As the market continues to adapt, and the world moves along, many dealerships are relying on their long-term relationships and systems to carry them through whatever comes next.
Outside vendors provide consistency throughout transitions and create tailored solutions. Where dealership staff have many different responsibilities, outside vendors can stay current because they are dedicated to a specialized area.
Here are five reasons why to use outside vendors.
This Is All They Do
The obvious reason to use outside vendors is their expertise. Dealership employees must know a lot about many things to be productive daily. An outside vendor is a specialist who is an expert on one thing.
Because an outside vendor focuses on their area of expertise, they can remain current on their specialty. For example, they have time to stay updated on practices that are not unlawful, as the lawyers would say. Unlawful finance disclosure or service writing techniques can leave you exposed.
A part of my specialty is to provide dealers modern, current write-up and negotiation tools so they do not wonder whether they will end up in court for deceptive practices.
Still Your Store
Outside vendors lean into their specialty but work for you. For example, I have exposure to over 500 dealerships I work with regularly, but no two are exactly the same. They have different goals and philosophies about how they want to operate and build their businesses moving forward.
A vendor’s job is to help you be better by customizing all their knowledge for you. Manufacturer representatives should be thorough experts on your products’ differences and should be presenting based only on your business’ practices and products sold.
I once watched a dealership remove a product representative because his presentation entailed how a salesperson could get away with the “gray area” in their RVs’ towing capacities. The dealership’s principles do not allow any practices that could harm customers or risk litigation. The replacement rep from the factory has worked with the dealership for over 10 years now because he understands whom he works for: the dealer.
They Do Not Want Your Job
Outside vendors do not want your job or anyone else’s in the dealership. They already have a full-time job. Employees do not feel threatened by them.
When employees recognize a vendor is there to help, there is no conflict of interest, just productive steps forward. Employees do not feel threatened by them. Dealers can have better quality conversations knowing a vendor is not playing politics to get a promotion.
Because the vendor’s job is to ensure productivity increases, and thus they interact with numerous organizations, outside vendors can avoid insular thought.
Most major university philosophy departments discourage undergraduates from pursuing their department’s graduate program because they fear graduates will end up thinking the same way and having the same conversations over and over. Instead, the departments encourage outside exposure to make sure students’ thinking does not become closed off.
Dealership owners and their staff work hard and are generally too busy to think beyond how they have always done things. Being comfortable with new ideas is difficult, whereas continuing the business’ practices is much easier. Outside vendors are motivated to help and give you a fresh perspective through a fresh set of eyes.
Scalability and Efficiency
Vendors already have done the proficiency work. They reduce the need to hire additional staff, save immense time and cost of continuously developing and re-developing in-house expertise, and reduce training costs.
When you need to scale, vendors have the systems to help you do so at the market’s speed. Simply put, when a dealer pays effective vendors to do their specialized jobs, the dealer saves time, money and stress. Dealers can trust the job will get done without being deprioritized in-house.
Relationships and Systems That Carry
Meaningful vendor relationships span many years. As people retire and move on from your business, the vendors’ systems enable smooth transitions. At many businesses I work with, I am among the longest-tenured employees.
Even the most loyal, effective, and hard-working employees can have family reasons to move across the country or life circumstances that adjust their working situation. Vendors do not.
I wrote the first half of this article on an airplane on my way to a dealership transitioning to its third generation of ownership. We are on our second generation with them. For over 22 years, we have had a partnership that enables the other to continue thriving because of consistent systems and principles.
Long-term relationships fuel real conversations and begin with the human element. I went to lunch recently with a dealer. He looked up from his lunch and said, “I just sometimes do not know what to do with this guy. He is capable, he is like family, but he is not stepping up the way he should be, and he always has an excuse for everything!”
The dealer was not looking for me to solve his problems or commiserate. This is a long-term employee, who will continue to be such. The dealer just had no one to vent to. He wanted to bounce some ideas off someone he knew and trusted.
As a dealer, he cannot vent down the chain of command without risking losing this employee. As a human in a long-term committed marriage, he learned he does not want to bring such problems home with him. Employees cannot vent up or down the chain of command either, but they can with trusted partners.
The Advantages Are There
When dealers develop long-term partnerships with outside vendors, they gain long-term marketplace advantages. Dealership staff have many responsibilities and can get stuck having the same conversation over and over, but vendors are freed up to stay current and compliant.
Because vendors have no interest in dealership politics or taking on dealership roles, the relationship enables a collaborative environment. Open discussions and fresh perspectives are followed with specialists’ expertise.
Long-term relationships provide an outlet for genuine discussions, contributing to the dealership’s sustained growth. On top of accessing expertise and tailored solutions, using outside vendors can provide consistency and stability to help throughout any transition in the dealership or the marketplace.
Jered Sobel serves as president of Sobel University, a company providing training for management, salespeople and consumers across North America. He is best known for designing the industry-standard onboarding sales training manual and co-authoring the consumer guide to purchasing an RV. Among his previous work experiences are roles as a dealership salesperson, a general sales manager and hiring dealer staff.