A few weeks ago, we posted our Vendor Visit Protocol, which is a guide to scheduling time to review both new solutions and evaluate existing solutions alike. I’d like to add a corollary to those rules.
As we’ve stated many times before, we are exposed to tons of solutions for dealers. The other day I counted 16 CRMs that we’ve worked inside of alone. Many of our clients rely on us to help them select vendors when that time comes (we never force the issue; we answer when they ask), which usually means that we sit-in on the demo.
Most of the demos follow the same trajectory. Asking about current solutions, discovering pain points, etc. Invariably we get to the “who is using our stuff” part. Then we get to hear the names of a bunch of well known dealer groups, with the expectation of “oohs” and “aahs” to follow. Ostensibly, this is meant to impress the inquiring dealership. Here lies the problem: these example dealerships bear little resemblance to the inquiring dealership.
Let’s think this through. The number one Ford dealership in the country has been number one long before most of today’s technology was even invented, INCLUDING THE INTERNET. It’s like saying Tim Cook and I both use Apple computers, so I am equally qualified to run Apple. Or, Kobe Bryant and I both wear Nikes, so I can score more points than Michael Jordan over my career in the NBA. When you think about it, it’s really that ridiculous.
Luckily, the solution is simple. When the provider in question starts the name dropping, ask them about dealerships similar to yours. You know, another Subaru dealership in the Rustbelt, maybe a small market Honda dealership with a Toyota dealership next door, or a single-point Jeep store anywhere. Ask about results relative to brands represented, size, location, and demographic composition of the market, and organization of the retail side of the business. Comparing the results of an import dealership in 3.25 million person market vs. a domestic dealership in 130,000 person market is like comparing apples to toenail clippers. If you’re doing the pitching, do some due diligence, and already have examples prepared. Although we’ll never find an exact match, let’s at least try to make sure we’re comparing the same things. Both parties will win.
A strong vendor/dealer partnership can create an unstoppable force of success, especially when both parties are using their time efficiently. But, let’s make sure we’re maximizing more than time. It’s imperative that we nurture relationships that are a good fit between product and dealership. Stop using and accepting benchmarks that don’t relate to the individual store. It’s the next step to making the dealer world a better place.