Good or bad, we own our reputation

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Reputation is one word that can impact everything.

I recently needed to have the tile roof on our house professionally cleaned. Seems our homeowner’s association rules mandate all roofs must be kept clean and I got a letter saying that ours needed attention. Fair enough, I thought, who wants to be known as the neighbor with the dirty roof?

I’d seen a pressure-washing truck elsewhere in the neighborhood so I called for an estimate. Then I happened to mention to my neighbor, Richard, that I was getting that firm to do my roof.

“Oh no, I don’t think you want them,” Richard said. “I’ve heard they’ve cracked roof tiles and refused to do anything about it after.”

Since Richard has lived in our community much longer than me, I figured his advice was worth taking. I cancelled that cleaner.

It was the cleaner’s bad reputation, whether truly deserved or not, that lost him my business. We are our reputation. Everything we do, every sale we make, every service we take, every contact with every prospect or customer, directly makes up what people think and say about us. And if we assume what others think doesn’t have impact, well it cost the cleaner that I didn’t use $625.

A reputation in business is too important to be allowed to just happen. A good reputation should be a priority for every dealer and all team members. There should be a culture in the dealership that makes it important — that what people say about us to others can mean business or not. Some experts even call it “reputation-building” or “reputation management.” They imply it should be part of a dealership’s business strategy.

In effect, it’s all about always putting your best foot forward. Sure, we all strive to do that daily. But it really comes into focus when someone in the dealership has made a mistake. We all know stuff happens. After all, we’re all human.

When it happens, however, the key to avoiding anyone seeing us negatively is to immediately take ownership of the problem. A genuine apology is the best opener. Proposing immediate fixes is next. It is, in fact, the only way you can effectively work with the customer to quickly and fairly make things right and, thereby, actually enhance your reputation.

To build a good reputation requires recognition of its importance to the dealership by the entire staff. If you ask them if a good reputation is important, I guarantee they’ll all say yes. But reminding them of how to get it is worth emphasizing: To have it, everyone on the team must always walk the talk.