What is it that brings dealer clients back to a vendor year after year? Certainly, some of it is Business 101: Helping them make money. Helping them save money. Reducing their liability and increasing their regulatory compliance. All these things help provide a measurable ROI.
Of course, the most important element is exceptional customer service. Nearly every organization pays lip service to customer service. But is your organization truly exceptional? Are your people truly responsive to a dealer’s needs? Do they move heaven and earth to get things done right now? Are they looking for innovative ways to solve a dealer’s problem? Do dealers feel like their vendor teams listen, and are truly committed to the dealer’s success?
If you provide value, prove your ROI and have great people providing concierge-level service, congratulations. You are off to a great start. But, of course, there is always more to the story. In addition to your company’s focus on the dealer, we’ve found several other product and service attributes just beneath the surface that are imperative to winning – and then keeping – a client’s business.
- Does your service manage a business function essential to a client’s operation?
- Is it easy to get started?
- Is it easy to use?
- Do you help your clients measure their performance?
Does your product or service manage a business function essential to a client’s operation?
If you manage a key part of their operation, you will make yourself indispensable. The more your services are integral to clients’ day-to-day operations, the more they will have to have it. Think about your clients’ workflow and ask yourself, “What part of their operations can we manage so they don’t have to?” If you can take a portion of their business and do it better, faster, cheaper, then you’ve got your first step to a long-term relationship.
How easy is it to get started?
Once you’ve identified the portion of the business they can outsource, ease of implementation is the next important step. If implementation requires significant hours of staff training with a steep learning curve and multiple visits to the client site to get things up and running, clients will see that as a significant barrier to full adoption (and likely cancel).
How easy is it to use on an ongoing basis?
Once a client is up and running, how simple is it to use the product or service? Is it fully automated, or does it require constant intervention from your team? How often does the client call you for support?
When they do have a question, how responsive are you? Hours? Days? Or minutes? Do they reach a human who answers the phone? Are you there to solve their problem, or is the knee-jerk reaction to point out issues on their end?
Complicated operations and lack of service and support will likely doom any new product or service to failure.
Do you help clients measure and improve their performance?
If it’s worth doing, it’s worth measuring. The key is to provide a set of easily definable metrics that show the value of your products/services.
Of course, the bottom line is always the bottom line. Quickly and easily showing ROI on an ongoing basis is the single best method for recognizing how dealers’ actions provide value.
In addition to the essential element of providing exceptional customer service, any vendor that excels in these four areas will have long and productive relationships with clients of all shapes and sizes.
Making operations, startup and implementation turnkey and constantly measuring your performance are some of the best ways to make clients happy – and have them view you as a long-term partner.
Mark Paul (pictured, above left) is CEO of AutoAp, a Beaverton, OR-based company providing recall management solutions to help franchised and independent auto dealers, automotive solutions providers, fleet management companies, corporate and government fleets and rental car companies.