Best PracticesDealership Operations & Processes

Create Your Own Vendor Visit Protocol

This will not win me many friends on the vendor side, because what I am about to suggest will not only help dealers structure their month, but will leave them still happily married with a full head of hair.

Dealers will no longer have to dedicate time after hours finishing projects or pulling out their hair from playing catch-up. On the other side, it will stop the growing epidemic of carpal tunnel syndrome that vendors are experiencing by eliminating endless calls trying to track down dealership folks.

I understand “sales” is often linked to persistence and determination, but there needs to be limits. I’m recommending that dealers create a Vendor Visit Protocol and win back time in your day.

Do you seem to have vendors walking in unannounced on a daily basis, whether they’re current partners of your dealer or simply trying to sell their wares?

It can be a major time suck, am I right?

We (DealerKnows) have a scheduled weekly live video training call with many of our clients, and every single week we are interrupted because a random vendor decides to drop in on the dealers with no advance warning. As if they deserve time of the executive manager on the spot.

As an information-hungry industry always trying to stay ahead of the game, dealers offer up their time to listen to countless pitches and presentations, regardless of when a vendor comes knocking. But unexpected visits can throw your entire day off track. Not counting having to field the endless “when do you want to get started” razzmatazz sales calls after the fact.

Here is the Vendor Visit Protocol we ask our dealer clients to put in place:

Dealers must set aside one (1) entire day per month where vendors are allowed to visit in store (or via webinar) and discuss their deliverables or present their services, whether they’re existing or potential clients. Vendors who are able to get on the day’s schedule are expected to:

  1. Show up on time
  2. Stay within their allotted time
  3. Present best numbers on the spot

In return, all dealership decision makers will be present and offering their undivided attention. Cell phones muted and facedown. With all decision makers present, a sound determination can be made by day’s end on whether to consider the new partners, rethink current agreements, or pass.

Dedicating one full day out of 25+ working days is not a lot to ask of a dealer representative if it frees up their other 24 days of the month. If a vendor calls you asking to present, and all of the slots for that month are spoken for, they will simply have to wait until the following month. It’s called waiting your turn.

It is time dealers stop segmenting their day away from all of their retail duties to acquiesce to the requests of vendors’ schedules.

Being a consultant, regardless how much my brain tells me otherwise, I realize I too am a vendor. With that said, I would never “swing by” uninvited because I know the rigors of dealership life. You never have enough time in your day to complete all you would like, so it is simply unfair I ask you to dedicate more time to me, without your approval.

Get your day back. Put people in line. Organize your month and give full attention to the vendors who want the opportunity to win your business – on the day and time assigned to them. In other words, please take a number and follow our Vendor Visit Protocol.


  • Do you currently have a Vendor Visit Protocol?
  • If you do, what is your protocol and how has it helped?
  • Don’t have a Vendor Visit Protocol, but you like the idea.. what would you include?

[highlight color=”#CCE6FF” font=”black”]Join this discussion in the dealer forums, where other dealers are currently sharing their answers and ideas.[/highlight]

Automotive trainer and consultant. I'm also a writer, speaker, movie buff, and Dad. --President of DealerKnows--