What Is Bad Communication from a Vendor Costing Your Dealership?

What Is Bad Communication from a Vendor Costing Your Dealership?

Slow, poor communication has become the norm for automotive vendors. How is this impacting your dealership?

In my business owner mastermind group, we’re asked every quarter what an hour of our time is worth.

How would you answer this question?

The expression “Time is money” exists for a reason. Apparently, it comes from none other than Benjamin Franklin. He wrote in a book in 1748, “Remember that time is money.”

I’m glad that one of my major pet peeves is approved by a Founding Father. If you want to frustrate me, waste my time.

I’m guessing a lot of you dealership owners and managers feel the same way. There is never enough time in the day to accomplish what we want at work.

Every minute counts.

When 9 Clouds is examining vendors to work with, one of our key factors is communication. How quick and thorough are the vendor’s replies? Of course, their technology or service needs to perform, but if their communication quality is lacking, that’s immediate cause for concern.

Our “time is money,” and I don’t want to waste it trying to get a response (and/or a better response) from a vendor. You shouldn’t, either.

Why Are Our Vendor Expectations So Low?

In our instant gratification culture, why are we okay with slow, poor-quality responsiveness from vendors? Why isn’t “time is money” a priority when we’re analyzing vendors to work with?

Support tickets, not real people, are the norm when it comes to vendor support these days. As long as the communication is timely and thorough, I’ll accept a ticket system, but I always prefer to talk to a real person whom I trust.

How do you build that trust? You work with a company that has low turnover, so your contacts stay and grow with you.

We don’t put enough stock in retention when considering vendors. If the employees don’t want to stay with a vendor, why should you?

A genuine, transparent relationship with your vendor contact allows them to feel comfortable being honest with you about their ability to fix a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. They will clearly articulate the next steps and implementation timeline.

In this situation, your time is being respected and used in the most effective, efficient way.

What Keeps Business Owners Up at Night

In addition to the monetary cost, there’s the potential energy cost of bad vendor communication.

None of us wants to feel helpless when it comes to our business, and helplessness usually results in frustration and lost sleep (at least for me). 

What does a lack of sleep costs us? This CBS News article from 2016 says:

“Reduced productivity and an increased risk of death linked to lack of sleep among U.S. workers cost the nation’s economy as much as $411 billion a year. That’s more than 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the report revealed.”

I’m sure that number increases with inflation.

Worry has a cost. If your website is down and you’re not hearing back from your vendor, not only is it costing your dealership money because your online store is essentially closed, but it also costs you personal stress.

Running a business already has enough stress. We don’t need to add to it by working with vendors who don’t respect our time.

It (Unfortunately) Happens Every Day

Is what I’ve said not hitting home yet? Let me offer some real-life examples we’ve experienced on behalf of our clients:

  1. One of our clients has spent multiple months trying to get their website provider to make edits. They are paying a monthly retainer to this provider, but they have no answers on why the provider isn’t working on the request. 
  2. Another client’s website provider periodically deletes script needed for lead tracking. The provider has no record for why it’s deleted and has no answers for the client. To this end, we now have a to-do at 9 Clouds to monitor the script to ensure it’s on the site. 
  3. A Tier 2 vendor promised to have content done by a certain day and time that we would use in Tier 3 promotion for our client. We had to follow up on the status of the content and were then informed that it would likely be another week before it was finished — when we had already planned our execution around the promised deliverable time.

In these scenarios, our clients are super grateful that 9 Clouds is on top of things. If we didn’t watch these issues and continue to push the vendors, the work would continue to be delayed and potentially never get done.

Why is this acceptable?! It makes my blood boil.

We should never have to follow up with a vendor to confirm they got our request and/or ask what the status of the request is. (Or, even worse, add something to our plate because the vendor can’t be trusted!)

Once we’ve hit “send” on a request, we should be able to move it off our plates to allow room and time for the next task.

We know the importance of thorough, responsive communication because our clients actually take the time to thank us for it. Just a few weeks ago, I received this response from a client to my follow-up on a question they had:

“I appreciate your quick reply, thank you!”

It speaks to our low vendor expectations when someone takes the time to thank us for something that I think should be expected.

Those of us providing technology and services need to do better.

Client Satisfaction = Communication Quality – Service Quality

Communication is paramount at 9 Clouds. It’s what sets us apart from our competitors.

You may not think quality communication has much value, but in 10 years as a digital marketing agency, we know it’s true.

If you don’t believe me, can you really argue with Benjamin Franklin?

Time is money, and poor vendor communication is costing you. What are often called “soft skills” are more important than we give them credit for.

Don’t cost your dealership money by picking a vendor that wastes your time and energy. It’s worth the hourly rate you gave as your answer to the question in the intro. How much of it are you wasting on inefficient vendor relationships?

Tired of wasting time? Read our post on the four qualities you should look for in a vendor or agency, and see why clients enjoy working with 9 Clouds in addition to our proactive and thorough communication.

(We’ve also got lots of case studies you can check out that speak more to the “hard skills” of our team!)