Repost from Automotive Dealers Network – April 2009
It is very common to work in a dealership environment where different vendors and consultants make frequent visits to sell a product or service which promises to increase business. In fact, many of the people that are reading this experience this on a weekly basis.
This is because we are living in a world of buyers and sellers which makes everyone
want a piece of the pie. How do we handle each consultant? What improvements does
my dealership need? Why is this person out trying to sell me instead of working in a
dealership? Do we really need to spend more money? These are just a few of the
questions that a dealer principle or general manager have when talking to a consultant.
The reality is that the automotive business is changing almost as fast as the speed of light every day. The business
has become so dynamic that everyone has a bright idea and thinks that they have a solution to increase business,
including people that have never been out on the front lines (sad, but true). This raises a problem for many seasoned
automotive professionals because no one wants someone who has never done this job before to try to teach them how
to be better. It is just not right. However, many vendors still try to employ sales reps and consultants from other
industries and try to make them an expert. I know this for a fact because I have been denied jobs working for some
vendors over someone that is a lot less qualified then me. There is nothing more aggravating then having someone
who never sold a car before or who never wrote service work use the same terminology as someone who has worked in
a dealership. When I was a manager at a dealership, I would qualify vendors when I talked to them by making sure that
they knew what they were talking about and finding out their background.
It is very important for dealerships to constantly consider new vendors and new forms of marketing as well as
new workshops on best practices. This is why we have events like the NADA convention and Digital Dealer
conventions designed for dealers and industry professionals. In modern times, dealerships need vendors to
help them do business every day. A dealership cannot function without a DMS, a CRM/ILM, internet leads,
training/consulting, and many other things. At the same token, vendors need dealerships because that is the
only source of income to grow as a company. The more dealerships that a company signs up, the more valuable
the vendor is. It is a simple act of people helping people where both parties need each other to survive. There
are so many vendors out there which allows dealerships a choice of who to do business with and creates more
competition amongst vendors. I always say, “What works for one dealership will not work for another dealership
for various reasons.” Which is why it is great to have this healthy competition.
When it comes to qualifying vendors that call on your dealership there are a few things that need to be handled
properly. There should never be any hostility toward the representatives that are calling on you because they might
have the solution that you are looking for. Let’s face it, no matter how great or successful we think we are there is
always room for improvement. There is always room to sell an extra ten cars per month or service an extra twenty cars
per month. The automobile business is very competitive and it is about setting goals. The vendors are hired help that
should make it possible to reach those goals in many cases. However, we still must know about that vendor’s
credibility and the credibility of the representative who is talking to us. For instance, if someone is trying to teach me
how to sell more cars or improve my sales process they better have at least three years working in a car dealership as
a salesperson who has struggled at one point and they better have been a manager at some level with responsibility
where they can share their experiences. It is just ridiculous to have someone with no sales or service background sit
down and try to have an intelligent conversation with a car dealership. It is also a waste of time for that dealer. There
are small exceptions to vendors that are just selling third party leads and different software because they are offering
a completely different kind of solution to dealers.
The bottom line is that we should appreciate every opportunity that we get on both the dealer and the vendor side.
While it seems like vendors can get bothersome to dealerships, they are out to make a living and provide a service
that might make numerous improvements. The dealerships that are willing to take the next step and consider their
options will be the most successful, not only because they are operated by open minded management, but because
they will be able to share their success with the public. This will, in turn, give the dealership a stronger reputation
while helping vendors grow. After all, it is very nice to see both parties thrive and grow simultaneously.