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Recently, I had a BAD experience with my long time vendor partner: TK Carsites while launching several new web sites for one of my clients: Jeff Batta owner of Marlboro Nissan and now the proud owner of a brand new open point: Milford Nissan. Those of you who know me know that it is no secret that I am both a vendor and a dealership employee. I've worked for Marlboro Nissan since 2004 and often represent our entire dealer group on all matters digital.
Early on I established a reputation for myself that was eventually boiled down by Brian Pasch as "The Animal". This was a much nicer moniker than the "a" word normally associated with my name if you were a vendor. I have retired more incompetent reps and more ex-carguy burnouts hiding in vendor world than you can shake a big stick at. I loathe incompetence. I detest laziness. "And I will strike down upon thee with GREAT vengeance and FURIOUS anger those who" make the mistake of thinking that I don't already know more about their product, and what is or is not realistic as it regards its limitations.
In other words: Screw up and I will ruin your day. Screw up again and I will ruin your bosses day. Lie to me and prey you are not in my physical presence at the time. Do I thrive on torturing people for their failures? Absolutely not, but I thrive on excellence. I expect it for myself and demand that anyone wishing to remain in my employ wether as a subordinate or a vendor care as much about my job, my company and my owner as I do and that they take it as a personal failure should they fall short of that high expectation. In short, I demand and expect those I work with to have a personal commitment to excellence.
It is because of the people I have surrounded myself with - that I have allowed to partner themselves and their companies with me that has allowed me to produce the exceptional results for which I am known. It is because of these excellent people and these excellent results that have allowed me to create my own company and strive to deliver those results for my clients. And it is still GROSSLY lacking in the vendor community as a whole.
When I first partnered with TK Carsites several years ago there were some growing pains and during that process I developed a great relationship with TK's CEO Richard Valenta. Through this relationship and my immediate recognition of his commitment to excellence we have done some amazing things in the arena of automotive seo and digital marketing in general. I have even had the privilege of taking part in the molding the next evolution of product offerings their company produces. So you can understand my shock when things fell short with the launch of our new websites.
There have only been three people I have encountered to date that I truly felt had the kind of personal commitment to excellence that I continue to strive to achieve: Brian Pasch, Richard Valenta, and now Chelsea Bailey. BACK TO MY BAD EXPERIENCE: The "FURIOUS anger..." quickly returned and I informed Richard of my dissatisfaction. ENTER Chelsea Bailey, Account Executive.
Now to be fair, I had a laundry list of things that were wrong and we are in beta with the platform that we launched on. So I KNEW there would be bugs, that's the deal you make for getting products before anyone else has them. Do it right, and you'll always have an edge. Since our first contact, I have received regular updates from Chelsea daily. Always summarizing our previous conversation. Detailing what is being done, what is taking longer and why as well as presenting options for me to consider for further improvement.
I continue to receive updates and communication(yes plural) from her as late a 2:30am which to be fair is 11:30 pm her time, but this is still an incredible commitment to her own personal excellence. Again, that's Chelsea Bailey, Account Executive. Not Director of Client Services, or Invested Partner. So it makes me wonder why more companies don't seek out and build a culture around employee's like this.
I challenge all of you in the vendor space to take stock of your employee's. Are you investing in them? Are you looking for your Chelsea Bailey's? Are you learning what makes them exceptional? Or are you afraid that they're more exceptional than you? Have we become so focused on metrics and SEO and Social Media and Online Reputation that we've forgotten what makes all of those other endeavors possible?
As a car guy I know inherently what often takes vendors years to understand. Automotive retail is a people business. I've watched vendors with their college degrees and brooks brothers memberships look in bewilderment at "us simple auto retail folk" mired in complete disbelief that we are in the positions we are in because of our "grass roots" approach to business. Simply because they fail to understand that it is a people business. Our skill or the skill successful dealers MUST have is the magical ability to relate to people. Short, tall, fat, skinny, democrat, republican, smart, stupid, whatever. We learn people. Period.
Doesn't it stand to reason that as a vendor your most valuable employee's would have some of those same skills? Show me that in your fancy powerpoint that I can't wait to end. Let me flip through that while you get your air card working. Then maybe, just maybe I'll give you a shot. This entire post exemplifies how a negative experience can turn in to one of the best experiences and create loyalty -- even a brand evangelist. Will I evangelize you next? Or will I just be another..."Animal"?