As an industry, one of the unique components of the car business is that it is very specialized. Many of the general marketing and service vendors out there have a hard time working in the automotive industry. Conversely, the vendors who work in the automotive industry rarely venture forth into other arenas. This is just one of the many reasons that dealers who want to be successful need to work with companies that act as true partners.
I sold cars in a former life. I even spent some time running an internet department when most dealerships didn’t have an internet department. One of the things that I learned then that is even more important today is that finding vendors with aligned goals is the easiest way to insure a proper direction with their products and services. It’s less common than one might believe.
For example, there was a recent episode where automotive pricing company Edmunds put out a commercial that insulted many car dealers. Their goal with their one-price product is to give consumers a single price much the same way that many dealers and companies like True Car do for their dealers. The unfortunate part for Edmunds is that their video made the car business seem adversarial and it pointed a negative spotlight on techniques that most car dealers do not even use today.
Some vendors are working directly for the OEMs. This is a sticking point for many dealers because the franchise model, as necessary as it is, puts constraints on dealers that most of them do not like. Companies like vAuto, DealerOn, and Dealer Socket have been able to maintain a personal relationship with their dealers while still growing.
“At Dealeron we strongly believe that developing a true one-to-one partnership with our dealers’ is critical to their success and to ours,” said Amir Amirrezvani, co-founder of DealerOn. “As a company we feel that we are large enough to scale yet small enough to care.”
The biggest problem dealers face with vendors is finding the right mix of size and stability while still maintaining that personalized and agile feel. Companies come and go in the industry. Even the most promising can fall off if the right attention isn’t paid to making progress happen for the service as well as for the dealerships themselves.
As the car business continues to evolve to be a leader in modern ecommerce, dealers must look to vendors that have their best interests in mind.