When Mark Winters, eCommerce director at Tim Dahle Nissan, joined the dealership in 2015, he had a keen understanding of the importance online reviews can play. Winters is a veteran of the industry and sees reviews as an integral part of a dealership’s messaging – on par even with advertising. Tim Dahle Nissan had a fairly decent library of reviews when Winters arrived, but they weren’t coming in as often as he would have liked. And the solutions that he had used in the past weren’t very user-friendly. They required a lot of effort both by the sales team and the customer. Because of this, he was always on the lookout for new solutions that could improve the process.
Prior to implementing Podium, the collection and management of online reviews at Tim Dahle Nissan was done on an ad hoc basis. The GM of the dealership would have to go into Google, Facebook, and other online review sites they were interested in and manually check for reviews. This process was time-consuming and ineffective. Additionally, there was no set process for collecting reviews, so the dealership’s online reputation was somewhat vulnerable if a customer left a negative review. “When I saw how Podium worked, it was just a no-brainer in my mind,” said Winters. “Being able to use text messages to send the invitation while the customer is still right there is much more transparent than bombarding the customer with emails and requests for reviews. Podium’s process was much more personal. But the most amazing thing to me about Podium was how powerful the platform was. It took all the friction out of writing a review.”
Hitting the Ground Running
The initial implementation and training of the staff went smoothly. Winters was able to quickly secure buy-in from the sales staff by showing them how online reviews were going to help them sell more cars and build their own personal brand online. Tim Dahle Nissan recently redesigned its website to incorporate reviews its salespeople received on DealerRater. Winters was able to point out that potential customers could easily research them online and decide which salesperson to do business with based on those reviews. Once they realized the effect online reviews could ultimately have on their paycheck they were on board. Winters and sales management have also incorporated Podium’s leaderboard into their sales meetings, frequently recognizing employees who are sending out the most invites and receiving the most reviews.
Reviews Rolled In
The biggest benefit Tim Dahle Nissan has achieved since implementing Podium is the sheer volume of reviews it is receiving across all of the review sites it manages. In just over one month since implementing, Tim Dahle has secured 315 new reviews at its three Utah locations. Even in just a short period of time, online reviews are becoming part of the culture of the dealership. “We went from generating four or five reviews here and there to going lightspeed ahead,” related Winters. “What we’re doing now is instilling a culture of reviews. Collecting and responding to reviews is part of our daily routine now and it has made a big difference in how we treat our customers. Our employees know they have to earn it.”
Turning a Negative into a Positive
One of the features that Winters has found value in is Private Feedback. Podium has made it really simple for the staff at Tim Dahle to respond to negative feedback and try and right a bad situation before a negative review is published Winters notes that a lot of dealerships struggle with how to respond to negative feedback, but he looks at it as a chance to show customers that Tim Dahle Nissan cares about their experience. “Customers know that no business is perfect,” stated Winters. “But they want to know that if your business makes a mistake, you’ll fix it. I don’t ever look at a negative review as a setback. I see it as an opportunity to improve.”
The Future Is Bright
Right now Winters says the dealership is only scratching the surface of what it can accomplish with Podium. In the future they plan on rolling it out to the service department as well, which sees a large volume of customers on a daily basis with the challenge to build on the momentum that started with the sales team. “Podium has really changed the mindset of our salespeople,” concludes Winters. “We’re now a review-centric dealership, which helps us to provide a better experience for our customers. Podium is responsible for that, and it’s definitely been worth its weight in gold.”