the country only to find over fifteen rip off reports which come in the goggle search.  This got me curious so I started looking at other dealerships and found some of them on this site. To protect the integrity of these businesses, I will choose not to name any of them in this article.

So how do we handle this problem? We need to start thinking from two perspectives. As a dealership we must tighten up the ways in which we do business.  Consider what you would do to keep strong CSI scores and use those practices in all transactions from sales to service to parts. In other words, do not let your guard down and treat all customers with the respect that they command. We must also start to think like a consumer. This means that we should consider how we ourselves would handle a negative situation if we were a customer. Use these thoughts to fix any problems that you may have had with a customer and to avoid any future problems.

As a consumer, I know that when I search for a dealership I will look at all of the resources that I can find so I learn if I am comfortable doing business there. When I see one these reports I start to look for others and as I find that this dealership has over ten reports filed against them I am very likely to consider my alternatives and go somewhere else to purchase my car or get servicing done to my vehicle.

What does it cost the dealership?

Well it loses business, gross profit, credibility, and causes negative “word of mouth” advertising. I heard of many dealerships that have this problem but no one ever seems to care and ignores it.

How do dealers control this?

Well we monitor our dealer site on a daily basis for starters. Next, we look at how we do business with people and change our practices. We sharpen up our people skills and treat customers right. We do the right things by customers and do not play games with them by lying to them with low ball offers or mistreat them in the business office.  We service them and always ask for the best ratings. Also, when someone quits our dealership we end the relationship on a positive note and make sure they get paid what is owed to them. It might take time and investment of some money. However, the last thing you want is to have negative comments about your dealership when you are trying to bring as many visitors as you can to your web site.

Now, there will be times when you cannot satisfy a customer and you might catch a bad report. This is why the allows you to do a rebuttal and solve a problem to keep your profile on as low as possible. Keep a high profile of positive things about your dealership while keeping a low profile of the negative things and watch your business grow. An example of a website that will help uphold positive reputation management is

About the Author: Stan Sher is an Automotive Industry consultant and Account Manager for RedNumbat

Thanks for your guest post Stan. The RipoffReport has had a lot controversy behind it throughout the years. I have spoken to many other online reputation consultants and all agree that dealing with the RipoffReport is nothing less than a nightmare.

It's really difficult to get a comment removed, bogus or not. Dealers need to do what they can to not get listed on this site.

Here is a great post that will give you some more insight on the ReipoffReport..
The challenge with ripoffreport and other similar sites is that they are so heavily slanted against the Dealer. Any customer can post a negative review whether the facts are true or not.

I am curious as to the mediation measures these sites employ to ensure ACCURATE information. The Better Business Bureau at least allows a response from the affected business before posting a negative review. I have not seen a measure like this implemented on these other sites. Reputation Management IS important but we need to be sure that reputations aren't being impacted negatively without fairness in the equation.

Just my two cents...

I also worked to address a complaint on, and was then "trashed" by another user on that site that happened to be located in Arizona, then another in Nebraska, etc. Considering that these folks are well over a thousand miles from our dealership, it is hard to understand how they have an understanding of what is going on with us... Unfortunately this site seems to focus on folks who have no desire to resolve issues, but rather to start a vendetta against a business they do not like. We work incredibly hard to ensure full customer satisfaction, and take our online reviews seriously, however we have found sites like Dealer Rater and Edmunds to be much more relevant and useful to both car buyers and dealers...
Glen -

You are describing a problem that is obviously tough to control. One of the things we suggest and help our dealers with is mitigation of this problem. Obviously you can mitigate it with improved business practices, etc, but I would say most dealerships already do this and likely arbitrate the inaccurate claims.

Our suggestion is to create a number of additional web properties to dominate your top 10 search results for your dealership. Examples that will show up in your search result are:
- Facebook account
- MySpace
- Twitter
- Blog
- Flickr (or other photo hosting)
- Micro-site
- Press Releases! * * * These will jump into your top 10 results quick! This has worked best/fastest for our stores.
- Blog comments
- Local online yellowpage listings
- Non-profit, charity, or foundation website

Most of these are easy setups and can get quick results, but they also don't guarantee that the reports will move down the list of search results.

  • P
  • January 12, 2009
I am very familiar with If you look further into it, you'll see that it is run by a criminal. Many people have told me that he uses customer complaints to extort dealers/companies. I am not an authority, but if you're company is mentioned on it, look into it. There are no rules, anyone can post anything there.
  • S
    Stan Sher
  • January 12, 2009
Well I know that there is a section for a rebuttal on that site. The problem is that it never gets removed. This site causes more harm to businesses than anything else with regards to reputation management. I think that there has to be a way to get that site shut down especially if it is evident that it is run by a criminal. What has this world come to? We let criminals ruin our reputation online. I agree that it is a great idea to setup multiple profiles and links that will stay at the top of the searches, it is a great idea.
In addition to what Chad added.

If you have multiple layers or content that are updated frequently you can keep the rating sites out of the searches for your name.

One thing dealers understand is that filing rebuttals on these sites also gives them MORE content and will help push them up in the SERPS so you need to be spot on when you do them.

Worse than having a ROR filed against you is looking like an ass when you try to correct it!!

I think you have great input on the best way to fight against the negative reviews. By creating more content pages that rank well it will dramatically decrease the number of people who even see them. I would ad to your list Video SEO which can also help you take up space on the first page and getting indexing with lightning speed. This along with also being indexed with tons of positive reviews would be the best case senerio on my opinion.
  • J
    Joey Stivick
  • January 15, 2009
Best thing to do is to just ignore this stuff. It goes away eventually and it really has little or no impact on your store or sales.
Too bad there isn't a social network/review site that allows sales people and dealerships to talk about all the good things they do for their customers.
  • J
    Joe Webb
  • January 23, 2009
When dealers start to truly care about their online reputation, they will begin devoting more time to sites such as Carfolks and DealerRater. People do not only comparison shop products online, but people. No matter where the Ripoffreport falls in the search engines, some customers will actively seek out advice from these two growing resources.
  • J
  • January 23, 2009
There is. It is called It is pretty cool. can help dealers. It is FREE for every sales person in
the country. This posting speaks about all the reasons a site like CarFolks is needed in this

CarFolks is a good idea whose time has come, and beneficial for the industry.The value CarFolks can provide is huge!
Joe err.. Joey.

So how long have you been working for CarFolks? Tell your boss to buy some ad space here, you'll get more sales that way.

Joe - I love you man.
Alex and Joe, I thought the idea for this blog was to share tools and positive things dealers and salesmen can do to build their business. What Joey and Joe Webb shared is right on the money.

My question for you Alex and Joe, is why hasn't there been an article on Dealer Refresh about what is doing for the hard working sales professionals in this industry? When I search for Dealer Rater in your search box they come up 8 times, a search on Carfolks has only two entries and one is just a sponsorship mention. So bottom line: Is an interview with Alex Synder more important than telling 200,000 auto sales people they have a FREE tool to protect and build their reputation online?

I like what you're trying to do, but your approach to selling it is very spammy. You have calmed that approach down substantially in the past few months, but it doesn't take much to realize what was posted in this thread was some of the same. I think that's what Joe was calling "Joey" out on.

Neither CarFolks, Dealer Rater, or the Rip-off report have ever come up in my daily talks with various sales professionals around the Hampton Roads marketplace. Those things are only spoken about amongst people who frequent Dealer Refresh. Once customers start using those things they'll gain more weight.

I have noticed that Dealer Rater is gaining a lot of ground in the DC market. Maybe the market I work in is a little behind the times on these things?
Sorry if I disagree but it appears you are approaching this from the typical dealer reactive strategy. Did you wait for all of your customers to tell you they are on the Internet, or did your dealership build websites before all of your customers were online?

I don't think people should wait for consumers to jump on the Carfolks bandwagon, because if they do, by that time most of the reviews for dealers will be negative, just like those other rating sites. My point is, a service that is beneficial for the industry is worth discussing and exploring.

Jeff, when he started this blog highlighted best practices and talked about cutting edge technologies and processes. That attitude seems to have changed. It'd be nice to see a return to discussing new products, services and practices that will help our industry. We still need all the help we can get. You Alex are usually ahead of the curve in many areas and your perspective is always insightful. Please continue helping your peers. All the best.
  • J
  • January 23, 2009
Hey Pistell. I dont work for so shove it. I just think they do a great job. Mind your own business. My comments are my own.
@Joey, if you're going to make a comment like that you should really use your real name. It's not cool to tell someone to "shove it" unless they know who's saying it. Just a suggestion.

@Mark, Thanks for your comments. I'm not sure what I would have ever done to deserve your words of belittlement. What have I ever done to you other then NOT write an article about CarFolks. See, either way your getting your name on the site (maybe that is what you intended all along, I don't know).

"when he started this blog highlighted best practices and talked about cutting edge technologies and processes. That attitude seems to have changed."

I don't think that has changed at all. If you have followed the site for any length of time you would know that. I have worked my butt off on this site..AND yes there are times controversy on a few articles over shadows what I would like to have as the main focus here but that's OK. It gets people thinking. Not everyone will agree with everything, how boring would it be? You of all people should know that having a history in journalism.

Hey...I have an idea! You'll know if I move in it. :)

Thanks again for your feedback Mark.
  • S
    Stan Sher
  • January 25, 2009
Wow can't we all just get along here? We are all car guys of high caliber and we all manage the industry as a whole when it all comes down to it. You guys are all great to know and I am glad to be friends with all of you and hang out with you here at NADA. I think that this site really was created for us to speak our minds as well as follow new trends and share knowledge. I do not think that fighting or starting to get negative at one another is a good thing. I had the chance to see Mark today and I respect him he is a good man and has a lot of great things to talk about. I also got to see Jeff today and as always, I love the guy he is brilliant and this site is amazing. Jeff needs extra special respect because he is the master and this is his baby and for that I will be grateful. I have not written anything in here about RedNumbat because I do want to be spammy as Alex mentioned. I think it is fair to mention CarFolks and RedNumbat but not write an article about it because if we want to advertise it we should pay and get a link. However, if we write an article about a vendor it should be to discuss reviews and opinions of what a great service it provides or what damage it can do. This was my reason for writing this article. Let's all get along and be happy, life is too short. Let's keep our names and reputations clean because it is a small world and we cannot afford to ruin that with nonsense.
I would like to add two other sites that are popping up for negative posts, which include: and

Also keep in mind that, Yahoo Local and InsiderPages are often included in Google Maps and related searches so check all these sites for positive and negative posts and take action accordingly.
Note to all vendors who are puzzled. See Brian's post above. It is a classic in social marketing success.

His message is pure and simple, it says to me (aka Buyer)... "Hi, I am Brian; here is some info to help you in this area... I am a SEO in our industry. Visit my site or call me anytime, I'm here to help."

I read his post visited the sites he referred to and bookmarked his site.

Hey! There's a lesson to us all here!

Note to dealers:
If you "hang" in car forums around your community and the audience knows you're a car dealer, your mission is to support the community... period. LET YOUR LINK TO THE SELLING. Do not get yourself into naked promoting and for sure, don't get upset at how short sighted your community members are for not seeing the value in your offers!

You'll be chum in the water.
  • J
    Joey Stivick
  • January 26, 2009
Stan, very well put. Let us speak our minds and not be attacked for giving our opinions.

I made a comment and was brutally attacked for advocating a site I thought did a great job for dealers.

I was also accused of working for that site.

We can all get along and I appreciate your words.

Joseph "Joey" Stivick, Jr
  • S
    Stan Sher
  • January 26, 2009
Thanks. I just believe that our expressions should remain humble. You all have some interesting points and those links were a great addition to add to my point of how important dealership online reputation management. There is one company out there that I believe will eventually become as huge as autotrader but in the terms of reputation management. I am sure you all know which company that is because I know it is the first company that comes to my mind when thinking of about positive reputation management.
I haven't seen it mentioned on here and since it is highly topical, thought I would post it. I hope I'm not trampling all over the promotion thing, but I am not affiliated with this company (and in no way will benefit from their gaining business) in any way and I personally feel it is a fantastic tool.

When concerned with your on-line reputation, which all dealers should be, you need a monitoring tool to see what has been posted on the Web. You need to look at it all: blogs, forums, consumer sites, images, videos, etc. I know its a lot, but all of these things can be used in a negative attack. Now the reason for my post:

There is a service that does a great job of monitoring all of this. It is called trackur and can be found at They have a 14 day free trial offfer for anyone to test the system.

I would strongly suggest anyone concerned about monitoring their online reputation take a look at this service. I think it will be worth your time.

Al Carl
Reynolds Web
  • J
    James Vu
  • October 21, 2009
I think that reputation management is extremely important to having a successful business, and looking at from a consumers’ perspective is a very important thing to consider. For a consumer, when they find bad reviews, they aren’t taking a large amount of time to figure out how viable the source is. The consumer sees good reviews and bad reviews, period. If you want to maintain your target consumers’ attention then you need to have a well maintained reputation.

As terrible as is, it is never going to go away. There will always be a whether it is the actual site or the review section in Someone somewhere will always be posting something bad about your business. The important thing to remember is that in order to have a successful business you need to have some form of reputation management.
If you are willing, would you please make your visitors aware of our attempt to organize victims of in order to put enough pressure on Google, Yahoo and other search engines to completely de-index from search results. Although Ed Magedson is a heartless opportunist, if it weren't for the search engines he would be irrelevant to the rest of the world.
I recently filed a lawsuit against both Google and for civil conspiracy. If you download my lawsuit complaint as filed, you can read my theories on what I call the “humiliation algorithm”. In a nutshell, Google, by elevating results on any given search, repulses users of the search engine from the organization that there were looking for, thus causing them to click on GOOGLE AdWords® thus driving revenue from the ad click through at the expense of the business injured because of Naturally, if the user clicks on the ripoff report link there is a 2nd bite at the cherry for Google because also distributes GOOGLE AdWords®.
More information is available here:
Thank you in advance,
Michael Roberts.