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Auto Shop Reviews: The Good, The Bad, & How to Handle Them

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

Consider today’s world of digital marketing, social media, websites, and instant messaging. What do you think customers are looking at most when they find your shop for the first time? While the content and appearance of your site and social channels is important, one of the first places potential customers flock to is the review section. Reviews have become gold, a currency that you can use to boost your image or one that can easily drown you in the debt of scaring off future clients.

Photo by henry perks on Unsplash

How can you maximize good reviews while minimizing bad reviews? It’s much easier to maximize those good reviews but minimizing bad reviews can provide just as much power in growing your brand and shop message. Let’s take a look at a few steps for magnifying those 5-star reviews before diving into bad reviews.

Managing Auto Shop Reviews: The Good

If you’re the person managing the website and social media for an auto shop, you likely know the surge of adrenaline that hits when you’re notified of a new review. That first glimpse of the 5-stars filled out gives you a near sense of euphoria, which only continues if the customer included a message highlighting specific people or services for the shop.

Do you just give yourself a pat on the back and keep going, waiting for the next good review to come in? Not if you want to turn that good review into more reviews. While just having good reviews is great, you need to make sure that both returning and potential customers are seeing them.

This could include sharing the review on your social pages or highlighting them on your site’s homepage. Just make sure that you are being sincere and spotlighting why the review is important to you – whether that’s congratulating the team member they may have commented on or sharing more about a specific service. Humans aren’t robots; we have a great knack for telling when things are genuine or just another way to push a service.

Don’t end there, though! If you had a review that mentioned a specific team member, make sure you congratulate them in person. You may think that sharing about it on your social is enough and they’ll see, but you can’t know for sure. And if that great worker doesn’t feel appreciated, they may not think staying at your shop is worth it anymore. So, depending on your shop’s processes, mention reviews in your weekly meetings or just give them a shout-out in the morning. Whatever you do, make sure to highlight why the customer thought they were great. It will encourage them to continue providing that service while also encouraging those who weren’t included in the review to try and provide that level of customer service as well.

By doing these two things – sharing the review on your site and social media and giving props to those mentioned – you’ll create a cycle that will only do good things for your shop. More customers will see the reviews and want to come in while your staff will be providing better and better service, resulting in more and more good reviews that starts the process all over again. Way to go team!

Managing Auto Shop Reviews: The Bad

That euphoria from good reviews can quickly be extinguished when you see the notification and the first glance reveals only three stars, two, or even one. You may feel crushed – or even angry – as you read the reviewer’s experience. There are typically three “knee-jerk” responses to a bad review: ignoring it, emotional replies, and asking for better reviews. DO NOT DO ANY OF THESE. Here’s the issue with each one:

The Do-Not-Do-These-For-Any-Reason when Managing Bad Auto Shop Reviews:

Ignoring bad reviews. Sure, you know that you’ll get more good reviews and it will just go away eventually, but what if it doesn’t? What if that person becomes angrier that they were ignored and then shares their review and it spreads to more reviews? Our society has become used to instant fixes and that’s no different for reviews.

Replying emotionally. While you should never ignore a bad review, you don’t want to reply right away based off the emotions. Whether you think the reviewer is wrong or not, doesn’t matter. People are going to see your response to this review! That means you need to be calm and level-headed. Getting angry and not being professional will only hurt your shop more.

Asking for better reviews. There is a time and place to ask for more/better reviews (we’ll talk about that in a minute). But doing it in response to a bad review looks fishy, something potential customers will catch on to and want to avoid. So, if you get a bad review, don’t go begging for more reviews from your other clients right away. It will just make your shop seem less authentic and like I said before, we aren’t robots and will be able to realize what it was in response to pretty quickly.

Okay, so what do you do when you get a bad review? Every situation will change, but we have a few great guidelines to follow.

The Yes-Please-Do-These-Instead Guidelines for Managing Bad Auto Shop Reviews:

Before we list out the guidelines, let’s look at a negative review and a few examples of good responses:

Negative Review: “We had the worst service here. The front desk took forever to even acknowledge us, they wouldn’t just tell us a price, and – after HOURS of waiting – the tech who explained everything to us was extremely rude. We will not be coming here again!!! – Debbie D.”

Response A: “Hi Debbie. First off, we wanted to say thank you for leaving your review and letting us know about the experience you had. We are so sorry you experienced that, as that is not the customer service we value at our shop. We’re looking into this more and our service manager Riley will be reaching out to you soon to figure out what we can do to make it better and improve any future experiences.”

Response B: “Hi Debbie, this is Riley, the shop manager. I am very disappointed you received that type of experience at our shop. We value treating customers fairly and making your day easier – not harder. I’d love to learn what else we can improve on if you’d be willing to share. You can email me at or give the shop a call and ask for me. I’m typically here until 4pm every day. Again, I apologize for the experience and will be working with my team to make sure nothing like that happens again.”

Response C: “Debbie, we are so sorry about your experience and want to make it better. Our service manager Riley will be reaching out to you to learn more. Thank you for leaving the review and letting us know there was a problem – in order to provide the best service, we have to know where improvements are needed. This isn’t typical of our shop’s staff, so we’ll make sure to follow up and figure out what happened. If you’d like to contact Riley directly, just give us a call and ask for him.”

As you can see, there are a few consistencies in these responses (all good, some better depending on your personality and style). Using those examples, we can layout the guidelines of managing bad reviews appropriately as:

Responding as soon as you can. Even if you’re unable to fix the situation or want to learn more first, don’t leave the reviewer hanging! Let them know you saw the review, you want to figure out what happened, you’re looking into it, and will be following up.

Apologize. Sometimes shop owners feel like this is them admitting fault – and while some apologies can seem that way, you don’t have to. Simply saying sorry for their experience, as shown in the examples above, will let the reviewer know that you are empathetic about the situation. It may not have been your shop’s fault, but you can still extend that peace, express your empathy, and make for a better overall interaction.

Share why that’s not normal. Tactfully explain that their experience is not the shop’s norm – this will show not only them but any other potential customers reading that this isn’t what they should expect, and that you are working on fixing it.

Be authentic. Don’t give them a canned response – it will leave them feeling like you only responded for the sake of having a response, not actually trying to fix the problem. If you have a certain person responding or who will be reaching out to them (in the case above, Riley the shop manager), make sure to identify both their name and position. This works even if you focus on “we” speak for your shop’s social.

Get offline. Try and get the rest of the exchange offline, where you can have a personable exchange (over phone or email) that isn’t broadcasted to your entire audience. Each of the responses above do this in some way, by either saying the shop manager is calling or that they can email or call, too. While some people will continue to answer back once or twice, getting that person-to-person interaction (we recommend over the phone or even in person over email if at all possible) is key to helping turn that bad review into a better review.

Use it as a learning experience. Don’t tell the customer that you’re fixing it and talking to team members without doing just that. You’ll just keep getting bad reviews (which will make it harder and harder for those good reviews to even out) and potential customers will keep running away. Talk with your team, figure out why corners were cut, what happened, and come up with plans to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Now, here are a few caveats to these guidelines. It’s possible that you’ll have a review that is just not true – either the customer is mad about something else and has exaggerated the story or they’ve started a crusade of bad reviews from people who haven’t even visited your shop (trust me, you don’t want that to happen).

While you’ll want to follow some of the guidelines, don’t be afraid (if and ONLY IF the customer really is lying or exaggerating things out of proportion) to professionally explain what happened and why you don’t feel the review is warranted. If for any reason you have reviews from people who haven’t actually been to your shop, you can respond and let them know you’re working with whoever spurred that “revenge” review and that your shop values providing better experiences for everyone. Then, you can report the review as spam. Why even comment if you’re marking as spam? Because that process can take longer than you want, and that way potential customers can easily see that these people were not really reviewing your shop.

Another caveat is whether or not to ask a person who left a bad review to change/remove it. This should be entirely up to the person who has spoken and worked with the customer that left the bad review the most. Does it feel like they’d be angrier or offended if you asked? Then don’t. If you provided good enough follow-up service, they’ll likely do it themselves by either editing the review to include the update or even updating the star rating.

If they seem easy going and it was really a big misunderstanding, then give it a try. Something like: “We’re so glad that we were able to get this figured out and hope that the solution has given you a better opinion of our shop. We’d love to continue working with you and want you to know that we’ll be continuing to push ourselves to provide five-star service each time.” It’s a way to bring up the star rating without outright asking and also let them know you’re still improving and want to keep them as a returning customer.

In addition, if any of those “spam” reviews were not deleted by the platform itself, but the issue was solved, you can follow up letting them know and flat out asking them to remove the review since they have never used your services. Just be professional and don’t let emotions get in the way – potential customers will see the interaction and respect that you still reached out to the person and were candid enough to ask that they hold judgment until they experience your shop for themselves.

As mentioned above, each review is its own situation and may need to be handled differently. However, we hope that these guidelines for both good and bad reviews can help you manage any auto shop reviews you get. If you have any questions on your marketing or reviews in general, let us know! And stay tuned for my next blog in a few weeks, where we’re diving into SEO.

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