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February 23, 2024

Will Offering Deals on Cars Increase Your Dealership’s Rating?

Discover the impact of deals on dealership star ratings and learn strategies to enhance the customer experience.

Whether it’s cash back, 0% APR, or 10% off MSRP, dealerships are constantly innovating and coming up with new deals and promotions to attract customers. 

While deals often are enough to get customers in the door, the questions remain: How much do they really impact the customer experience, and are they truly effective in leaving a lasting impression? 

After analyzing 1.5 million Google reviews from 16,000+ new car dealerships across the U.S. in the 2023 Voice of the Customer Report, we’ve gained insight into the motivations behind customer reviews. In this post, we’ll identify the influence of deals on reviews and local rankings and other strategies you can use to get more positive reviews for your business. 

Customers Rarely Mention Deals 

Yes, deals are attention-grabbing - it’s hard not to perk up at free car washes for life. Aside from their enticing nature, their influence neither makes nor breaks the customer experience.

Online review data shows that in 2023, customers brought up deals in 3.8% of positive reviews and just 2.1% of negatives. 

How Do Deals Shape Customer Perception?

Positive Reviews

Deals are brought up more frequently in positive reviews than negatives. Substantial savings or incredibly low financing reflect favorably on a dealership, and oftentimes, people want to brag about their bargains. However, their impact on review volume and star rating is low. 

Negative Reviews

Deals that fail to meet customer expectations or are misleading can sour the customer experience, leading to negative reviews. Deals and pricing go hand in hand when it comes to review sentiment, and happy customers don’t usually mention price. Therefore, mentions of deals in negative reviews may indicate that customer expectations aren’t being met. 

What else affects your dealership’s rating?

To better measure what happy customers are talking about and learn how to channel that into more positive reviews for your business, we sorted review mentions into categories. As illustrated in the graph below, two categories emerge as prominent: Staff and Department.

Screenshot 2024-03-04 at 2.17.00 PM


8 out of 10 reviews mention staff members. Out of those 8, 7 are positive. Therefore, positive staff interactions are the leading cause of positive reviews. 

In contrast, we found that price and dealership attributes (cleanliness, inventory, valet, loaner car, and trade-in) had a negligible influence on reviews, with staff being 5x more predictive of a positive outcome. 


Positive department-specific reviews often go hand in hand with staff mentions, which makes them the second largest contributor to reviews.

  • Positive Sales Reviews Most Often Mention: Good experience with the Sales Department + Staff name + Helpfulness + Friendliness + A Professional Team
  • Positive Service Reviews Most Often Mention: Good experience with a specific member of staff + Effective vehicle repairs + Wait times that met expectations

In contrast, negative auto reviews most frequently comment on the service department, often mentioning miscommunication related to repairs and wait times.

Recent review data shows that department-specific reviews are mostly positive and often contribute to a higher overall rating. However, the high volume of negative service reviews suggests that improving communication in service departments should be a top area of focus for dealers moving forward. 

How to Maximize Positive Reviews

While deals generate excitement and draw customers in, they don't translate directly to positive reviews. To maximize positive reviews and increase your dealership’s rating and reputation, you must focus on other factors that drive customer satisfaction. Here are a few strategies to consider:

Invest in Training

As staff is the #1 driver of positive reviews, investing in your team is a great way to earn 5-star reviews and increase your star rating. 

Ensuring your team is prepared and trained to handle every customer interaction is the key to a high rating for your business. 

Testing your team specifically for friendliness, helpfulness, and professionalism will ensure even more positive customer feedback, as these topics appear in 22% of all tagged topics in our review analysis. 

Define Service-Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs ensure a positive interaction with your customers. They clearly outline service details and performance metrics and help to mitigate miscommunication. 

Especially for service department interactions, focusing on effectively communicating wait times and setting customer expectations in pricing will work to produce positive customer interactions. 

Manage Your Reviews

Monitor your reviews for and act on rising mentions in:

  • Communication
  • Management
  • Wait times
  • Honesty
  • Pricing

By managing interactions mentioning long wait times, poor management, or miscommunication, you can prevent negative feedback and increase your chances of turning a negative review into a positive.

Utilize Technology

Text your customer video or photo updates of their vehicles during service. Alert them to any unexpected delays/wait times. Real-time service updates ensure open communication and prevent any possible negative experiences.  

Further, streamline the review generation process to ensure you take advantage of every review opportunity. Widewail Invite seamlessly helps you activate the voices of your happy customers through automated SMS review requests. 

In short, while deals may be an effective way to get new customers in the door, they don’t have a lasting influence on customer sentiment or your star rating. The influence and impact of your team carry the most weight in shaping the customer experience and improving your dealership’s reputation. 

To access more analysis and insights regarding review sentiment, download the free 2023 Voice of the Customer Report. 


2023 voice of the customer report, analyzing customer review data in automotive


Emily Keenan

Originally from Scarborough, Maine, I moved to Vermont after graduating from St. Lawrence University, where I received my BA in English and Spanish. I have always been interested in writing and communication, which is what initially drew me to the Review Response Specialist position at Widewail. In my spare time, I can be found reading, playing electric guitar, or strolling/biking around one of Burlington’s many scenic trails. I always welcome the opportunity to talk about my work, and invite anyone with questions or comments to reach out or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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