Rob Fontano
John Marazzi Nissan
Internet Sales Director

John Marazzi over the past decade has carved out a sterling reputation as a customer service-focused entrepreneur, selling tens of thousands of Toyotas, Nissans, Jaguars, Audis and Land Rovers across southwest Florida.  His recipe for success: Good, old-fashioned hard work and a willingness to embrace change.

Today, as president of Audi Jaguar Land Rover Ft. Myers and John Marazzi Nissan in Naples, Marazzi drove change to effectively share customers’ online reviews about his dealerships with sales and support teams, as well as current and prospective customers. Sharing reviews, good or bad, is an increasingly key element to the continued success of the business’ reputation management efforts.

Underscoring their importance, Marazzi enlisted Rob Fontano, the dealerships’ Internet Sales Director, to establish practices and policies that encourage employees to solicit online reviews from sales and service customers, postings that energize already highly motivated team members.

“Dealer reviews represent an online scorecard, as people believe not only what they hear from peers by word-of-mouth, but also what they read. They add credibility to your business and provide added recognition for our dealerships and staff members,” Fontano said.

“As our primary customer interface, our sales and service teams, more than John, are the face of our business. While most of the reviews that we post to our website or on Facebook are unsolicited emails and actual mailed letters, we do encourage our people to send emails to customers, especially those they believe would be willing to write about their experience at Marazzi,” Fontano said.

The two Marazzi dealerships stepped up their marketing of online reviews when John Marazzi assumed ownership of the Naples Nissan store in September 2008 following a long run as Ft. Myers’ premier Toyota dealership. The Toyota store’s strong reputation, combined with John Marazzi’s strong community involvement, have already prompted some of its long-standing Toyota customers to switch car buying allegiances to Nissan.

“The Nissan store may be new, but people are saying, ‘let’s give John a shot,’” Fontano said. “To build on that [goodwill], we immediately began posting customer reviews and testimonials on our website, on rating sites and to our Facebook page.  We’re not perfect, but the majority of reviews are positive because each of our team members have full responsibility for each transaction and quickly fix all problems or misunderstandings when they arise.

“As a result, problems don’t reach John’s desk,” Fontano said. “If they did, he would fix them. But, our structure is set up so that others can and do address issues before it gets to that point. This results in overwhelmingly positive reviews.”

As soon as he becomes aware of an online review, Fontano forwards it across the dealership network. At that point, John Marazzi acknowledges and congratulates teams and individual team members in recognition of the customer service that generated a positive post. Fontano educates store employees about the ramification of reviews, and the fact that both customers and prospects post and read them.

“Some reviews posted about other dealerships, to put it mildly, aren’t very good. “Sharing both our positive reviews, and negative postings about our competitors, inspires our sales and service people to achieve even more,” Fontano said. “This is positive reinforcement at its finest.”

In addition to distributing them internally for their “feel-good” effect, Fontano encourages sales personnel to leverage positive reviews in the sales process. Specifically, he recommends that salespeople, when momentarily leaving customers in an office to speak to the GM, pull them up to read on the computer screen as examples of satisfied Marazzi customers.

“Salespeople are extremely competitive. While we haven’t offered financial incentives for positive reviews, that might be something we’d consider,” Fontano said. “The thing is, the pride that everybody has in their work has always been so strong that positive reviews have never been in short supply.”