Managing Your Auto Shop’s Reputation on Yelp & Google Reviews

Research suggests that the vast majority of consumers avoid complaining directly to companies; here's how reputation managment helps them spill the beans.

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Conceptual Minds | March 22, 2023

Harsh customer complaints are a fact of life among retailers; you (eventually) learn not to take them personally. 
Given the regularity with which these incidents occur, you may assume that any relevant complaints have already been voiced (especially if you’ve been operating your business for a while). 
But you’d be wrong. 
Research suggests that the vast majority of consumers avoid complaining directly to companies; in one study, 96 percent of customers kept their thoughts to themselves. With those numbers, it’s safe to assume there are many legitimate complaints you’ve never heard.

Why Do Customers Have a Hard Time Complaining?


We’re experts in marketing, not psychology, but generally speaking, there’s a social cost to complaining that many people wish to avoid. People avoid complaining in the same way they try to avoid unnecessary conflict.
You can presume any of the following factors are at play:  
  • It’s too inconvenient to complain (The process is too lengthy or complex) 
  • They believe no one wants to hear their complaint
  • They may fear that complaining may impact the quality of service they receive
  • Or they may have a conflict-averse personality

How to Interpret Negative Feedback from Yelp and Google Reviews

Photo by Gustavo Fring
One of the most important lessons of reputation review sites like Yelp and Google Reviews is that every story has multiple sides.
The job of a reputation manager is to figure out whether the issue at hand lies with you or the customer. 
Let’s take this complaint at an independent, tri-state area auto shop.


We have a one-star rating, and the reason is apparent: they felt the inspection’s price was too high.
At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss this person’s complaint for the following reasons:
  1. It’s a little dramatic. An extra $30 for the “same” service isn’t the personal insult he took it to mean.
  2. It’s also a stretch to say that this pricing reflects a careless, indifferent, or greedy attitude among ownership. He’s presuming that this shop charges an arm and a leg without checking out the pricing of any other service.
  3. It’s also understandable that an independent auto shop would charge more than a national chain.
The auto shop may have done nothing wrong from a pricing and process standpoint.
That said, his comment is still valuable, as it gives us an understanding of how price-sensitive customers may feel about the cost of an inspection. By investigating the issue, we’ll additionally learn what neighboring shops charge, and how inspections vary from one shop to the other.
With that knowledge, management can weigh the value of adjusting the pricing, shifting customer communication (Including expectation-setting), or any other changes to options to make inspections feel like a good value.

Reputation Sites Offer an Unfiltered Feedback Loop

Such sites offer a customer-client feedback loop that provides otherwise rare bits of customer feedback. Carefully considering their messages—which often requires a good deal of reading between the lines—shows you your customers experience roadblocks. 
Armed with that information, you create the kind of customer experience that earns rants and raves.

Learn About Conceptual Minds

As automotive industry veterans, the Conceptual Minds team are experts at growing car counts through effective and personable marketing. If you are unsure of your current marketing strategy and want some guidance, reach us at 877.524.7696.

Need help earning higher car counts & standing out from the competition?

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