How Dealers Can Cultivate Successful Vendor Relationships
Increase your return on technology investments and keep your dealership ahead of the curve
As a dealer, one of your most important goals is to keep your relationships with customers, or potential customers, as healthy as possible. Building and maintaining a loyal customer base is crucial to a successful business.
But what about when it comes to your dealership’s other relationships—the ones you create and cultivate with vendors? These relationships are often neglected, but they have huge potential to boost success and growth.
Why? Because these personal interactions can make the difference between just having another dealership tool and maximizing that tool for the most success possible.
While you seek out products with the quality and technology to help you succeed, make sure to also seek out providers who are invested in your dealership’s progress, and are committed to helping you reach your goals long after the contract is signed.
Vendors must prioritize your success
The first step in choosing vendors for successful relationships is to realize that vendors are salespeople just like you, then pursue the qualities that you emphasize in your own process at your dealership. In short, look for vendors who treat you the way you treat your shoppers.
Here are some key qualities to look for.
Respect for your time
First and foremost, time is the most valuable thing on Earth. Anyone trying to sell to your dealership must display their desire to meet your needs efficiently.
Choose vendors that communicate their sensitivity to your time and schedule by understanding your busy times of the day and month, speeding onboarding as much as possible, and making their product easy to learn and implement.
With concierge services booming, this concept is more important than ever. Receiving a quality product in a timely manner is your customers’ expectation—and it should also be yours. Look for vendors who prioritize your convenience.
Honesty and passion
Some salespeople have given their own kind a bad reputation, thanks to centuries of opportunistic dishonesty.
Dealerships understand this problem intimately, knowing that a majority of shoppers walk into the showroom with their guards already up, ready to fight for a deal. Disarming potential customers as quickly as possible is the only way to move the deal forward in a mutually beneficial manner.
The same thing is true for vendors. They must make it clear they not only believe in their product, but also are truly interested in what your needs are.
You build trust by showing customers that you have their best interests in mind. The best vendors show how their product can address your specific goals.
Accessibility for follow-up
You know it’s important to be accessible to your customers from the beginning. They must feel like a priority to you and your dealership from the moment they meet you, whether online or in person—and this treatment should not stop after the purchase.
Accessibility is crucial for your relationships with vendors as well. If you’re going to integrate a product into your dealership’s workflow successfully, your vendors must be available to address concerns, troubleshoot, and help you continually make the most of their product.
Maximize vendor relationships
Once you choose vendors that understand your goals and are committed to working with you, it’s important to maximize those relationships so you continue to get the most out of your tools.
Here’s how to keep relationships going so you see the best results.
Spend the time on training and support
Work with vendors to come up with the best training plan for integrating new products into your dealership workflows. It can be hard to implement a new tool because routines are set and everyone is pressed for time.
That’s why it’s important to set your whole team up for success. If possible, bring in a representative from your vendor company to educate and train your staff so that everyone understands how to use the new product—and why using it will be valuable and helpful for them.
Establish key performance indicators (KPIs)
Your vendor should provide you with KPIs so you can track success effectively, and then use your feedback to continually improve performance.
Set up check-ins to communicate what’s working, and what’s not. You’ll get the help you need, and you’ll also be able to push the companies you work with to provide you with better service.
A receptive vendor will use your feedback to improve its product, so don’t hold back.
Keep the lines of communication open
Establish easy troubleshooting channels for your entire team.
Make sure everyone using the vendor’s tool knows how to get help if they need it. Keep the communication going and you’ll see greater success from your tools.
Set up long-term training
Training is not finished after initial setup. Request follow-up training from your vendor as your team’s questions and feedback become more specific, and as the product—ideally—develops new features.
You’ll keep your staff engaged, and be able to stay on top of any advancements so that your team maximizes the value of your dealership tools.
A good vendor is there to help you achieve your goals, so make sure to stay on the same page, keep your communication going, and continue to look for ways tools can benefit your dealership.
Maximizing these vendor relationships will increase your return on your technology investments, and keep your dealership ahead of the curve.
Daniel Rice is a regional sales manager at AutoLeadStar. With extensive experience in marketing and sales, he is passionate about bringing success to customers through mutually valuable relationship building. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.