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Derrick Woolfson

Derrick Woolfson Business Development Manager

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Top Reasons to Find A Vendor that Fits Like A Glove

Taking on a new initiative can in many ways be overwhelming. There is often the fear of "are we going to get this right? Or "Do we really need this product. Will this product move the needle?" of which both are valid questions. It is these very questions, though that often prohibit us from taking the first step on a new project. Leaving us - on the dealer level - wondering what the next steps really are. The idea of are we catching onto a trend or a fad; one that can wind up costing us thousands of dollars in the long-run.

Beyond the nagging questions in the back of our minds, we also ask ourselves the same questions when it comes to partnering with the right vendor. Where you often hear the GM, Marketing Manager or Sales Manager ask the question "what are other dealers (OEM's) doing? What is working for them?" to which while the vendor can - in some ways - answer that question; each dealer has its own needs, no? Not all dealers - despite having the same OEM - are the same. So to latch onto an idea, itself because another dealer - with the same OEM is doing it - does not always make sense.  Keep in mind, though - the product the vendor offers might be the same, but the way in which you leverage the product for your dealership is not.

Another aspect we as dealers face is the demo phase; a phase that can cause for us to overthink the product. Asking questions that we might not otherwise ask. Questions that are often actually objections because deep down inside we are not one hundred percent sure whether or not to make the move. Just like in sales, we have to overcome the customer's objections; working with the customer to not just understand their needs, but to find the right vehicle. It is the same with vendors, and it takes the right account manager not just to understand the dealer's needs, but to actualize the dealer's goals. It is no secret that there are vendors who - once the dealer has signed up - are on autopilot. Not giving the dealer the time they need to devise a smart growth plan. One that could evolve into layering in additional products that will only compliment the foundation they have built.

As the title mentions, "finding a vendor that fits like a glove" is a crucial element in championing your dealer's success. To be a champion, however, they cannot be a one size fits all vendor. They need to be strategists who align their dealers with the right products and teams. But even more importantly, they have to mold the product around your dealer's goals. Beyond finding the right fit, your dealer has to have the right account manager - they are the pillars on which the partnership is built on. They to have to be a strategizer. One that works tirelessly to find the right content, spending a considerable amount of time before reaching out to their the dealer to discuss the plan of action.

The bottom line is that we have to move onward and upward, and that means finding the right vendor that understands our dealer's needs. The idea that while we might not have all the answers, and or are concerned with taking the next steps. It starts with interviewing the vendors, and in doing so, you can find the right fit. A fit that can take your dealer to the next level. With the idea that instead of having a singular focus of what the other dealers are doing that is successful - which can often only just increase the internal objections - focus on your dealership! Devising a plan of action with your respective account manager who can filter out the white noise, and get your dealers name out there.

What is holding you back from making the right partnership? Do you get caught in the autoloop of vendor demos?


 

Ted Gaines

100% agree, Derrick. The Account Manager/Client relationship is crucial to project success. Often, a new product or service is acquired in order to address a macro issue like, "turn cars faster" or "increase showroom traffic". A good vendor will work with the dealership to identify the micro drivers of those macro problems, and align those with their product features and capabilities to address and measure the impact. The best solutions (and relationships) happen when the vendor takes the time and energy to really understand the dealership's needs, processes, people and culture, and then adjusts implementation to accommodate all three. Look for vendor/partners who have the flexibility to adjust their offerings to suit the dealership's specific operations in order to provide maximum benefit.

Marie Nies

Very good Derrick, similar process for searching for good hires.

Derrick Woolfson

@Marie, that is a great point, which is why I have never been a fan of simply relying on the resume. The resume good look *great* but at the end of the day, it comes down to the employee fitting into the culture. In addition to how their skills can be layered into the dealer's goals, collectively. I cannot tell you how many times a candidate was hired, but they did not fit the culture, which meant they turned-over, costing us thousands of dollars, leaving us right back at square one. 

Derrick Woolfson

@Ted, thanks! Very true, the other thing too - on the note regarding macro problems - is the fact that many marketing vendors do not spend the dealers advertising budgets effectively. Wherein, if it is not optimized, they could eat through their budgets very quickly; leaving the dealer with abysmal results, spending far more money than necessary. 

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