Is Your Dealer Locator App A Liability?


dealer finderThey say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

They also say that every solution has two problems.

I know I regularly find myself saying the latter.

It’s amazing how initiatives that mean well, that have the best of intentions, can end up going the off the rails, producing unintended consequences and hurt feelings.

One such example is the “Find A Dealer” widget on vendor websites.

It’s simple premise: as a prospecting tool, vendors put a geographic widget on their site to allow interested potential customers to find a reseller in their area.

Seems simple enough in theory. But in practice it can be a real headache.

Let me give you some examples of how it can go wrong.

I work for a distribution company. One of our brands is a massive Asian manufacturer. You’ve doubtless heard of them.

They list us on their Canadian website as one of their authorized distributors.

Tangentially, their Customer Service Reps in their support call center also refer end users to us.

Sounds great, right?


We only deal with one segment of their business: mobile accessories. I’m happy to receive calls from end users looking for mobile accessories and direct them to a qualified retail dealer of mine in their area.

Problem is, they also have us listed for several of their other segments.

I get calls from end users looking for help for things we don’t do: from repairs and replacement parts for electronics to major appliances like washers, dryers and refrigerators.

call center

I’m always gracious with end users, but explaining “I’m sorry but we don’t do that” gets tedious.

Another of our vendors launched a dealer locator on their website. They did it in concert with us: we provided them with our dealer database so that end users could go directly to authorized resellers straight from the vendor website.

Problem was, they didn’t utilize our database in full.

If you used the dealer locator, it only showed national account, big box chains.

find a dealer 2

When my regional dealers, who do serious numbers, saw that the vendor site’s dealer locator only showed national chains they were unhappy.

That’s an understatement.

It was a relationship management nightmare.

Anyway, we got it fixed, and they tweaked the geographic algorithm to favor specialty regional dealers over big box stores.

My advice, if you’re planning on rolling out a dealer locator widget on your site: brainstorm all the ways this can blow up in your face BEFORE you take it live.

You can thank me later.