Every time I talk to body shop owners about social media issues, they invariably bring up three things: Yelp, Facebook and how to defend their reputations online, in that order.

They either smile or frown when they mention Yelp, look perplexed when they discuss Facebook and then get plain mad when they talk about how they’ve been wronged online, normally by their competition or a former disgruntled employee.

Recently, the marketing manager of a large MSO told me about Autobody-Review.com, a consumer web site designed specifically for reviewing body shops and described it as ‘Yelp meets Reputation Defender with enhanced SEO.’ I polled some other shops about the service and the feedback was substantial. So, I contacted the company’s President/CEO Chuck Nixon to learn more about Autobody-Review.com and why it’s created a buzz.

ABN: Shops are very concerned with Yelp, because they claim that many of their reviews are not written by real customers. Tell us why your product is different from Yelp?

CN: Autobody-Review.com is unique in that we connect to repair facilities’ customer databases. We gather reviews through two verified processes. Upon completion of the repair performed on the customer’s vehicle a delivery status message is delivered to the client allowing them to enter a review on their positive and negative experience with that company. The ease of using it is the key. The customer completes a paragraph or more conveying their true sentiment of the experience and then it’s scored by our proprietary sentiment engine giving the comment a Google approved Star Rating. Many of our clients are gaining insight into their customers’ experience and ultimately measuring the final performance which did not align with what was being reported to non-verified review sites such as Yelp. This created request for us to create a truly verified customer review site. It all comes down to verifiability and accountability, two things lacking with Yelp.

ABN: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a huge concern for body shops, because they hate seeing their competition ranked higher than them on Google or Bing. Tell us about how your system maximizes SEO for your subscribers?

CN: Not only does our system gather and preview verified reviews about a facility but we also provide social media interface allowing a facility to push reviews directly to their Facebook business page, Twitter and soon Google+. These plug-ins are designed to push reviews to the shops’ page when consumers are most active on social media sites. This increases the facilities engagement score as well as social media SEO ranking. We also back link the facilities business website to their Autobody-Review business landing page. This two-way back linking, along with our current daily traffic and other blog back linking, helps to drive the facilities’ own back linking initiative. Lastly we provide a website widget allowing the facility to post their rotating reviews directly on their own business website. This widget is designed in a manner that is providing web crawlers to find new content on their page. All of these connections and back linking help to drive not only the shop Autobody-Review landing page SEO ranking but also their own sites SEO ranking.

ABN: Big-name MSOs are signing up for Autobody-Review.com in large numbers, but can independent shops can reap the same benefits from your site?

CN: Many MSO’s through our system have identified that larger isn’t better with SEO ranking. Since the release of Google’s most recent update (they’re calling it Penguin) local search ranking is vital. The same applies to Bing and Yahoo. So we advise both MSO’s and independent facilities to focus on local initiatives. We advise large brands to create individual Social pages as the Search Engines are designed to respond best to local traffic. We recommend that each facility create and connect to local listing pages such as Google+, Yahoo and more. As the search engines continue to change, they still tend to support local listings and activity. This means that the larger brands no longer have an advantage. Independent shops through verified review sites such as Autobody-Review.com now have the ability to compete with the big boys.
Now large MSO’s are joining at a high rate, because they see that Autobody-Review.com is driving local traffic in a manner that their corporate strategies in the past have overlooked. Our consultants provide new insight that is valuable to both independents and the larger chains.

ABN: Another aspect of your system allows users to verify shops’ certifications and awards. Some shops list certifications on their sites and in many cases they’re not current or valid. How are you going to be able to verify these certifications from groups like I-CAR, ASE and all of the car manufacturers, for example?

CN: We’re 100% committed to providing only verified reviews, and that also includes verified industry certifications. We’re connected with companies such as Verifacts and I-CAR and they’ve given us a direct feed to their verified list of approved facilities. This allows us to add and remove certifications and ensure that consumers are accurately informed of the hard work and investment an organization has made into their training.

ABN: How do you aggregate all of the “true” customer reviews for your subscribers?

CN: All reviews are scored through our natural language sentiment engine and then displayed directly on our site. Both good and bad reviews are displayed. This transparency provides a verified and reliable source to help them make a better educated decision when selecting a body shop. We not only collect reviews but we also provide an integrated proactive alerting system helping the facility to improve their future results and reviews.

ABN: Tell me briefly the history of your company and what you have planned for the immediate future?

CN: Our company started in the business of providing proactive communication through an opt in text messaging solution. We created a unique two-way message system that supported a lean process indicative for many service businesses. Through the insight we gained front the two-way communication we quickly realized we were gaining and providing insight to body shops about their consumer experience throughout the process that had never been available in the past. This quickly gained the attention of many leaders in not only the collision industry but insurance carriers nationally. Our customers’ customer satisfaction scores were skyrocketing. We then formed a relationship with CCC and Mitchell International which provide us the ability to interface directly with facilities Management systems. About a year later CCC approached us to exclusively license our status software and integrate it directly into their workflow and estimating platform. We then created an integrated electronic CSI solution deliverable through both email and text messaging. This led us to create our proactive sentiment engine which mines and provides early insight into the customer experience. Our proprietary sentiment alerting and scoring system allowed us to discover that our customer where provide valuable insight and eventually true reviews directly from actual customers. This is what led us to develop Autobody-Review.com.

Autobody-Review.com also features articles designed to improve your shop performance. See, for example, Five tips to prevent a bad online review for your auto Body shop.

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