Education (Best Practices)

Protect Your Dealership from Being Marked “Closed” on Google Places

What is designed to be a way for users to let Google know when a business has been closed is, in some cases, being abused by local competitors.  Since it is so easy to mark a business closed in Google Places, some business are being tagged as closed when they aren’t.  When enough people mark a business as closed, Google will review whether or not this is true, though their review process isn’t public.

Google seems to be doing what they can to address the issue.  In the past, an interim notification would appear on the Google Places page, “Reported to Be Closed”, which users could mark as “Not True”.  However, imagine if someone came looking for your dealership online and was greeted with that message.  The chances of them investigating whether or not that was actually true are slim–they would just head to the next dealership.  Luckily, Google no longer shows this interim message, and will only show a business as closed once reviewed.

To help protect your business from having this happen, make sure your dealership follows Google Local Places best practices like:

Claim Your Google Places Page: This ensures your dealership has control over their own listing.  If you haven’t, go to your Places Page, and in the top right corner you’ll see a link that says “business owner?”.  Follow the steps to claim your page.

Check the Email Listed: Google will attempt to verify with the email address listed with the Places Page when a business is marked as closed.  If you don’t respond, you may just be out of luck.

Update Your Listing Often: The more often you’re adding reviews, keeping products and hours up to date, etc, the less likely someone will be able to get away with marking your business as closed without it looking suspicious.

Has anyone had trouble with your dealership being marked as closed?  What did you do to fix the issue?

What Would it Take for You to Leave the Auto Industry?

I try to spend at least a little time each day reading forums and blogs from outside the auto industry because I think there is a lot to learn from other business communities.  Today, I found an interesting question up for discussion, and would like to pose the same to you.

What would it take for you to leave the auto industry?

More money? More interesting work? Better benefits, or hours?

And reversely (and I think I’ll get more responses to this question than the previous),

What are the reasons you wouldn’t leave the auto industry?

The community?  Your love of cars?  The thrill of the sale?

Regardless of how you initially got into the industry, I would argue that those that stay do so because they truly love something about their job.  Working in a car dealership isn’t for just anyone, so what is it about the auto industry that you wouldn’t give up for the world, and what could a different industry offer you that you just wouldn’t be able to turn down?

Google Buys Zagat as a “Cornerstone” of Their Local Offering

Google has just bought Zagat, a company that provides ratings and reviews of restaurants, entertainment venues, and travel locations.  Known primarily for their yearly restaurant book guides, they have been doing quite well with their online subscription based site and community.

Google plans for Zagat to be the “cornerstone of our local offering”, helping them  to compete directly with Yelp and other online review sites.  Think it was a coincidence that Google recently removed these other review sites from their Google Local pages and search results?

While Zagat doesn’t have a history of rating small businesses, like car dealerships, this only adds to the credibility that Google Reviews will continue to have.  Google seems to realize that online reviews are becoming more and more important to consumers, and doing all they can to make their offering the most trusted, reliable, and complete place to find review information.

So, what is your dealership doing to make sure your customers looking for dealer reviews will find your dealership on Google?

Will Google’s Trusted Store Be Just Another Push for Reviews?

Google is at it again.  According to the Google Operating System Blog, an unofficial source of news and tips about Google, the search engine giant will soon be launching Google Trusted Stores.  This new service is designed to make it “easy for online shoppers to identify stores that provide an excellent online shopping experience.”

I have to wonder how closely this will be tied to the reviews a business receives.  Or perhaps, it will be a reflection of a business’ AdWord spend or a completely separate offering.  There is a lot of speculation on what this new feature will really entail since the landing page isn’t live.

If I had to guess, I’d say Trusted Stores will be similar to what already exists in the automotive industry: all businesses will be a part of the offering, using reviews to help rank which are more “trusted” than others.  And of course, an option for businesses to pay to be a highlighted trusted source.

What do you think?  Is this another way to force businesses to focus on Google Reviews, or could this be a valuable way to differentiate your auto dealership from those around you?

In Case of Emergency–Would Your Dealership Be Prepared?

Within the past year, Maryland has been hit by an earthquake and a hurricane (in the same week!), as well as a huge snowstorm, all fairly uncommon occurrences in our state.  While DealerOn, both the office and our employees, were lucky enough to dodge any real damage, it definitely made us all think about how prepared we are for these kinds of emergencies.

DealerOn had enough warning before Hurricane Irene (and dodged damage from the earthquake) to ensure our account managers were set up to work remotely if necessary.  That way we knew that all of our customers’ dealership websites wouldn’t be affected, and we could continue to provide the exceptional customer service on which we pride ourselves.  And while we were lucky to avoid damage, many in our area were not, and are still without power.

After a natural disaster, your first priority will obviously be to ensure your friends, family, and co-workers are safe.  But after that?  Here are some things to think about to keep your dealership up and running:

Who is expected to report to work?  What if they can’t get there?  What are your leave policies for those without power, damaged homes, etc?

How will you let your employees know if you are open for business?  Does a phone tree exist?  Will you have every employee call you to report their status?

What about dealership customers that have appointments set?  Is your service manager responsible for contacting his/her customers, and a sales manager responsible for contacting theirs?

Taking the time to think about, plan, and inform your dealership staff about these things could reduce a huge headache (as well as save money) after a natural disaster.  As we recently learned ourselves, no natural disaster scenario (or two) is too far-fetched.

How prepared for such an emergency is your dealership?  For those affected by Irene, what steps did your dealership take to get ready?