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Joe Webb

Joe Webb Founder / Trainer

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The Vendor Circle Jerk

 

Stuck in the middle.  It’s the worst place to be as a dealership and as a dealership employee.  Yet, it happens more than it ever should.  The phrase “Don’t kill the messenger” exists because, far too often, it is the messenger that gets in trouble…whether it is their fault or not.  This is the life of an Internet Sales Director when stuck in the middle of a vendor circle jerk.

While on-site training a new client, we discovered an issue with their inbound lead submissions.  Both sales and service leads were being sent in from their website provider under the same email address into a CRM that differentiates leads based on inbound email address.  In other words, whether it be a sales or service customer, it comes into a system as leads@abcmotors.com. The CRM reads it only as a new sales lead, and pushes it to the ISM instead of to a more appropriate party.  When asking the CRM to find a new way to differentiate where the leads are funneled, they said “Talk to the web provider and tell them to submit it under a new email address such as serviceleads@abcmotors.com”.  When reaching out to the web provider, they tell the dealer, “reach out to the CRM company instead and tell them to look for the keyword ‘service’ in the lead comments.”  And so begins the vendor circle jerk.

Internet Sales Managers and Directors are forced to be the middle men (or women) when communication needs to occur between two pieces of software.  This has to stop.  It should not be the responsibility of the Internet Sales Manager to figure out why a feed from the Inventory management tool isn’t directing all data into a inventory listing lead provider.  It isn’t their job to have to pass messages from one entity to the other.  The dealership employee doesn’t have the time. 

Vendors are paid, not just for their technology, but for their continued support and service.  I believe that a committed vendor should take it upon themselves to contact the other company’s representative and sort it out.  Do you remember being in school and playing the chain message game where you tell a phrase or two to the first child, ask them to pass it along, and by the time the message gets to the 10th and final child, it is completely different.  Messages get lost in translation.  Problems will not get solved using a third party messenger.  We need to instruct our vendors to communicate between themselves without putting us in the middle of a vendor circle jerk.  ‘He says, she says’ is not the way to get anything done quickly.  Vendors, stop relying on the dealership team to do your communication for you.  Be proactive and solve it.

I must admit… sometimes dealers do this to themselves.  They put themselves in the middle of the circle jerk because they are control freaks and want to see it through.  Sometimes, they even include others into the mix. Quite often, we at DealerKnows are the messengers for our clients.  It is frequent we receive an email stating “Can you pass this along to (vendor name) so they can put this up on our website?”  While we always serve our clients to the fullest, adding an extra person into the mix is just going to disrupt the message rather than sending it on directly.  In the end, even we are trapped in the vendor circle jerk, hearing it from both sides.  “Tell them this.”  “They should be doing that.”  “This isn’t right…it’s supposed to do this instead.”  Vendors… do your clients a favor, take the reins on these issues, glitches, and changes and contact the other vendor directly.  Work together and get to the bottom of the issue. 

So listen up, CRM companies, inventory management software corporations, website providers, Craigslist pushers, DMS solutions and the lot… Keeping the dealer out of the vendor circle jerk will make them happier and make you look less like a jerk.  Isn’t that what we all want

 

 

Russ Chandler
Quite the title you got there lol. Anyway I can relate to this since I have 5 locations and handle all of the vender reps. We are constantly changing and trying new stuff so I'm always in the middle of all of it. And yes we are way to busy for a lot of it. However the times I have left it up to the vendor, more times then not I was disappointed on some level. Some dealers may not be very observant to the details but in my opinion details are what sets you apart from other dealers. Vendors do not pay attention to details and when they do its generally not the right details. On top of that you will always get more value out of the service or software your paying for by staying involved to the point where you squeeze everything to reach its potential. With that said I do believe there is much room for improvement in the process at which venders, dealers, and other venders communicate and complete projects. There is even more to be said about the dealer employee's that handle it, someone that knows what they are doing can make things smoother, quicker, and get more bang for the dealers buck. Dealers should spend the extra money for someone who can hand projects start to finish and quit looking at the position like its not crucial.
Joe Webb
You are absolutely, right, Russ. Sometimes it DOES take a dealership representative to be the driving force necessary to ensure vendor work gets completed in time correctly. (Isn't that sad?) I would never say a dealer should hire someone whose sole responsibility is to cover for the support team of the vendors they choose...as that is defeating the purpose. Just choose better vendors. I believe you are correct as well that simply opening up a connected dialogue (possibly through video chat) with all vendors involved in the issue might be beneficial as then the dealer that is experiencing the problem can play mediator and steer the conversation forward rather than backward.
Jim Bell
Preach it to the choir Joe! That is one of the most frustrating things for an Internet Director/IT/Marketing Manager/BDC Manager...insert title. If a sales manager notices something wrong on the net, they come to you, then we all have to go find the problem. The technology is obviously there, and we shouldn't have to find all of the holes that it may have. I have had my fair share and one comes to mind where I was on the phone with reps at 10:00 on a Friday night trying to work through an issue at hand. Communication is the key between vendors and the dealership and sometimes there is that disconnect that makes it so frustrating and gets thrown in our laps.
Joe Webb
I hear you, Jim. There is nothing worse than when another manager finds the issue and believes your irresponsibility is the root cause. Even if it is the vendor's issue, you are the one who must see it through and yet often vendors don't have the same opposing force breathing down their necks to make it go away.
Russ Chandler
@Joe I wouldn't say hire a new position but be clear about the responsibilities of current positions and their priorities. This type of issue and who should be responsible for it is rarely clear and somehow bounces between sales managers to digital managers taking even longer to be resolved. In our dealership we have basically taken the store manager out of the equation and have the venders work directly with me. Seems for the time being to be the best option but is quite time consuming.

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