Best PracticesMar 7th, 2024

Are your Vendors also your Partners?

Are your Vendors also your Partners

Are you tired of paying for software that nobody uses?

Dealerships are loaded with technology that is underutilized. Some of this is due to the velocity of technology change which requires that we add new solutions to handle new problems. But, some of it is due to how we manage the software we purchase. We buy technology to solve problems. And, if we aren’t careful, we will buy software that will create new ones.

In retail automotive, it seems that every technology or SaaS purchase requires discussion and customization. At the very least, integration capabilities and OEM preferences must be researched and vetted prior to any purchase. New, innovative solutions – or potentially game-changing, disruptive technologies – require more communication and education with multiple stakeholders prior to any purchase. The risk of not thoroughly vetting the solution could mean downtime for staff members, integration problems, OEM penalties, or simply spending money for a software platform that is never used.

For dealers and vendors, achieving a good working partnership is key to the success of the product being implemented and used. True partnership is difficult to achieve. Both parties must be accountable to each other – and to the processes needed to implement a new technology as well as manage it moving forward.

It’s not just up to the Vendor. On the Dealer Side, there are responsibilities and expectations too.

Dealer Responsibilities:

The success of the product implementation is in the hands of the buyer - aka, the dealership. Dealership leaders should ensure that they have the necessary manpower and resources to take on the new technology – or rip and replace the old. Specific areas in which the dealership can prepare for success include:

  • Provide a consistent POC for the vendor during implementation and beyond.
  • Funnel complaints/issues, whenever possible, through that primary POC.
  • Respond in a timely way to vendor requests for information.

Dealer Expectations:

Dealerships can reasonably expect to receive detailed information about the onboarding process. During the sales / discovery process, ask the sales professional detailed questions about the onboarding, training and account management process, such as:

  • How long will it take to be fully implemented?
  • Will it immediately integrate with all of the existing dealership software?
  • Is there a guideline or checklist for the process?
  • Who needs to be involved from the dealership?
  • Who will be involved on the vendor side?
  • Will there be consistency in account management?
  • If there is a problem with the onboarding process, who can the dealership call?
  • What kind of training is provided?
  • If there are product updates, how will the dealership know?
  • If there is a staffing change, how will the dealership know?
  • What are the renewal and cancellation policies?

In the end, the old phrase “Buyer Beware” should be remembered. Once a technology is purchased, it is up to the dealership staff to implement and use it properly. The best way to do that is to proactively manage the relationship during the contracting process.

    Jennifer is the Founder of Sanford Marketing Group and combines strategic leadership with tactical, hands-on execution to achieve revenue goals and deliver brand excellence to the automotive retail industry. 

    Committed to a people-centric leadership approach, Jennifer fosters diverse, digital-centric teams that support sales teams and customers in the automotive retail industry.

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