WALTHAM, Mass. — Dealer review site DealerRater and Polk released results of a new study that sought to highlight the link between a dealerships’ average online star ratings and new vehicle sales. Based on its findings, dealers with an average star rating of 4 or higher had a 25 percent greater increase in sales compared to dealerships with an average star rating of 2 or less.

Conducted during the first nine months of 2011 and 2012, the two company matched reviews from DealerRater’s database with new-vehicle registration data from Polk. Polk analysts then investigated and reviewed the changes in registrations over several time periods. 

"DealerRater and Polk have worked together to bring greater insight into the effect of an auto dealership’s average star ratings on new vehicle sales,” said Brad Korner, vice president of sales and client services at Polk. “After viewing every slice of this study data, we are very confident that it looked at dealers in a fair and equitable manner. The powerful and meaningful insight gained from this study finally puts some hard data behind the strong influence of online consumer reviews.”

The DealerRater/Polk study also compared the sales performance of DealerRater Certified Dealers to the general market, as well as to non-certified dealers. Results show that certified dealers experienced a 23 percent greater increase in vehicle sales during the study period compared to non-certified dealers. In addition, certified dealers who had been on the program for at least 12 months outperformed the general market.  On average, certified dealers experienced a five percent increase in new=car sales after six months on the program and an eight percent increase after 12 months — regardless of market conditions.

The study further found that dealers using the premium level of DealerRater’s Certified Dealer Program — 360Certified — experienced nearly a 50 percent greater increase in sales compared to non-certified dealers during the study period.

“Our joint study with Polk is compelling evidence of the quantifiable value of an online reputation strategy in the automotive industry,” said Chip Grueter, president at DealerRater.  “Today, 89 percent of car buyers read reviews online before purchasing a vehicle. This latest study with Polk further validates the importance of online reviews and finally demonstrates the direct correlation between our Certified Dealer Program and higher increases in new vehicle sales. Real, trusted reviews really do drive business and we now have the proof.”