As we work with more and more dealers, we're starting to see some trends in the way that digital marketing is being handled. In some cases, dealers aren't fully aware of everything they're supposed to be getting from their vendor partners. This can be challenging because most vendors that we've seen over the years will only give you what you expect from them.
Part of my responsibilities with Dealer Authority is to make certain that promises are kept, not just by us (that's the easy part) but also by other vendors we have to work with on behalf of the dealers. A case in point happened last week when had to hound a website provider for a demonstration of their new product. One would think that keeping a current client happy would be the top priority, but after a couple of scheduled meetings postponed and a dealer wondering what was going on, we finally made contact. The strange thing is that the new platform they showed us seems to be a great improvement but the bad taste they left in the dealer's mouth by not making it happen more quickly might lead them to having us find them a new website provider.
There are many reasons that a dealer isn't certain about what their providers are actually providing. Sometimes, it's just turnover; a new internet manager can have a challenge getting to know everyone that their predecessor had established for the dealership. Sometimes, it's just a matter of having a fluid and accurate process for monitoring their vendor partners. This is what I want to addess here with some tips I've accumulated over the last couple of years.
- Know Everything in the Contract: This can be an Excel spreadsheet, it can be tied into a full-blown project management systemt, or anywhere in between. You should be able to go to one place and find out how much you're spending (broken down by components), how long the contract lasts, what the cancellation requirements are, and most importantly what all is entailed with everything you're getting. This last part is where we often find the biggest gap. We've worked with dealers who, upon closer inspection of the contract, were not receiving everything they were promised in the initial agreement.
- Schedule Monthly Meetings with Everyone Together: When going over results and adjusting strategy, it can be very useful to have all parties on the phone at the same time. We were on a call Friday with String Automotive who facilitated a meeting with the dealer, the website provider, the PPC provider, the SEO company, and the social media company to devise an attack strategy for this coming month. These calls are crucial to make sure that if we're trying to impove sales of a specific vehicle in a specific zip code, that we're able to all be lockstep in our strategy and implementation. Brainstorming together works well which is why we really appreciate all that String does to make this happen.
- Force Vendors to Keep You in Mind with New Developments: I've worked for several vendors since leaving the retail side of the car business and one thing seems to be universal: the new stuff goes to new clients. It's not fair. You should never have to hear about the latest development by a vendor by reading a press release. In our world, the squeaky wheel really does get the grease, so make sure they don't forget to give you the real stuff. When negotiating new contracts, remember to include a clause about it. You want the new stuff. You don't want to be a guinea pig, but you want the stuff that the new clients are getting.
- Keep a Record of Every Interaction: Just as you log every call and email into a CRM when talking to your customers, so do the vendors. They know every communication. You should, too. It can be tedious without an appropriate process, but if you have a CRM that you like, you can treat your vendors like your customers. Just make sure they're separated.
Every day, we're forced to hold other vendors accountable for our clients. This is great if you have us, but if you're doing it on your own, I hope that these little tips will help you make the most out of your digital marketing.