The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode · 6 months ago

George Nenni: Mastering Google My Business For Car Dealers


George Nenni is the founder of Generations Digital and is a highly-sought after expert when it comes to helping dealers eliminate advertising waste and maximize their marketing dollars. In this episode, George reveals practical tips for dealers to fully utilize Google My Business listings to win more business.

What we discuss with George Nenni:

  • Why Google My Business is a critical element for car dealers. It's free to have a listing, and when properly optimized, dealers can get massive exposure and soak up search results placements on Google search engine.
  • Why 3rd party listing sites are still a good bet in today's vehicle marketplace. 
  • Dealers should have multiple GMB (Google My Business) listings for each department. From fixed ops to body shops, sales and finance, dealers can leverage multiple listings to gain deep links to the various services they offer.
  • Why dealers need to have a website even in 2021 and beyond. There is a lot of chatter about how dealer websites are going obselete with programs like Instgram shopping or Facebook shops and inventory listings, but your dealership website provides a critical marketing avenue to educate and build authority.

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Thanks, George Nenni!

If you enjoyed this conversation with George Nenni, please let him know by clicking on the links below and sending him a message.

...the car business is rapidly changing and modern car dealers are meeting the demand. I'm Michael Cirillo and together we're going to explore what it takes to create a thriving dealership and life in the retail automotive industry join me each week for inspiring conversations with subject matter experts that are designed to help you grow. This is the dealer Playbook. Mm mm mhm. George nene is the founder and principal consultant of generations Digital and is a highly sought after expert when it comes to empowering dealers to eliminate advertising waste and maximize marketing dollars for nearly three decades. George has been a leading educator on emerging technology in retail automotive and joins the podcast to explain how dealers can fully utilize google my business to gain a competitive advantage in today's evolving marketplace. George welcome to the dealer playbook. Thank you Michel, Glad to be here. I'm really looking forward to this. I've read your books which will link to in the show notes um, and I always love your take. It's always data based. It's the, it reminds me of the, the, I can't remember who said it, but they were kind of like facts, don't care about your feelings and you always take a very data driven approach. It's like you can have your gut feeling and what you think. But George is going to come through the middle with the data and we're going to look at the data. So I always appreciate that about you. Um, and so I want to ask you this and I think 2019 you published an article titled 3rd Party classifieds battle to win the click in which you conclude essentially that T. Pcs are third party classifieds Serve two Masters by having to offer a great shopping experience but then also driving results for the car dealer. Can you maybe contrast that article which will will link to in the show notes? Can you contrast that against a recent linked in video that you produced where your your belief is that dealers should also not be wasting paid search dollars, advertising used inventory and maybe what some of the nuances and How do I balance? TPC is 3rd party classifieds but also um you know maybe my insatiable desire to just advertise my own stuff and how do you balance that? Sure. So so I am generally a defender of third party classified as long as they come in under the right KPI is the right benchmarks. And so especially for marketing used vehicles beyond a 30 mile radius. Marketing from 31 to 100 miles or 60 miles can be very very expensive using paid search And really honestly I would argue that within 30 mile radius using paid search to try to market used cars is a waste of money. And so you get costs for V. D. P. With third parties typically easily under 40 cents cost for conversions that we leave for phone calls or messages under $40. You know we inspect a ton of paid search from all the major providers. It's hard to get under double those numbers, 80 bucks a lead and uh, $8. Uh, VPs are even more expensive to try to keep it under $8 of GDP is the contributing factor. Just the sheer volume of dealerships who are advertising, Uh, inventory in a 1 - one fashion. Yes. It's the third parties are in a unique position and it's the same in other verticals. You look at real estate and rvs and boats and when you have a lot of content on the site, you know, google is gonna reward that. And so you know, why, why if you google any make model across the country, do cars dot com Autotrader? Carfax car gurus all show up on page one because they've got great content. And when shoppers click on those ads, they stay a long time and... sees that and says because google also serves two masters of course and they paid the freed side and so they have to make sure that they returned the best search results in a dealer with one or two matching Wranglers just is not as relevant as, as autotrader with, with, you know, dozens and dozens and so it's, or hundreds, you know, and so it's, you know, it's, it's tough to compete there. So I think it's, it's better to, to play with the third parties. And I'm skeptical on some of the add on packages. I like sort of the base offerings from the third parties with a few exceptions, but for marketing, news cars, there's, there's, uh, there's just few choices that are anywhere close that, that cost effectiveness. Amazing. Does this, do you think the new beta from google where inventory listings now can show or, or I guess sponsored listings and, or native inventory listings can show up in syrups or search engine result pages. Does that convoluted things? Does that muddy the waters? It definitely does it. So it's not like we've seen the paid ads, we've seen those paid ads and typically for, for folks like room and, and carve ana. Um, we've seen them, test those ads and so that's compelling, right? It's at the very top of the search results. It's an attractive small little thumbnail or maybe kind of a toenail, you know, size picture of a vehicle with a little description. And so those are, those can be pretty compelling to someone searching for a vehicle. Um, I doubt that they would be offered on the free side. I just think they've got free listings on google, my business listings, which, you know, those, those rarely get, get a lot of activity on them, but, but nonetheless, it makes you wonder what google's intentions are. But yeah, for third parties that they get changes the game because it will no doubt siphon off some clinics. This is really interesting and I mean somebody from that, sitting in your seat that has your perspective, not just today perspective, but that you've been in the industry educating on emerging emerging technology for so long what evolutions have you seen and what may be things, you know, how the industry can gravitate to things. I mean at one point it was like stu went to an idea, it's like sus Cosco you gotta uh, and then we kind of got over that, we heard a lot about that and then we moved on. It was like big data, big data, big data. And we heard all about that. And then what are some things that like that, that you've seen over the years that have absolutely come true, that we absolutely need to pay attention to, what are some of those things that just never took off and maybe we've wasted time thinking too much about and, and should really divert our focus somewhere else. Yeah, great question. And you know, I loved, I loved the harking back. I mean my first idea was 95 I think. Um, that was when they were still doing the, doing the meetings in Dallas. And so, you know, you mentioned before, you know, data that I'm obsessed with data. Well in 98, NADA was overrun with Stone Age and Autobytel and auto web and all the dot coms were telling the dealers that hey look eventually there won't be dealers will just be selling direct and you know, it just, it was, it was almost a kind of a hostile environment and the, and the, and the dot coms are all telling the dealer, you can't measure your billboard, you can't measure your tv, digital is 100% measurable. That's the beauty of it. And you know, you fast forward to today and how many dealers are really taking advantage of all those data points And so we do, we try to turn into a math exercise because you know, where there's good data points, I think we should use those and you still mixing some art. But, but you know, it, it definitely excuse more to the science. But you know, I would say one of the big, one of the smartest people in automotive definitely was a guy named john Holt with the cobalt group. You know, while, well everyone was focusing on portals. You know, uh, you know, stone Age and automate a lot of websites at autotrader car's dot com. You know, he knew the importance of websites and how important dealer websites would be. And so I went out and made these relationships with the O E M S and really that takes great vision and you know, he was right and he's still right websites, getting getting the consumer onto your website will always be a better experience will always convert better. We're investing in all these digital retailing tools and trade tools...

...and chat. You know, let's, let's not try to have them on a facebook GDP, let's not try to have them on a google my business VP if we have the opportunity to drive them to our website GDP that's really interesting and I think that provides a really good segue into um you know one of the books that you've written which is basically should be the car dealers bible to google my business. There's always I think two camps and you've probably seen this as well. I'm sure you have you have those that find their ground and stick to it. Maybe they're the website crowd then you have the other side of it where they say, well look there's all of these other sites, facebook ads are popping and google like you said earlier, their thumbnails, you know sponsored ads and they're testing out um you know different inventory feeds and now there's google my business and we're paying a lot of tension to google my business and so you have that camp that says, well websites completely irrelevant, you don't don't worry about that. There are all of these other properties are going to take over. What are your sentiments, especially as it pertains to your vantage point being somebody who educates dealers on google my business a website, the website experience is always better, you can, your conversion rates on your website, traffic is always better. You can measure that traffic better. You can retarget that traffic, there's just there's just a whole host of reasons, wow why you would want them there, you know inventory is available now on google my business and there's a little mini V. D. P. But they're just one quick click away to competitive vehicles and those sort of things. Um and facebook via GPS really the main call to action is his message and phone calls and you know if the dealer is not real good at chatting text with unfortunately many or not then having the primary called action for facebook ad be messaging, you know, but will disappoint the consumer and the and the dealer in terms of results. Um so you know the website is I think will remain important for those reasons and that, you know it's it's the dealer storefront as it relates to google my business. Keep in mind and I've seen this really ramp up the last couple of months when you link a website to google my business property and of course your sales G. M. B. Should link to the homepage and then your service and your body shop should all link to those appropriate page is not just for the consumer experience. They can deep link to your body shop page but google now reads those pages. The linked pages and then we'll suggest services back based on your categories based on content they found on those pages. So so the exercise we're doing with a lot of dealers now is for the fixed ops G. M. B pages. You know, once we do the light lifting of getting the G. M. B. Listing all appropriate. Then we go to work on that landing page and make sure that we've got a lot of keywords that google can, can go sniff out in reference this, this is amazing because this is one of the questions as I lay under my covers with a flashlight last night writing notes. I'm like this is something I have to ask George because there's always been kind of a a debate on the right way to approach the various departments inside of a dealership. And so you're saying there is essentially there's a right way to make sure that all of the departments in your store through google my business have appropriate coverage, correct, correct. And anybody listen to this podcast, you know when you're finished listening, go to your service G. M. B. And click on the info tab and scroll down the bottom and tell me if you see a bunch of orange suggestions, anything in orange is google suggestion of of different content and for every dealer we've we've tested since the last two or three months you'll see all those go ahead and approve the ones you like fixed typos on the ones they may have pulled from your website erroneously and then delete ones that are inappropriate and kind of manicure those services that are there cascading under your auto repair category G. M. B. I don't mean to make that too complicated is really not just go in and look at the data and either approve it or deny it. So you're saying, did I hear you correct? You're saying that... can have a separate google my business listing for the different departments in your store? Yes. Yes definitely. So so and google google advocates that um yes dealers should have at the minimum uh sales and service. They can combine parts with services they want. Um if they have a body shop, a separate G. M. B. For body shop is critical since you can, you can with a little bit of effort have a body shop, a dealer body shop page rank uh in the local pack and the top results in maps because most mom and pop body shops aren't really paying attention. So. Yes, definitely. Is there a right and wrong way? So how do you do that? And you know, I'm not, if it's too much giving away the farm, let me know. But is there is there a right and a wrong way to do that? Like how do you do that if they all share the same address? Yeah. So as long as the web address is different and the name of the business is different, then you can have and and google has assurances and sometimes they'll ask you for these things they'll ask and you descend a picture of the parts department counter or a picture of the service department or something if they have conflict with being the same address, but they absolutely facilitate this. Right? So so early 2000 I began to see Home Depot, Lowe's Kroger walmart with dozens of G. M. B. S and I was like, oh my goodness, there's a G. M. B. For the A. T. M. The coin machine, the bakery, the deli pharmacy, the florist. And so I started doing florist near me pharmacy near me and Daggone if the big boxes with just just building those little G. M. B. Department listings were showing up in the in the local pack for for local search. And so I'm like, well that's that's definitely what you do. And so from a dealer's perspective they can have the same results. It is impossible to optimize a single sales grew my business for service also. Right? And the reason is in the categories, you're only allowed 10 categories, one primary and nine secondary. And so there are 33 fix stops categories. Right? So if I'm a, let's say I must Atlantis dealers. So I'm gonna, here's my categories. Ram dealer, jeep dealer, Chrysler dealer, dodge dealer. Used car dealer, Car dealer, I'm up to six, I've only got four left and I've got to optimize for all the service categories that google puts out there. So if your competitor does that, they will definitely outrank you and likely you won't even show in the top 20 search results, wow, this is like ninja level advice, I hope you, my beloved DPB gang, you better be listening to this, we're gonna link you up with George in the show notes so that you can get in touch with him. But this is this is great stuff moving on to maybe some other frequently asked questions. I mean I don't think there's a doubt now in any dealers mind the importance of google my business and leveraging the tools at their disposal. You here, you know guys like Gary Vaynerchuk who talks about, you know, he's in the day trading attention game and google my business. I mean is one of those tools that dealers ought to be leveraging if they're they're not doing it fully, they really need to be paying attention to this. But of course because it's important George, I'm sure you get bombarded with a lot of common questions and so I thought maybe I would just throw at you some of the common questions that I hear. Um and and that I've been able to to see and maybe we can do some a bit of a rapid fire if you will. Sounds good, so we address the G. M. B listing for multiple departments, profit centers, so that one's already been answered. Here's another one that I've, I've heard a lot, is it possible to add your own questions and then answer your own questions and is there a benefit or penalty for doing so yes you can ask and answer your own questions and there is no penalty. Although I think for for better form we like to have the dealers grab a neighbor and in law you know a brother, a friend, someone asked those questions for them and and get a cadence to it. Don't ask them all in one week but ask a couple of week and then have the dealer log in and answer those. And so...

...the idea there and and again in google's documentation, they advised us, they advised the businesses to ask themselves. Um I just think it looks a little hokey to the consumer but to turn it into an F. A. Q. Area and so pick two or three of your favorite sort of, you know why by elements around the dealership. Well we offer service, loners were big uncertified, we have the largest selection whatever that is. And then come up with those questions, Have someone ask you those questions and then when the dealership answers, make sure they're logged in as the admin account in the in the G. M. B. Don't log in under the personal gmail because the the icon, if they do it right, the icon will say owner have a nice little google my business blue logo and it just looks very very legit um questions and answers. You know, it's been out six years now and a lot of dealers still don't pay attention to it if you haven't paid attention to go look at it. If you find questions or inappropriate flagged as inappropriate, google will remove those. If you find ones that are legit that have been answered by their folks again log in under your G. M. B. Admin, answer it and then have have friends, neighbors, brothers, uh someone the dealership like your answer to push down that other local guide answer because we want are answers to be top for all the questions and then get to work you asking yourself some of those nice softball questions pro tip. Once you get that all done, pick your very favorite question and answer and then three likes in the question, three lights. And the answer will promote that to the home page, to the front page of your G. M. B. Where it shows um, you know, every time someone googles your name. So it's a nice touch. I don't think, you know what you're talking, it's time spewing out of you. Like Neo in the matrix where like I know google my business, this is incredible. I don't, I'm not all we do, but it ends up being uh we dug deep on, well, you know, but what's interesting about this um to what you just said that I find really fascinating is most agencies don't lean into google my business. And I guess my best conclusion around that is because they don't know how to quantify it for themselves, Here's a, here's a free tool that anybody could utilize, You could have a marketing director or anybody in your store, log into your google my business listening but you lean into it and that's just to me a testament George of your, your desire to actually just see the industry move forward. So you know that's not to suggest where any of us are, you know not five oh one C threes or anything like that. But you know I love that you're not holding back and you're saying pro tip and this and that it's it's just I think a real testament to your, to who you are and your desire to help the industry move forward. So I think that's really tremendous. Sure thank you. We hear a lot about reviews I guess my first question that I hear a lot about is do reviews on G. M. B help its placement. Yes definitely. So there's three elements for for for for ranking. So when you and I advise dealers and businesses to go out and do a lot of searches. Don't search for yourself, don't do any brand searches and I wouldn't even necessarily might do a few like ford dealer near me but search for fixed operations, non branded search. So oil change near me tire repair brake service near me or even though am jeep break repair near me some of those things and see who shows up and obsess on who shows up and why you don't show up or what that ranking is, right? So the rankings based on three things, proximity, relevance and prominence, proximity is are you close to the searcher? Uh, and that's pretty straightforward, right? And you can forget about even even worry about that because you can't change it, you can't change your location, you can't spoof your location, so let's just throw that one out now, it's based on just two things relevancy and prominence, right? Given that you're, you're in the, in the area relevance is have you chosen the right categories? Do you have keywords and reviews? Have you done the right things to educate google and google knowledge graph, which is everything google knows about your business. Have you educated them on the things you do? Right, So that's relevance and then the last one, yes, prominence, all things being equal, whoever has the most reviews and the highest star ratings will always rank...

...highest. That leads to the second thing are their best practices beyond this when it comes to responding to reviews or like it's shocking to me actually that there are so many reviews that go untouched by the dealer does is google, looking for response to reviews as ranking factor at all? Uh that's a good question, I don't, I don't have any data on that I would say probably yes and and good form I think is responding of course to every negative I um, responding to every positive, I think sometimes is numbing and it's a hassle for the user to scroll through them. What I what I, and I'm not saying this is best, this is just my style. I like to have the deal respond to ones that got personal. We loved Michael boy, he took extra care with us an extra time and even play with our kids while we were waiting for F and I, whatever it is, you know, Oh, thank you so much. We love Michael. He's been here for years and he's a keeper, whatever it is, they made a personal. So I'm gonna make it personal. Now you're reading the reviews, you're like, what a fun dealership these guys are. And of course anything negative taken offline don't get into a debate. Um, you know, those sort of things. I love it. Um, you were recently in Holland speaking at an event educating the dutch dealers who Are about seven ft taller than I am, each one of them and infinitely better looking. Um, you were, you were educating them about your insights from google, my business best practices, etcetera. While we've answered some of these Q and A. And you've certainly opened the doors to some best practices and things that the listener should, should, uh, definitely take into consideration what we're maybe some of the things that you shared over in Holland that got the dealers really thinking, Yeah, I think the big, the big, wow moment for me was in europe. Almost no one's paying attention to google my business google search um with some exceptions and those exceptions are dominating. So it was the, it was the haves and the have nots. Um some countries are better than others. Uh the UK seem to seem to have better examples of people really utilizing um building out department listings and optimizing those. Uh but but you know, it was funny, I had someone in the first presentation was in Belgium and in Ghent and someone came up to me and said, you know, we were literally live changing our google my business while you were presenting and they swore to me that because they had no categories, the categories are fairly instant. They said that when they fix the categories they immediately started showing and I've tested that with restaurants, um you're adding vegan restaurant or adding vegetarian restaurant as a category for, for someone who offers that, but it wasn't, they weren't ranking, it's the next day and they now rank for those terms, which is interesting because Taco Bell um and again, I've done so much of this, You Taco Bell dominated school in my business. They really pay attention, They choose all the right categories and their competitors don't pay attention at all. I mean some fast food competitors don't have chicken sandwich provider as a category, which is, which is huge. People are searching for a chicken sandwich, they're just hamburger cheeseburger and so it's, it's funny and lots of industries, they miss a massive opportunities just by having their own categories, sorry, off topic. There are no, no. And now I'm gonna go look up Taco Bell and see what insights I can glean about how they navigate GNB um you mentioned they're basically asleep google. I mean as far as tech and emerging tech, especially as it pertains to digital, I often find that the United States either gets things released first as the beta or even in alpha. Um, but then I typically see even, you know, between the United States and Canada, I mean a lot of people go, well, Canada is kind of the quiet neighbor upstairs. Uh, but you know, it's interesting because I do find sometimes in the digital landscape that even Canada excuse more the way europe or the UK would in being a...

...little bit behind or lagging behind. Are you seeing that as well? Is there any, are you seeing any evidence of Canadian dealers lagging behind on google my business? Um, you know, maybe a little bit, I think, uh, you know, I find sometimes it is harder to find Canadian based vendors that, that maybe are have the experience or the breadth of offerings as the U. S. That's a general statement, but I will say that, gosh, there's there's so much innovation that comes out of Canada for automotive. Um, you know, I can you name all the companies, but it's, you know, if you go to driving sales and you're looking at the, the annual best idea or the most innovative technology, it seems like always there's, there's more than the fair, uh, their fair share of Canadian representation, but on the dealers side maybe a little soft, but we don't have a ton of business out there. So it's, you know, we're just, we're just, uh, getting, get our toes wet. Um, but in your, you know, it's interesting one question kind of stood out to me and one of the presentations when I was coaching on how to, you know, I mean, you know, not break terms of service with google, but how to influence reviews. Like we believe in reputation dot com and podium dot com and those are great solutions, but a single point dealer will only get like 10, maybe 20 a month with normal efforts, but through one on one engagement and asking happy customers for reviews and Michael, would you mind if we take great care of you and everything today? Would you mind leaving a review and mentioning my name and, and by the way, Michael, the very best reviews include like the vehicle you bought, the type of vehicle you bought or if you're in for service? What, what vehicle did you bring in and what service did you get? Those? Always end up being our best reviews. Thank you very much. And so I'm not having that conversation if you're irritated and you've had a really bad day and I can tell, I can't, I can't be assured I can get a five star review. And so you know, a question anyway, when I was in Holland was that feels disingenuous. We want consumers to know that we have bad experiences too and don't expect everything to be. It was just kind of interesting, like, like, you know, maybe the capitalists here are trying to maximize reviews, which I am, I want to rank highest, I want to be number one. So, so anything other than a five star review is an absolute slap in the face. But I think over there, overall reviews, star reviews were lower. Um, but I think they may be its cultural where they, where they don't necessarily want to stick your chest out or be perfect. It's funny you say that because I remember, you know, I went over there with the number one attitude, like you got to be number one, number two just means you're the first loser, you know, kind of a thing. And I remember, I'm pretty sure it was paul that pulled me aside and he said, hey Michael, just, just so you know, In Holland were kind of OK being in the 2-10 kind of rank, I wish somebody would have told me, you know, I thought it was so funny, but you're right, I do think it's a little bit more cultural, it's a softer approach, It's not, you know, being kind of like, hey look at me, I'm buying 400 dealerships a year and I'm doing all its like I like to just find my groove and you know, I think that's also a testament just to the lifestyle, right? Let's enjoy these autumn leaves as we ride our bicycle Down the promenade kind of a thing. Whereas here we're like, no, it's 9-5 man. I'm hustling, I'm getting to it. I'm gonna go compete and Dominique but you know, but to their credit, I mean they've they've been ordering as ordered um new car model, you know, for a lot of years. And so where the U. S. Is now just realizing that low floor plans and and low carrying costs and ordering vehicles for for deal for consumers, who knows if that will last or how long that will last. But I mean there's there's there's certainly some innovation. Um there kogi and auditory dot C. A. I would argue probably have better add on products than than their their U. S. Counterparts b with the exception of cars dot com. Um, so so not that there's not, not innovation but uh maybe just in different pockets. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And if there's any place in the world that I actually my wife and I would love to retire to. It's going to be somewhere in that region of the world. It's just it's something about it so refreshing. I don't know what it is. But anyways, George this has been so insightful. I'm so grateful that you were able to join me on the podcast. How can those...

...listening get in touch with you and learn more about your company? Sure. The best way is just google my name, George nene or google the business generations digital but it is generations digital dot com connect with me on linkedin. I try to put a lot of good free content up there and uh, and I'm glad to help. Uh, we've got customers of course we've got plenty of dealers that uh, well phone a friend on occasion and just just need a quick question answered. So I'm always glad to help uh, as well and I appreciate you having me. Mm I'm Michel Cirillo. And you've been listening to the dealer Playbook podcast. If you haven't yet, please click the subscribe button wherever you're listening right now. Leave a rating or review and share it with a colleague. Thanks for listening. Yeah. Mm. Mm Yeah.

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