We’re sorry your last girlfriend hurt you: 10 Step Vendor Checklist

We’re sorry your last girlfriend hurt you. It’s hard to find someone you can really trust. 

Meeting with dealers across the country has illuminated a common grievance: automotive dealers universally have been burned by their vendors

It’s ironic because the same obstacle dealers face when trying to sell a car, the customer’s inability to trust, also hinders the dealer’s own opportunity to explore and experiment with new solution providers. Car shoppers and car dealers have fallen victim to the old bait and switch. Empty promises and straight up lies designed to simply close the deal. 

At first it struck me as odd that dealers, during product demonstrations, would outright accuse me of not being able to do what I told them we can accomplish for them. 

“Yeah, we’ve heard that before. *snarky giggle*”

“Nobody can get our incentives right. You all say you can and you all disappoint us.”

“Whoa there Missy, it’s different here in [insert literally any state], your tool won’t work for our customers/manufacturer/process.”

Damn. Jaded much?? I get it, once you’ve had your heart broken it’s hard to trust again. You invest time, money, and resources in a new technology only to learn it’s not at all what you thought. So, how’s a sweet dealer like you supposed to “get back out there”? 

Follow our “Don’t get burned by your vendor” checklist. A few simple investigative maneuvers before, during, and after your demo can save you a world of hurt later. 

  1. If there’s a PowerPoint presentation involved, ABORT! You need to see live examples. 
  2. Ask for proof: Case studies, white papers, peer evaluations, and references. ACTUALLY CALL THE REFERENCES and ask specific questions about results. If no one will vouch for the company or solution, run.
  3. Ask for a live look at stats, activity reports, etc, from active dealers. See what the reporting you’ll receive as a client looks like and make sure you understand measurable results.
  4. Get everyone in the room during the demo. If the decision-maker will not be the daily user of the tool, invite the internet manager, sales person, receptionist, lot attendant, and whoever else will be hands-on with your new toy. 
  5. Ensure the solution you are considering will not drastically alter your current processes. Small adjustments are expected but totally upending your current systems can spell doom for the new solution on the block. People fear change. Take baby steps and preserve those processes which are currently working well!
  6. Get buy-in before you sign. Involving your team in the decision to move forward will stack the deck in favor of a successful launch and integration. 
  7. Be involved in the setup to ensure you understand what you’re getting, what actions will be taken by your new provider, and what will need to be done by your team at the store to ensure success.
  8. Inspect what you expect. Before you launch, measure the baseline performance of your existing tools. Identify which areas should improve and measure early and often to ensure that expected gains are happening. If it’s not working, adjust quickly. 
  9. Understand the vision, values, and personality of the partner you are considering. What are the long-term goals and which specific pain points they solve for you today, and what are they working towards in the future? Do you like them? We call it technology but people still work with people. 
  10. Is the vendor transparent about their pricing? Is it on their website? If not… why not? 

    BONUS: If the sales person sounds like they are playing the “Industry Buzzword Drinking Game” and you’d be drunk after five minutes, just hang up the phone. 

Written on December 17, 2020

Written by Christine Plunkett

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