To streamline operations, improve profits and satisfy customers, dealers look to vendors for innovation that can put them ahead of the competition. But when it comes to retaining a dealer's business over the long haul, a personal touch goes a long way.
Dealers want partners who have done their homework about the dealership they're pitching and who are transparent about pricing and results. And dealers appreciate face time -- whether it's for an initial product pitch or part of a regular schedule.
Quarterly visits can assure dealers that their vendors care about their stores' operations, even as they demonstrate how instrumental the vendor product is in that success.
"I call that the 'boots-on-the-ground' approach," says Jeff Proctor, managing partner at Metro Honda in Montclair, Calif. "There's a lot of great technology companies out there that don't really understand what dealers need to drive their business."
Vendors willing to help dealerships implement their products -- and provide important training and guidance -- are likely to create long-term client relationships.
Dealers who call or email their vendors also expect accountability. Consistently failing to answer dealers' calls is a sure way to stop the phone from ringing at all. After all, going to market with new technology requires proper training and consistent support from the vendor.
Vendors that follow up with their customers and visit the stores whenever possible are proving their commitment to their clients and are more likely to have staying power in the marketplace. If they listen to dealer feedback about problems with a product or service and respond by innovating and solving problems, vendors will do more than stay afloat.