The Best Idea contest is one of my favorite events at DSES. It is always refreshing to see new and innovative ideas presented by those who also work on the dealer level. One of the ideas presented this year - albeit while it was not necessarily new - was the auditing of your dealers SEM company. The idea that your dealer might not be getting its monies worth out the service they are using! And while it might seem to be common sense on the surface the fact is very few dealers ever question and or hold their vendors accountable.
Given that the profit margins are shrinking it is essential for us to start paying attention to what our vendors are offering us. And if our vendors are not bringing results to the table we have to realize that the issue is not always because we are not “spending enough.” Whereas, the vendor has not delivered on their end which is causing for there to be a decline in traffic. That said, here are some of the top things to consider when reviewing your reporting:
Monthly Results: Changes are Hard to Make on A Mid-Month Phone Call.
It is also important to review the monthly results, and in doing so you can hold the vendor accountable. More often than not, dealers will not call the vendor to discuss the results until mid-month, which does not provide the dealer enough time to make changes and or see any results in the changes made. The other issue with this approach is that because there is not a solid plan in place it makes it that much harder to make a well thought out decision; one that will bring great results on the dealer level.
Vendor Management: Communication is a two-way street.
As mentioned above, it is hard to see results if you are making changes mid-month on spend. That said, communication is a two-way street, and while your vendor is responsible for delivering results you have to communicate what it is you are asking for! A vendor cannot make changes if you do not communicate with them. For example, if your vendor is not located in the same market as you are then their plans for a local dealership might not work out for you! One of the top questions that dealers ask is “what other (OEM) have you done marketing for? And what campaigns work best?” - on the surface, it sounds like a great question, right? But it is not the best question! Each and every market is different, and to base your entire months spend on non-local comparison does not make the most sense. Instead, you have to analyze your own market and understand what the areas of opportunities are!
For example, if there is one OEM vehicle that you are not selling well in your market, but your competitor is then it is important to review how you are marketing that vehicle. Looking to see what impression share you have not to mention how many inquiries or VDP clicks you are getting. If you are not getting any traffic on the unit than it could be pricing, marketing, etc. But you will not know this if you are asking your SEM company to do what their local OEM did.
Bottom Line: it is important to hold your vendor accountable. There is nothing worse than spending money on marketing efforts to not see the results. However, in order to get the best results for your dealership, it is best to have open communication with your vendor. Taking it one step further, it is also a good idea to have a meeting with your vendor monthly to review the current results and see what if anything you need to do to realign your efforts. Lastly, it is important to review contracts to understand what you are getting for what you have paid.
How Do You Manage Your Vendor Relationships? Do You Plan Ahead for Marketing?