Our own Paul J. Daly and Kyle Mountsier delivered a talk on the practices and purpose behind great dealer/vendor partnerships. Driven by their own experience in the space and a belief that everybody wins when we band together, they brought a spirit of fun and collaboration that diffused the tension around the jump from seeking to get to seeking to give.
Paul and Kyle started by explaining the foundational moment most strong partnerships begin to fray.
"They need to understand___"
Problems between the dealer and vendor side often stem from a simple lack of understanding and an uncommunicated expectation. The ‘THEY need to understand’ statement indicates a toxic and inflexible perspective. There are disruptors in the industry and barbarians at the gates. Clinging to a need to be understood before communication can begin will limit our ability to do anything about them.
Create content around the understanding you feel your partner lacks. A one-minute video showing the fine details of a requested change, decision, or solution can help your partner understand more of your point of view in a non-confrontational, progressive way.
So the question remains: How do we build a scenario in which everyone wins?
The solution to the proposed problem starts with a mindset change. Not a back and forth transaction, but a shoulder to shoulder push toward the best possible customer experience. A commitment to a genuine partnership will lead to the best customer experience. The entire industry has to evolve past a system of delicately balancing giving and getting, or the customer experience will always be the second priority.
The components of a partnership:
Make your partnership with a vendor more than a tool your store uses. Facilitate a relationship between the vendor and your team. Do not give the keys to any connection to a single team member. Getting your whole crew on the same page regarding a product will help match the tools with the
The best tech in the world cannot work for you if you hate the people selling it. Seeking a cultural alignment may seem senseless when metrics insist a product is the best option, but even the best tool only works if you and your team use it.
Being able to say "no," honestly, clearly, and early will save everyone time and energy. Sometimes it will be cultural or mismatched goals, but it occasionally will be a specific skill, talent, or service the partner does not offer. Any of these reasons are enough to say "no thanks," "no more," or "maybe later."
Clearly defining success:
Write down the goals your partnership will aim to achieve. Consider a few foundational questions as you establish the relationship moving forward.
-How will our team engage together?
This answer needs to be realistic and genuinely considered by all parties before a commitment is written down.
-What would we like to accomplish together?
Summarizing what you hope to achieve eliminates assumptions and establishes a baseline to study progress moving forward.
How will we measure our progress toward that goal?
Both sides of the partnership should define and measure how the partnership provides value.
How long are we willing to wait to see measurable results?
Setting a timeline of success has to be more than an equation of how long it takes service to pay for itself.
How long until we should review this agreement?
Evaluating the partnership every 90 days or so will lead to greater understanding and quicker, more transparent communication. Don't let minor problems boil over into more significant issues, make time to talk regularly.
Paul and Kyle finished the room by inviting dealers and vendors alike to think about the web of companies and people who genuinely make or break the customer's experience. A commitment to true collaboration through ever-expanding partnership thinking is a commitment to providing the best customer experience possible.