If you have been following Automotive Digital Marketing or Dealer Elite recently, you have have probably heard the chatter about True Car and Zag. I myself have weighed in on the conversation, but I won’t rehash my opinion here. Instead I want to talk about how a dealer can better ensure that a vendor truly has their best interest at heart.
I am sure that you have had dozens if not hundreds of digital product vendors come to you extolling the virtues of their immaculately scrubbed leads and incredibly sticky micro sites. It is easy to get caught up in the ROI or closing percentages and lose sight of what the relationship between your dealership and this vendor will consist of.
With most automotive digital products your dealers data (DMS) will need to be accessed and polled to this vendors platform so that you can begin hosting your inventory there and receiving leads.
These are some questions that seldom get asked and could be very telling about a vendors intentions. I am sure there are more and would love to hear them from my peers in the field.
- What data will you need access to? (Can you block them from the rest?)
- Where else is my dealerships data to be sent?
- What other vendors are they partnered with and will they share my data?
- Are you reselling another vendors product?
- Is this platform proprietary to you or are you piggybacking on another product?
- Are these leads being sold or sent to any other dealers?
- Will your company sign a rigorous privacy agreement? (Does your dealer have one?)
- What security measures does your company take to prevent my inventory from being scraped and used on other sites?
In some cases, you will have the ability to restrict the sharing of your dealerships data and it will be up to you to make that call. The vendor may try and press the matter by telling you that their program “works best when in conjunction with….” This will be your moment of truth, do you use them or not. In my opinion there are not a lot of digital products out there that you cannot live without. Especially those that need to send your data all over the automotive universe to to be effective.
I have often said said that I am most loyal to the vendor partners that I have learned from. Those are the people that I have been doing business with for many years and am still learning from. We have evolved to an age where vendor sales people no longer need to actually visit you at your store. I prefer to have a vendor visit with me on a regular basis (every two or three months) if I am spending more than $500 a month for their services. I do not need for them to swing by and drop off a box of doughnuts, I expect more from a vendor partner. Vendor sales people that know enough about what I do, to help me grow and do it better are the ones I am most loyal to and always will be.