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Ben Garside: It’s time to banish assumptions and fear online

Time 12:32 pm, March 18, 2016

AT the start of 2016, we decided to focus some of our time on helping motor dealers with online marketing. 

During our investigations we visited a large number of motor dealers to ask their views on a specific piece of work my department was concentrating on.

The results were inconclusive. But, if I offered to give you some marketing tools or advice for free that would sell you more vehicles, would you accept my offer?


I asked a similar question to the dealers we visited and, to be honest, I was shocked to hear some of the responses. Some motor dealers were just not interested in the ideas and that’s fine. However, a high number of the motor dealers had put barriers up immediately, and the majority of those barriers were based on assumptions.

For instance, a lot of the objections were just at the thought of trying something new. Others objected because of the thought of leaving another advertising medium (even when we hadn’t tabled that idea in the first place). Some dealers challenged having time to invest, and finally, a running theme was that there could be some negative responses on online media.

All of these objections are based on assumptions, doubt and fear. This whole area was a great learning curve for me, someone who loves to try new things and take risks. However, sitting back and reflecting on these areas provides me with some important discussion areas.

Here, I would like to discuss ‘negative responses on online media’. This was in relation to having a Facebook page. Although I have found that many dealers are still of the opinion that any online reviews will be to the detriment of their business, this thinking is incorrect and needs changing as soon as possible in my eyes.


Many studies have taken place over the past five years, and all have shown that the majority of consumers check online reviews during their decision-making process.

Another thought process should be what happens if I don’t have an area for online reviews?

The customer who wants to write a review cannot do so but still might tell their friends in the pub, at a football match or on the school run. Any of those options mean you’re in trouble, for several reasons. Firstly, you are not aware of your wins or failings. Secondly, you cannot change your behaviours or processes. Thirdly, you cannot respond and show other consumers that you want to make your customers happy.

There are many more positive reasons than there are negative ones to having reviews online.

More than 90 per cent of online consumers use online reviews in making their final buying decision. I’ll discuss the other areas in the following months, as they’re all of importance. My advice is get a Facebook page or a review page, set up a complaints procedure and treat your customers fairly. Then take the plunge, because if there is nowhere for consumers to review you, they may never even visit your dealership.

Who is Ben Garside? Ben is marketing manager for First Response Finance. Call him on 07817 518739 or email [email protected]

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