Responding to online reviews – Everything a car dealer should know

Most car dealers are aware of just how critical online reviews can be when it comes to the success of their business. Whether you provide MOTs, services, or you simply sell cars, one opinion can mean a lot when it comes to influencing another customer’s decision on whether to use your business or not.

With nearly 90% of consumers analysing your online reviews before deciding whether to contact your dealership, it’s essential that you respond to reviews correctly. Lots of people are reading these reviews, so you need to do all you can to show your dealership in the best light.

If you’re wondering how to respond to negative reviews, or if you even need to reply to positive ones, then fear not, we’ve written this guide to help you when it comes to responding to reviews online.

First thing’s first, and it may sound like an obvious point to make, but whatever reviewing platform your business uses whether that be Google My Business, Facebook or Feefo, you must make sure you know how to log in and respond to the reviews. Most of the review platforms listed above should come with ‘How to’ guides when you first signed up, so it should be nice and straightforward.

“90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.”

– Forbes


It’s fair to say responding to positive reviews is much more straightforward and less stressful than replying to negative ones. However, a lot of car dealers don’t even bother replying to good reviews.

Responding to a nice positive review can do a hell of a lot for your dealership. It’s a simple way to engage with your customers, which in turn has a positive impact on both your brand identity and your one-to-one relationship with that customer. This may not only increase their chances of returning to your dealership in the future, but it may also show others that you’re a friendly, helpful dealership that takes time to engage with customers even after they have purchased from you.

If you’re wondering how to respond to a positive review then take a look at these pointers that might come in handy…

Acknowledge the customer by name

Firstly, talking to your customers on a personal level paints your business in a friendly light and is far nicer than a generic ‘Hello’. Additionally people’s attention is activated by hearing their own name, so they will be far more engaged in your reply from the off. It also shows that you remember who that specific customer was, as opposed to you forgetting who they were as soon as they left your dealership.

Be grateful

Showing a bit of gratitude not only makes your dealership look humble, but it also makes visitors realise you don’t only divert your attention to the people who complain.

Customers want to feel appreciated, so by simply thanking them for expressing their positive experience you can make the customer feel special.

Consider business name and keywords in your response

When it comes to Google reviews in particular, even keywords in your review responses can have an impact on your search engine results rankings. By including your business name, category and location in your response, it will allow your positive review to appear much higher in Google rankings. That’s what you want!

Don’t be too formal and don’t repeat the same reply

When it comes to replying to positive reviews you want to make sure that you’re not being too formal with your reply. Show the personal side of your business and write in a more chatty, colloquial manner. You should also make sure that all of your responses to positive reviews are different, to show that you’ve taken the time out to write a bespoke response to all customers. No one wants to receive an automated or copied and pasted response.

Here’s a nice example of a reply to a positive review:

“Hi Laura,

Firstly thanks so much for your positive feedback, and taking time to leave us a review. We really appreciate it! We’re delighted to hear that Dan our sales consultant here at Alan’s Autos helped recommend a vehicle that most suited your daily requirements and we’re happy that you were pleased with the car. We always strive to be the most friendly and helpful dealership in Sussex so we’re really happy to have helped!

Thank you,

Alan, Business Owner.”


Let’s face it no one likes reading a negative review about their business. But it’s bound to happen to your dealership from time to time. If left unresponded to they can be really damaging. But don’t worry, as long as you respond nicely, and in a timely manner, most people reading the review will be forgiving and still invest trust into your dealership.

It’s important to remember that it’s essential to reply to a negative review. It’s also vital that you reply quickly. The longer you take to reply, the less it seems you care about your customers.

Not responding simply isn’t an option. You just need to make sure you know how to reply. Here are some helpful pointers…

Apologise and sympathise

Many customers gain a lot from knowing that you care, and that you genuinely feel bad that they’ve had a bad experience with your business.

Even if you don’t believe you’re in the wrong, it’s important to show empathy to customers that complain.

Remind potential customers of your usual high standards

Here is your opportunity to distract the reader away from the negativity, by describing what customers at your dealership usually experience. We’d recommend highlighting the positive things that your customers usually say about your business, reminding people why they should choose you.

It’s a good idea to say something along the lines of: “We regret to hear about your negative experience with our sales consultant, we’re usually known for five star customer service, so are truly sorry to have let you down this time”.

Move the conversation out of the public eye

Overall it’s best to keep things short and sweet, to attract as little attention towards the review as possible.

Don’t go into too much detail, in order to avoid the customer replying with even more negative feedback.

Make sure you move the conversation away from the public sphere by providing the person with a phone number to call you on. This way, you can sort their problem away from the eyes of other potential customers, and any negativity that may come from your conversation will not be seen by others.

Here are some things to consider when replying to negative reviews:

  • Remember you’re not just replying to one person. You’re speaking to your entire digital audience, including potential customers who may be watching.
  • Replying gives you an opportunity to straighten things out and make things right for the customer, so take time to consider your response.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to admit to your faults. Being honest makes your business seem trustworthy.
  • Demonstrate that you’re taking steps to ensure the problem gets sorted and doesn’t happen again for the next customer.

Here’s a nice example of a good response to a negative review:

“Hi Sam,

I’m the manager at Alan’s Auto’s, and I would like to reiterate how sorry we are that you had a negative experience with us. We are usually known for 5 star customer service, so we’re truly sorry to have let you down this time.

Please contact me on [contact phone number] so we can discuss this further over the telephone.

Kind regards,

Alan, Business Owner.”


It’s one thing replying to a negative review and thinking that it’s been dealt with, but it’s important that you do listen to the person, and take what they are saying seriously. Sometimes you will just get a customer who loves to complain, but more often than not a negative review will be based on a genuine poor experience.

Listen to the person leaving the review. Make sure you don’t just reply and then ignore what they have to say. By taking negative feedback onboard you’re able to improve the service you offer to your customers, which may well lead to more positive reviews in the future!


As we said earlier, responding to all of your online reviews is crucial for your dealership, and reviewing both good and bad feedback is important in allowing you to improve as a business. It’s time to manage your online reputation by responding to every single review you receive on Google, Facebook, and wherever else your reviews appear. Even if it may seem a little time consuming, replying to reviews can work wonders for your car sales.