A boat broker’s guide to responding to online reviews

by | Jun 26, 2019

Most boat brokers understand the importance of online reviews. When it comes to buying a boat the opinions of others can be very influential. When you take into account that almost 90% of consumers seek out reviews online before deciding whether to visit a dealership, it becomes even more clear how important it is that you respond to these reviews in a professional manner.

Evidently, lots of people are reading these reviews, so you need to do all you can to show your business in a good light. If you do so, you may end up selling more boats.

Some businesses understandably struggle when it comes to replying to negative reviews. Whilst others aren’t aware that a timely, friendly response to a positive review can also be very effective. In today’s guide, we cover both, as we aim to help you reply to your reviews online.

Before we go into too much detail, you need to be able to log in to whichever reviewing platform your business uses, whether that’s Google My Business, Facebook, or Feefo. All of these platforms will have simple ‘How to’ guides to help show you how to respond to reviews. Once you know how, it’s time to read the rest of this guide…


As you can probably imagine, replying to positive reviews is a far easier and more straightforward task than dealing with negative ones. However, there are a lot of boat brokers out there, that aren’t replying to good reviews at all. They are clearly missing a trick, as a good response to a positive review can reinforce your relationship with that customer and can show a personal side to your business, whilst helping grow some brand loyalty.

This may not only increase the chances of this specific customer returning to you in the future, but it may also show others that you’re a friendly, helpful business that takes time to engage with customers even after the are finished purchasing a boat from you.

Here are some pointers to help you when it comes to replying to positive reviews…

    Acknowledge the customer by name
    Make sure you talk to your customers on a personal level in a friendly tone. Replying to them and calling them by their name is a nice way to start this off and is far friendlier than a generic ‘Hello’. Also people’s attention is activated by hearing their own name, so by doing so you’ll be engaging them from the off.

    Show gratitude
    If you are grateful for their positivity, then not only does this make your business look humble, but it also makes visitors realise you don’t only divert your attention to the people who complain. By simply thanking them for expressing their positive experience you can make the customer feel appreciated.

    Consider your business name and keywords in your response
    When it comes to reviews through Google My Business in particular, keywords in your responses can have a positive impact on your search engine optimisation. By including your business name, category and location in your response, it may contribute to your positive review appearing higher in Google’s rankings.

    Don’t repeat the same reply over and over again
    It’s important that you aren’t too formal when replying. Show the personal side of your business and write in a chatty, friendly tone. It’s also important that all of your replies are unique, showing that you’ve taken the time out to write a bespoke response to all customers. No one wants to receive an automated or copied and pasted response.

    Here’s a nice example of a reply to a positive review:

    “Hi Steve,

    It was great seeing you on Wednesday and we want to thank you so much for your positive feedback. Thanks for taking the time to leave us such a nice review. We’re delighted to hear that Chris our sales consultant here at South East RIBs helped recommend the right boat for you and we’re really happy you like it so much! We always strive to be the most friendly and helpful dealership in Sussex so we’re really happy to have helped!

    Thank you,

    Sam, Business Owner.”


    No one likes to receive negative reviews. However, inevitably it will happen and it’s important to be prepared. If left without a response, negative reviews can become even more damaging.

    As long as you can respond in a timely manner, and remain professional and friendly, most people reading the review will be forgiving and still invest trust into your dealership.

    You need to ensure that you reply to every single negative review you receive. It’s also vital that you reply as fast as possible. The longer you take to reply, the less it seems you care about your customers.

    Not responding simply isn’t an option. You just need to make sure you know how to reply. Here are some helpful pointers…

    Apologise and be sympathetic
    Many customers gain a lot from knowing that you care. They want you to genuinely feel bad that they’ve had a negative experience with your business. Even if you don’t believe you’re in the wrong, it’s important to show empathy to customers that complain.

    Remind potential customers of your usual high standards
    Here is your opportunity to distract other potential customers away from the negativity. Mention what your customers usually experience when buying from you. We’d recommend that you outline the positive things that your customers usually say about your business, reminding people why they should choose you.

    It’s a good idea to say something along the lines of: “We regret to hear about the negative experience you had with our sales consultant, we’re usually known for excellent customer service, so we’re truly sorry to have let you down this time”.

    Move the conversation out of the public eye
    Keep things short and sweet. This will attract as little attention towards the review as possible. Also, don’t go into too much detail. You want to avoid the customer replying with even more negative feedback. What you want to do is move the conversation away from the public eye by providing the person with a phone number to call you on. This way, you can sort their problem away from the eyes of other potential customers, and any negativity that may come from your conversation will not be seen by others.

    Here are some very important points to consider when replying to negative reviews:

    • You are not just replying to the person who left the review. You’re speaking to your entire digital audience, including potential customers who may be watching.
    • By responding you have the chance to straighten things out and make things right for the customer, so take time to consider your response.
    • Never be too embarrassed to admit to your faults. Honesty makes your business more trustworthy to onlookers.
    • Highlight the steps you’re taking to ensure the problem gets sorted and doesn’t happen again for the next customer.

    Here’s a nice example of a good response to a negative review:

    “Hi Ian,

    I’m the manager at South East RIBs and I would like to reiterate how sorry we are that you had a negative experience with us. We are usually known for five star customer service, so we’re truly sorry to have let you down this time.

    Please contact me on [contact phone number] so we can discuss this further over the telephone.

    Kind regards,

    Craig, Business Owner.”


    Make sure that you don’t simply reply to a piece of negative feedback and then brush the issue under the carpet. You want to listen to the customer, and take what they are saying on board. There will be times when you get a customer who simply wants to complain, however, there will often be times when a negative review will be based on a genuine poor experience.

    Listen to the customer. By taking negative feedback on board you can then improve the service you offer to your future customers. By doing this, you may well end up with more positive reviews in the future!


    Responding to all of your online reviews is crucial for your business. So make sure you do so. It’s also vital that you take both good and bad feedback on board to help you improve as a business. It’s time to manage your online reputation by responding to every single review you receive on Google, Facebook, and wherever else your reviews appear. Even if it may seem a little time consuming, replying to reviews can work wonders for your boat sales.