Eyeroll. Another OEM Co-Op Program?

Agh, the word Co-Op. The word that usually means you’re having to spend money for another OEM program. Or you’re going to have to complete another mandated program – investing money – without having a say. That or because you’re doing your own training or advertising that the Co-Op just isn’t necessary. Hear me out. Have you ever been cruising down the road and see a billboard for a brand that seems out of place? Or been in an airport and see advertising for another franchised brand? Have you ever noticed that when it comes to franchised brands that the customer service is relatively consistent? Chances are you have. Chances are that these advertisements were created using market data. Data most dealers (or franchisees) do not have access to. Data that uses several, if not hundreds, of resources to better understand true market potential. Hence why you find billboards and other media advertising creatives in what seems to be peculiar places. It gets your attention. More importantly, when advertising is done through the OEM to then be distributed to its franchisees, it ensures continuity with the brand’s goals.

Customer service is no different. In fact, when we go to a franchised store and do not have the “typical” experience, or an experience we’ve come to expect, we’re disappointed, no? Well, the same is to be said for our customers whose experiences fall short of what they expect on the dealer level. Consistency in customer service – achieved through quality training – is critical in having success. So, when it comes to OEM Co-Ops for training, the same philosophy is in play. The OEM uses data to understand which dealers and respective markets have an opportunity to increase sales. Sales that cannot always be done through the current dealer efforts. This isn’t saying that what the dealer is or isn’t doing is wrong. It’s just that there is more opportunity out there. Not to mention, the OEM is absorbing a decent amount of the cost. The fact is that OEMs – when done right – have the means and leverage to negotiate pricing and program details. It’s those details – at that price point – that offer the dealer an opportunity to be a part of a program or training that affords success. More importantly, the OEM Co-Op programs are designed to be a long-haul effort. There was and is a tremendous amount of thought put into these programs. And for a good reason.

Think about it, one tendency in our industry is to “cancel” a training company or advertising vendor (or cut back spending) when we are doing well, but also when we’re not…. Why is that? One doesn’t get divorced at each disagreement on where to go for dinner. If things aren’t going so well, that’s when training is needed most! Conversely, the idea that, “well, we’re doing well now, so what’s the point of continuing to spend additional money?” is a misnomer. You’re doing well because of the investments made through training and strong advertising campaigns. But make no mistake, once you stop training or cut ad-spend, the train will derail. How many times have we stopped training when things were gravy to then “get back to basics of blocking and tackling” and rush back to training as the hail mary save in the 4th quarter? More times than we’d like to admit. Imagine how much easier it would be to manage your teams if they followed consistent processes with training that the OEM is assisting in paying for?

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