“We only use OEM-approved vendors.”

Well, Bless. Your.  Hearts.

So, let me get this straight. You want your website to look identical to your competitors? You want your advertising to match the dealer down the street? You’d like nothing to differentiate you from everyone else?

I can’t help but shake my head in amazement when a dealer haughtily exercises his or her right to lemming-walk off the cliff of mediocrity. Like somehow vendors should hang our heads in shame for not being “manufacturer approved.” Barf. I hate to generalize but many manufacturers wouldn’t know an innovative solution for your dealership if it jumped up and bit them on the ass. Rather, their “approval” is a result of politics, relationships, and a desire to do as little work as possible while ensuring dealers stay in line.

Manufacturers can not help optimize your dealership to outshine your nearest like-brand competitor. It doesn’t even make sense. Sure, they’d like for you all to sell plenty of cars, but they have no skin in the game of YOU beating THEM. So why on God’s green Earth do so many dealers fall politely in line with the OEM products?? A lack of creativity, intelligence, and initiative? Laziness, cowardice, and obedience??

Yes. All of the above. Also, occasionally, it’s the money honey. “Is your tool co-opable?” Umm.. do you want a paid for piece of junk or an effective solution at a fair price? The co-op objection is simply a cover for laziness. It admittedly takes time and effort to vet new vendors with untested solutions. Wouldn’t you WANT to pay a bit of tuition once in a while to learn what you don’t know?

Smart dealers know that trial and error is part of the game. You can’t win without taking some risks. Vendors can’t possibly demonstrate our worth in a phone call or even a series of meetings. For one thing, most vendors lie their plaid checkered pants off in demos. They sell you a buttery filet mignon and deliver puppy chow. Honest vendors with actual cool shit suffer from the reputation of snake oil salesmen.

Exert some control of your dealership’s destiny by being brave enough to balk at OEM mandates and spend a bit of that processing fee fund on a little guy every once in a while. Demand a month-to-month agreement and track your results. If it ain’t working, cut your losses. If it DOES work, you’ll pay a little for a lot more sales and have the dealer down the street scratching his head.