A key factor in reducing chemical costs in your detail department is to partner with your supplier.
Ask many dealers about the companies that supply their recon/detail department and you get comments about lack of honesty and commitment and over-selling. Or simply, "I don't deal with them".
The interesting thing is that if you ask a supplier about their dealer customers they might say the same things.
So who is right?
Suppliers state that dealers say they want quality, service, and delivery. However, most of them squeeze them for price.
Dealers indicate that suppliers only want to sell as much chemical as they can while giving a "snake-oil" pitch on most of the chemicals.
Long Term Process
Like marriage, learning to "partner" with your supplier is a long-term process. They take the time to develop and require positive input from both sides. Just because the dealer is the buyer does not mean it is a one-sided relationship.
Detail suppliers who have not yet learned to partner with their customers are beginning to find it tough going, and it will get worse.
Smart dealers are learning to limit their suppliers, and work closely with those who can supply most of their needs. You must look for suppliers who want to partner with you. When you find one put more energy into these relationships and you will get what you want, when you want it, with the service and attention that goes with a purchase. In the long run, if you commit to one or a few suppliers, it will turn out to save you money.
Suppliers who cannot meet these demands should not be given your business.
All relationships begin with trust. Earned, not purchased, taken, or given freely.
Dealers must cooperate with their suppliers. A supplier can only assist you if you share information with them. For example, if you or your recon manager is unhappy with a product or the salesperson who calls on your shop, tell them or their supervisor the problem.
You must give in order to get. In exchange for good pricing and extraordinary service you need to make a commitment to purchase most of your chemicals and supplies from them. If you want a supplier to provide you the most advanced technology and information you must help them. They have needs as you do and you must be sensitive to their needs as you expect them to be to yours.
As a small dealership you might be saying, "Hey, I'm too small for all this fancy partnering. I have to keep my costs down, and if I can buy for a cheaper price, I have a right to do it!"
But are you really too small? Maybe you are small because you think small, about your detail department, and as a result, get small.
Consider those suppliers who could put you on the cutting edge of all the latest technology in the detail business that cannot only save you money, but make you money.
You will never know how these suppliers can help if you do not give them a chance.
Better yet, ask those suppliers that sell price what else they can offer besides price. If you think saving a buck or two on a gallon of chemical is going to help your detail operation you are destined for disappointment.
Suppliers You Have a Role Too
This is not just for dealers!
The supplier must partner too. Not only with their customers, but with the company who supplies chemicals, pads, brushes, etc.
To be the greatest value to the dealer, the manufacturer you represent, and to yourself, you must be a source of knowledge for both. Share as much as you can with your customers and your manufacturer. Do not be discouraged if your ideas are often met with a lack of response. In partnering you must always look at situations from the other point of view.
As one of Steven Covey's Habit's state: "Seek first to understand, then be understood”.