Choosing the right vendors to maximize operations is an ongoing challenge for dealers. Especially in the digital age, more and more vendors — startups and veterans combined — are vying for dealers' attention.
Even as dealers cope with known pressures, such as margin compression and rising interest rates, the fear of being left behind as the industry evolves has them scrambling for the right software, solution and digital tool or process to get ahead of competitors.
"Customers have more information at their fingertips than ever," said Matt Woods, director of field operations for Service Group, a finance and insurance company in Austin, Texas. "The dealers who create the best customer experience will win."
But selecting the right companies to create that experience — smoothing the sales processes for dealership employees and consumers alike — is challenging.
Dealerships rely on vendors for innovation but lament the cost of too many third-party applications. The F&I office needs to be equipped with solutions for compliance and security as well as tools for an efficient, transparent and interactive process to keep customers engaged.
In a sea of vendors, digital solutions come and go like the waves of auto retail. Dealers are seeking vendors that understand the dealership processes, offer dependable customer service and significantly improve operations.
Meanwhile, vendors fight to distinguish themselves in an over-saturated marketplace, pitching their services to wary dealers. Building a network of dealership clients in multiple marketplaces can help get vendors through the door, and utilizing dealer feedback can help them adapt their technologies to dealership demands.
In this special section, Automotive News highlights methods dealers use to vet and select their vendors and the combined efforts of all parties to advance the auto retail and finance landscape to match the pace of innovation consumers are experiencing in other industries.