Are You an Interchangeable Vendor? (You Better Hope Not)

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the National AAMCO Dealers Association Convention in Lake Tahoe. Yes, you should feel very sad for me. It was a terrible location, and rained the entire time.

This five-day event was centered around celebrating the association’s 45th Anniversary and renewing a sense of commitment to the industry’s future. Scheduling was packed with meetings, presentations, vendor showcases, and networking. Needless to say, there were more than enough opportunities to connect, to talk transmissions, and to get to know association members better. 

During each showcase event, I found myself taking in the rest of the room and observing the other vendors present. It definitely was a good feeling to be among some of our industry’s most well-known brands, including Transtar, AutoZone, and CustomerLink. Unlike any other convention or trade show, though, this atmosphere was different.

We weren’t analyzing every person that stopped by our table, mentally filing away their names as customers or otherwise.

We weren’t competing for leads.

We weren’t trying to have the most exciting booth.

But, why not? Wasn’t this a golden opportunity to build our brand recognition and get our name out there?

Then it hit me. It wasn’t about ETE. Or Transtar. Or any other company present. We weren’t selling our products or services; we were selling ourselves. This was our opportunity to show what separates vendors from partners.

Vendors, by definition, are people who sell something. That’s it. That’s all they have to offer and all they’ll ever have to offer. Vendors are the shameless self-promoters who only see these types of events as a means to their end. They make big promises and more often than not, fall short. And for these reasons, they’re interchangeable.

Interchangeable is easily replaced without a second thought. Interchangeable is swapped for the next best, fastest, or quickest.

In contrast, partners are united in support of a common interest. They actively build relationships, support each other’s goals, and are integral parts of one another’s success.

Ask yourself: 

To get started, here are a few qualities that make for a partner:

Partners are reliable. They are timely when called or emailed. At events, they show up first, rather than leaving a meeting planner wondering if they got lost.

Partners are involved. They join committees and speak at training sessions. They share industry knowledge, ideas, and how they’ve overcome common obstacles.

Partners build personal relationships. They take the time to find common ground, to remember birthdays, to reach out just to see how business is going.

Partners are professional. It might sound a little like grade school, but partners treat others as they’d want to be treated: with courtesy and respect. When mistakes and issues occur, partners keep a cool head. When it comes to the competition, they don’t name call or embarrass.

Being a partner isn’t easy. It takes compromise, time, and even money. But when a good partner is irreplaceable and a great partner is priceless, isn’t it worth the effort to cultivate business relationships that last?


Every superhero has a support staff – and Captain Reman’s team is no exception. “The Woman Behind the Curtain” strikes again as your Reman University writer. Questions? Comments? Leave them below or connect with her at jporter@etereman.com. 

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