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Vendors: Don’t Be So Darn Annoying!

As a PR professional, my primary goal is to assist my clients in achieving the most exposure possible and build top-of-mind brand awareness among their potential customers. To help better understand how to best position my clients for success, I did a little research on how dealers perceive vendors and their practices.


I reached out to Bobbie Herron, Digital Sales and Marketing Manager for the Garber Automotive Group. Herron was recently named to Automotive News’ “Retail 40 under 40” list and she was kind enough to share a few things with me that vendors do to irritate her, causing them to potentially lose her business.


Herron responded with what irritates her, along with some best practice tips on how vendors can better approach dealers as follows:


  1. “I’m a very progressive person and willing to try new solutions if I feel that they will benefit the stores in my group. One of the things that irritates me is when a vendor asks me to participate in a beta test of their product and then wants to charge me for it. In my opinion, I’m doing them a favor. They are getting access to my data and getting feedback from me as a user, which assists them in fine-tuning their product. This is very valuable data for them to have and for them to try and charge me for it is ridiculous.”
  2. “When a vendor reaches out to me trying to solicit their product or service, my first piece of advice is to back off with the constant calling and e-mailing. Most vendors don’t provide me with any useful information in these communications. I either get a generic voicemail or an obvious e-mail template that offers me no reason to return their call. The best way for a vendor to earn my business is to learn about me and my stores before they contact me. Give me a reason why their product is a good fit, with examples and data specific to my group. Most of the time, it is obvious that I’m simply on a list and have been placed on a CRM cycle. That drives me nuts. If a vendor doesn’t care enough to take time to learn about me, and can’t provide me with a thoughtful and logical argument for why their service will help my group, then they won’t get my attention.”
  3. “Vendors who approach me with over-the-top claims and promises might as well stop. I know this business very well. If you think you will earn my business by making outlandish claims that are impossible to achieve, you’re wrong.”
  4. “When I get calls from vendors that actually do get through to me, have managed to get my attention, then cannot answer my questions, they’re done. If you’re going to try and sell me something, at least know your product and enough about the automotive industry to give me practical examples.”
  5. “The fastest death sentence a vendor can achieve is by overstepping a hierarchy. I understand that the obvious assumption most vendors make is that they need to contact either the General Manager or Dealer to speak with a decision maker. The fact is that there are many stores in which an Internet Director, e-Commerce Director, or Digital Marketing Manager are the actual decision makers. Make an effort to know who the decision makers are. There’s nothing I hate more than being called into one of my General Manager’s offices to be confronted with a vendor who managed to skip over me. They’re only going to throw the vendor back to me. Even worse is when I walk into a meeting in which a vendor proceeds to criticize and blast all of the things we’re already doing in an effort to prove how much their product or service will improve our existing marketing.”


Herron didn’t stop there, however. She also had some valuable advice for her existing vendors as to the three things they do that make her question their partnership:


  1. “One of my biggest pet peeves is a vendor who never reaches out to me. I feel like once they got my business, they stopped caring. They should be reaching out to me regularly; if only to check in with me and see if I have any questions. Many vendors don’t do this very simple thing and then wonder why the dealer cancels their service. Maybe if they had ensured that the dealer knew how to use their product properly, and were using it to its fullest potential, they wouldn’t have lost a client.”
  2. “Many vendors, especially at the start of the relationship, will automatically advise me to change my process to whatever process their best clients are using, without taking the time to learn my existing process. Rather than trying to transform everything we do immediately, they should take the time to see how their product or service can fit in with what we are already doing. I’m not opposed to changing processes if they will help my stores sell more vehicles, but don’t come in with guns blazing and shoot down everything we’re already doing before even knowing what those things are.”
  3. “Last, but not least; when one of our existing vendors makes additions or changes to products or services we are already using without notifying me. One of the first things I do at each conference I attend is visit the booth of every vendor we use. I have them give me a product demo as if I were a prospect, rather than an existing customer. By doing this, there have been many times where I have learned of new features or services that I already had, but didn’t know about.”


Taking the time to listen to feedback from a dealer can help all of us vendors better evaluate practices so as to offer our clients a first class experience; from prospecting to customer service. Dealers share stories about companies and products in the same ways that consumers do about dealerships. Every employee and customer touch point shapes a company’s personality. Knowing what irritates potential and existing clients is the first step to earning and keeping business. To your success!

Views: 2482

Tags: automotive, barber, communication, digital, industry, marketing, news, public, relations, relationships, More…service, solicitation, vendors


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Comment by Tom Gorham on August 3, 2014 at 5:23am

That's fine Brian.  For once we agree.

Comment by Brian Bennington on August 2, 2014 at 8:23pm

And a good day to you, Tom.  Just to refresh your somewhat foggy memory because your comments are here to confirm what you said, below is a copy of your post in response to my friend Steve Duff’s previous comments:

Comment by Tom Gorham on July 24, 2014 at 9:49pm

Steve, nobody thought you were a hater.  Brian just likes to bully people and you got in his way.  And Brian,  the reason I chose to only comment on part of YOUR comment in the first place was because I couldn't force myself to get through the whole thing.  And I have seen your site.  And there is nothing new school about character assassination and personal attacks.  I'm sure you've been doing it all your life. 

Of note, here’s a copy of Steve Duff’s follow-up to my being erased from ADM.  (I’m no genius, but I think a monkey could read this and see that Steve didn’t have problems with what I’d previously posted to him, that is, if monkeys could read.)

Comment by Steve Duff on July 26, 2014 at 9:03am

I am sorry to see Brian's comments removed. I thought he brought a lively element to the conversation. Is there no way to restore his comments and reinstate him?

Tom, I’d suggest you take the old advice that “When you find yourself in a hole you want to get out of, quit digging.”  In respect to ADM and our fellow members, I want to stop this exchange right now!  What I plan to do is not read any of your future comments and you might consider not reading mine.  In fact, I’d prefer it.  Honestly, I think you’re somewhat contrary to the free exchange of ideas ADM permits its members to participate in, and I think words like “hater” have no place here.

I’ve never used any derogatory name-calling like that and never would, and I know because I write my comments in Word so they are easily accessible and then place them in the comment box.  Please, just let this go.  The main thrust of my previous comment was that any member who ever found themselves deleted from ADM should immediately alert Ralph.  I think you'd probably agree with that.  And, of course, they’d possibly save themselves some disappointment if they actually considered who they “friended” before they did. 

Comment by Tom Gorham on August 2, 2014 at 5:33pm

Brian, Brian glad to see you're back in true form.  Since I'm the one who called you a bully, and I do stand by that, I must add that I never said you were one all your life.  I have no way of knowing that and was only responding to the way you were bullying in the comments on this blog.  Yep you're right, it's a personal opinion and I truly wish your comments WERE here to confirm that.  I believe they would show that the only personal attacks were being made by you.  That resulted in my bully comment. 

If you are trying to use innuendo here, Ralph can confirm what he told me, that admins don't have the power to delete someone's complete profile, but only to suspend a member which would show up in the history.  It seems only you have that power with many warnings before it happens.  I didn't know that because I've never suspended someone or even recommended it. 

Yes Brian, I did friend you early on.  I think you are an interesting person.  I have never un-friended you.  Your point-of-view is different from many here and I think it adds spice to the conversation.  I don't know you personally so that's as far as it goes.

Comment by Brian Bennington on August 2, 2014 at 5:28am

I'm Baaack!  Initially, when I realized every post I'd made on this blog, along with every post I'd ever made on ADM as well as my ADM membership "mysteriously disappeared" right after my responding to an allegation of "bulliness," I was extremely curious as to the reason for it.  It was doubly strange because when I contacted our founder Ralph Paglia, he was as surprised it occurred without his knowledge as I was.  His reassurance that I was a member in good standing and the hour we spent together on the phone figuring out how it could have happened, culminating with his "re-enrolling" me, was truly enlightening.

In deference to our fellow ADM member's observation that I'm a "bully" and "have been all of my life," I’d say that’s their personal opinion, unless of course it comes out they speak for everyone.  But, because of the nature of ADM and its quest for differing viewpoints and stimulating debate, an “observation” like this is completely acceptable to me in this forum, even though some might call it a “personal attack” or “character assassination.”  (Normally, I'd blow it off with a retort like "It's just the terrier barking at the heels of the mastiff," but losing everything I’d ever taken time to write on ADM was an big blow to my ego, which fortunately over the years has gradually reduced itself in size to almost nonexistence.  Really, you can “call me anything but late for dinner.”)

However, as to the observation's accuracy, I've never met the "observer" in person, even though they “friended” me here early on, and I’d only communicated with them during the year-and-a-half I've been an ADM member.  Of course, there's always the possibility the member in question has some special insight or superior ability to make judgments like they did, and then comment that "they stand by it."  Jeez, I wish I could be that sure of something!

You may wonder why I’m mentioning all of this, but just know that should you ever find yourself “erased” from ADM, a call to Ralph to find out why could be a “membership saver.”  The lesson I learned from this is that, among my many character faults, I’m a lousy judge of who my friends are.

Comment by Tom Gorham on July 27, 2014 at 7:03am

Sara and Bobbie, you set of a bomb with this topic but it is definitely a worthy wake up call.  We all have to constantly be evaluating how we approach building a relationship with our customers.  Dealership staff and vendors all have sales in their blood and know persistency is important, but also have to know when persistency changes to annoying and even obnoxious behavior.  How we approach our customers is key to getting the sale. 

The industry is moving toward transparency, relationship building, reputation and great customer service.  Some will argue that that is nothing new.  In some ways that's true, but the ways we can approach them are new, innovative and effective both in the short term and especially in the long term.  Thank you for an exciting topic.

Comment by Tom Gorham on July 27, 2014 at 6:51am

Ralph, thank you for clarifying that.  And I appreciate your concern about doing a "restore".  That's a tough decision and would affect every blog on here.  I trust your judgment.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on July 26, 2014 at 7:28pm

Tom, please have no worries, as you are well aware, your reputation is sterling with me and I have nothing but the upmost respect for your contributions to our online community. Unfortunately, I cannot see who or exactly what was done to delete Brian Bennington's membership, profile and all content and comments he contributed... It is as if somebody logged in as Brian and used the "Delete My Account" option that we each have in our ADM site settings app... If he had been suspended by an admin, it would be visible in the back end admin screen, which all of us with admin access can look at... There have been over 1,000 members suspended from ADM during the past 7 years, but most of them were obvious spammers, mail-order Russian brides, Canadian Pharmaceuticals, etc.

I am at a loss for what happened to Brian Bennington's profile... In fact, I could not wipe any member's account out of ADM as thoroughly as was done to Brian, without that user's login and password. I reinstated a few members I had suspended last year, and sure as it is hot in Las Vegas right now, their profiles and previously posted content was reinstated and reappeared. The only time I cannot do that is when a member uses the "Nuke" button, in which case I do not have access to their profile or content previously posted.

This is a real mystery to me... And it saddens me because it is the first time in 7 years since I launched ADM that something as devastating as this has happened to a member's profile and content.. Usually, I get contacted by members who have left the auto industry and want to delete their content because it keeps showing up at the top of Google SERP for their name!

Lastly, there is a way i could recover Brian Bennington's profile and content, but if I restored ADM to the last back-up time point, everything that has been posted since then would be gone... And that is something I am unwilling to do, as I would hope the community would feel the same way.

Comment by Tom Gorham on July 26, 2014 at 4:49pm

Ralph, as we talked about on the phone, I for one hope you discover who deleted Brian's profile or comments.  I have always had a cordial relationship with Brian and have had private messages with him through ADM that have always been friendly in nature.  Even though I called him a bully (I stand by that) in what he was saying on this particular blog, I've seen and taken part in much worse.  But that fact, obviously places me as someone who could possibly have done it and I don't like it.  I like to think that I'm known to accept the right of everyone to speak their opinions and then give a vigorous response when I feel it necessary.

Comment by Bobbie Herron on July 26, 2014 at 10:27am

Manny - I agree with you on many facets in regards to that particular statement.  I know how difficult it can be to figure out how to get in, how to talk to the right person etc.  Tqhat definately wouldn't stop me from doing business with someone it is simply one of those things that "annoys" me.  It applies more though to when someone has already spoken to me or knows to come to me first but then bypasses me intentionally.  I am not the sole decision maker in our our group.  I will review a product and if it's something that I think will benefit one of the stores or all of them and then set up a demo with the managing partners.  Ultimatey, it's up to them but they ship options back to me before reviewing them. 

Comment by Steve Duff on July 26, 2014 at 9:03am

I am sorry to see Brian's comments removed. I thought he brought a lively element to the conversation. Is there no way to restore his comments and reinstate him?

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