Dealers and manufacturers share the same goal — sell more product. Yet, it seems the relationship that many dealers have with their manufacturers is not all that it could be. Perhaps some of you don’t even trust your manufacturer reps.

That’s a sentiment shared recently, not by dealers, but by dealer development representatives at a meeting hosted by Bob Clements Intl (BCI). The meeting’s goal was to bring manufacturers together in a brand agnostic format to improve the manufacturer-dealer relationship.

One of the discussions asked the reps to consider the business phase of each of their dealers: activity, process or organizational. 

In the activity phase, dealers are like toddlers. They are running around, bumping into things and believing they are successful because they are busy. Too often, dealers in this phase feel overwhelmed.

During the process phase, dealers understand that activity doesn’t mean profitability. They are like teenagers, testing old beliefs and trying new things, like processes. 

A dealership that is in the organizational phase has processes in place, profitability is increasing, and they are now focusing on the organizational side of the business. They are moving from being a teenager to being an adult.

The discussion continued, with the BCI team asking the manufacturer reps to share what they need most from dealers. Many said they wished dealers would share more data, such as financial data and key performance indicators. They said this kind of data would help them better understand the dealership’s position as well as help them develop industry benchmarks.

Finally, the conversation looked at how manufacturers could help encourage growth habits among dealers. These habits include embracing change and continuous learning; creating agility by understanding financials through using business management software and monitoring goals; and choosing success by being objective and placing a high value on your people, products and services.

Growing in 2020

Take the time now to do this same exercise. First, identify if you are in the activity, process or organizational phase of your business. Then develop those key habits of continuous learning, ongoing financial management and choosing success to move your dealership forward.

Turn to your manufacturer and ask how they can help your business develop and achieve the financial results you deserve. What kind of business management training can they offer? How can they support your use or even the purchase of a DMS? (One manufacturer at the event floor plans the purchase of financial software.)

Finally, consider what kind of dealership data you are willing to share with your reps, with the understanding you can benefit from the data being collated into industry benchmarks. As you build up your level of transparency, you’ll build trust. That’s when true business partners can achieve their mutual goals.  


Sign up today for the online, on-demand and free Dealer Success Academy, set for March 4-5, 2020, Consider using the event as an in-house training workshop for your entire time. 

Thank you to our sponsors BASIC Software Systems, ECHO and the Equipment Dealers Assn.

And, nominations are open for Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s 2020 Dealership of the Year. Be bold and nominate your dealership today. Go to