The Art and Science of Vendor Partnerships

The Art and Science of Vendor Partnerships

By collaborating with suppliers and vendors, within the framework of a true partner relationship, you can multiply success and profits exponentially.

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If there is one truth in business, one valuable tip that can leverage success, one gold nugget of wisdom it would be this: no one succeeds alone.

Strong vendor partnerships are one of the greatest strategic growth tactics and best practice resources available to nearly every industry, including the auto industry. By collaborating with suppliers and vendors, within the framework of a true partner relationship, you can multiply success and profits exponentially. And the best part? Everyone benefits.

A strong vendor relationship encompasses a wide range of interactions and collaborations between a dealership and its suppliers or vendors. Having a genuine mutual relationship that promotes being able to problem-solve together is an advantage when it comes to not only profit margins, but also creating a more productive and engaged organization that focuses on quality outcomes.

Dealerships have done well during the last couple of years. But there’s a downside to good times: dealerships sometimes develop bad habits because it becomes so easy to wait for customers to come to them instead of going out and finding new ones. Without leadership and a good plan, teams can fall apart quickly. As John C. Maxwell said, “Teamwork makes the dream work, but the vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.”

Effectively managing vendors into a cohesive team that works for the dealership’s success is crucial when it comes to the day-to-day operations. The first step should be a thorough vendor selection process which considers factors such as reliability, quality, and cost-effectiveness. Establishing clear expectations through contracts or agreements that outline deliverables, timelines and performance metrics are essential. Maintaining open communication channels and fostering a transparent and collaborative relationship supports the process and allows ongoing evaluation of results. One of the most important aspects is to nurture a partnership mentality, seeking ways to collaborate and innovate together for mutual success. Effective vendor management is not just about cost reduction but building strategic alliances that contribute to the overall success for both the dealership and the vendor.

Once your goals are set and your vendor team is assembled and committed to working with you, it’s important to maximize the relationships so everyone involved sees the best results from their collaborative efforts. Here’s how to keep relationships going so you see the best results:

Team Training and Support

Working with vendors to come up with a well-thought-out training plan for your team helps with integrating new products into your dealership. At times, it can be hard to implement new tools because daily routines are set, and everyone is pressed for time.

That’s why it’s important to work closely with your vendor to set your team up for success. When possible, bring in a vendor representative to train and educate your employees. That way, everyone understands how to use the new product.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Vendors should provide you with KPIs. KPIs create targets for your teams to hit, milestones to track progress and insights to help organizations make better decisions. Using feedback from KPIs will help you to continually improve performance.


Set up regular check-ins with vendors to talk about what’s working and what’s not. This is where you can get the help you need. A receptive vendor will use your feedback to improve its product, so be honest.

It is also important to establish open channels of communication for your team to ensure everyone using the vendor tools knows how to get help if they need it.

Long-Term Training

Training is not simply finished after the initial setup. Follow-up training from your vendor is important because it allows your team to give feedback, get questions answered and allows for training as the product develops new features. You’ll keep your staff engaged and maximize the value of your dealership tools.

A good vendor is there to help you achieve your goals, so make sure to stay on the same page, keep your communication going, and continue to look for ways tools can benefit your dealership. Having a great relationship with a vendor who has a vested interest in your business can prove to be beneficial in a number of ways:

Cost Savings

Being a good customer — with consistent orders and on-time payments — can lead to vendors offering volume discounts and having special deals.

Timely Deliveries

In order for you to meet your obligations and provide excellent customer service, you need to have the tools you need delivered on time. That’s what’s great about having a good relationship with your vendor, they will prioritize you. Vendors will deliver the goods ahead of time. In addition, they’ll make sure that you get the best training and will follow up.

Vendor Support

When issues arise, the vendor will be prompt in their responses. More than likely, they’ll go beyond the basics to address your problem and compensate you for your trouble.


As your vendor begins to understand your business, they can provide you with unique and customized products that can create a competitive advantage over other businesses in the marketplace.

Customer Satisfaction

A strong relationship with your vendor can also impact other relationships, that of your customers and your company. When you deliver goods and services on time and free from issues, your customer relationships will become stronger. This can foster loyalty and trust as they will feel that their money is well-spent.

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