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One of my very first dealerships I had with S.M.A. Alliance was a local dealership, around twenty minutes from my house. These dealers are usually the best because you can establish a relationship with them and put a face behind your company, whereas in other situations, I have been a representative that has worked solely over phone and e-mail.

 

In the month of December, the Internet manager, who I was very close with, informed me that the owner had cut advertising for the last two weeks of the month and would re-start with our program January 1st. Now, in cases such as these, protocol commands that I turn off all the accounts and feeds with the dealerships information on it-including the phone number that the calls and leads come to (we control it). I knew protocol, but I weighed in my mind that it was Christmas time, people were searching for a car and shutting our number down would only prevent customers from being able to inquire about the dealership's leads. And PLUS, the Internet manager had promised that in two weeks the dealership would be right back on track...

 

I made an exception that I was not completely unauthroized to do, but not completely authorized to do either. In the remaining two weeks, I watched the importance of following protocol: protocol, that horrible Scrooge that is designed to except ZERO exceptions. The IT worker for the dealership found some way to log into our portal and changed our own logins and passwords. All of our codes and posting information is located within the accounts and all tied together to build up our other accounts (a Craigslist strategy). While the dealership was not paying for services, they were using our accounts and information and were changing our information, not realizing the potential damage of their actions.

 

When you build multiple things with multiple things, if one thing goes down, the whole structure goes down. When they changed our information, it completely re-wrote our scripts, which in turn, completely ruined all accounts associated with that dealership. Our company was smack dab in the middle of two week free trials for Christmas when all the sudden, the Ghost of Christmas Present decided to make a grand appearance. It affected our two weeks trials that I was in charge of not to mention, put a very bad situation in motion with the current dealership.

 

There was no one to blame other than me. Protocol and rules are installed for a reason and even if it sounds better to make an exception and more practical, I am sure those that wrote the protocol thought about that or had a similiar instance occur which is why they imposed those rules. Establishing a relationship with your main contact in a dealership isn't abnormal, and I believe when it is done correctly, it is very valuable. But you always must make sure that the relationship is not above the rules and with the right person authorized to make the decisions that you are relying on.

 

Letting a business relationship trump protocol without express permission is OUTRAGEOUS...but if you ever faced with a similiar siuation, maybe this will help avoid a truly life learned lesson.

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