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Derrick Woolfson

Derrick Woolfson Business Development Manager

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A Vendor Relationship is A Two Way Street

While it is expected that the vendor will maximize the results on the dealer level month after month - at the end of the day, your account manager is a human too. Having a solid relationship with the vendor and more importantly, your account manager is beneficial for many reasons. However, if we look at the account manager as simply an "account manager," it can have a negative impact for many reasons. Here are the top things to consider when managing your relationship with a vendor! 

Random Calls With No Agenda. They Are Good. But They Are Not Psychics. Have A Purpose for the Call.  

More often than not, the vendor wants nothing more than for your dealership to be successful. So while their product can, in many cases speak for itself when it comes to the results, they also need your input and feedback. The worst thing you can ask is "what are other (OEM) 's doing?" Sure, they can tell you what a dealership six hundred miles away did for one campaign, but that does not mean that it will do well in your local market. Instead of approaching the call from that perspective, offer "we need to move the [model], and our days to market supply is too high. How can we move these units?" Now that they have a clear objective, it not only makes the conversation more relevant, but it also enables them to devise a plan that is meaningful and relevant to your dealership. And this is by no means offering that this will work in every instance, or that the campaign will be a success. What this does do, however, is offers them the ability to create a plan of action! That is the purpose of having the call at the end of the day, no? 

Monthly Reports Call. Do Not Blow It Off. Pay Attention. Be Prepared. 

I am not a vendor, I still work on the dealer level. However, one thing I know is that their time is just as valuable as ours is on the dealer level. So not coming prepared for the monthly results call and or not having questions to ask not only wastes their time, it wastes your time, which can lead to frustration on both ends. Whereas, if you take the time to review the results, and look at the reporting, and prepare questions that are both meaningful and relevant, the meeting will be time well spent. Instead of repeating the same items, and or going through the motions, you are having a plan of action/strategy meeting! One that can lead to results! 

Do Not Interrupt the Account Manager. Have Respect. If You Are Distracted And Not Able to Pay Attention, Make Sure You Do Your Best to Avoid The Distractions. Bottom Line - Make Time for the Meeting. 

I get it. We are all busy. And while some of us will proudly state that we can multitask like a pro, the fact is that it is tough to multitask. The quality of our work is not at its best. So when it comes to a vendor meeting, make sure you have set aside time for the meeting and that you can pay attention. The other thing to consider and be mindful of is continuously interrupting them. That does not help anyone out. If you have questions, which you should, be sure to send them ahead of time. This way, they can address your questions/thoughts during the monthly call.

The other thing to avoid is randomly paging in a sales manager or any manager for that matter - who is not prepared - to the meeting putting them on the spot to answer questions they are unaware of. More often than not, if you put an employee on the spot, they will not always be able to answer the question effectively. All of which can lead to an indecisive conversation only leading to more confusion and frustration on your end. And before you get mad or frustrated with your managers - ask yourself, have they even seen this report? Did they know you had the call? Chances are they did not. 

Lastly, have respect. It works both ways. At the end of the day, whether good bad or indifferent they are doing their job. If you disagree or have a difference of opinion, that's perfectly fine! You should question what they are doing and how they are approaching your business plans. However, treating them with disrespect by not paying attention, not offering any insight or not being prepared only makes their jobs that much harder. Not to mention, it can put a strain on your relationship with not just the account manager, but also the vendor! Think about it, would you go out of your way for a customer if they do not respect your time or were disrespectful? Probably not.   

Bottom Line: simply turning a vendor on auto-pilot is not effective or conducive for anyone. As a dealership, it is just as much your responsibility to make sure you are getting the most out of the vendor relationship as its the vendor's responsibility to make sure you know what resources you have available. And to get the most out of the vendor's product starts by having a great relationship with your account manager and vendor. It also means that you take the time to be prepared for the meetings, asking questions, and most importantly, it is having a translatable goal or vision to discuss with the vendor. Lastly, if you have planned to have the account manager visit the dealership, it never hurts to take them to lunch or dinner. In doing so, it can give you the chance to discuss your goals, challenges, and concerns in a relevant way. Something as simple as a lunch or dinner to thank them for their efforts can go a long way! 

How do you manage the relationships with your vendors? What's one thing you have done to increase the engagement with your account manager? 
 

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