Here’s the cold, hard fact: cabinet dealers, remodelers and other industry professionals often feel they get very little value from their manufacturer’s rep. How do we know this? Because when issues with manufacturers surface, people usually ask, “Have you spoken to your manufacturer rep about this?”
The response I frequently hear is something like: “I don’t even know who my rep is”, or “my rep doesn’t ever help me at all”.
So what do dealers really want from manufacturer’s representatives?
1. Bring In Business
The single, most impressive and valuable thing you can do for dealers is to bring in new business. Superstar reps are doing more and more of this, and it’s building dealer loyalty.
Instead of going direct with a builder (and taking the dealer’s business away), make the builder think they are getting direct deal prices with local dealer service. Sound crazy? Savvy reps right now are bringing their dealers to the table on these opportunities and dealers are loving it.
2. Communicate Regularly
Stay in frequent communication with dealers and remodelers. This is the kitchen and bath business; it’s easy to watch 6 months fly by without talking to someone. Even though dealers and other industry professionals are incredibly busy, they DO notice that their rep hasn’t been by in a while. A phone call is nice, but a personal visit is never forgotten. They know you’re busy too, but they really don’t care. They’re focused on what they need to succeed.
3. Be Knowledgeable
Do you receive questions from dealers on your product line? If not, why? Most likely it’s one of these reasons:
- Dealers know you don’t know the answer
- You avoid dealer’s questions so they don’t bother you all the time
- They can never get a hold of you so they stop trying
- Dealer’s sales reps are so busy they have no idea new products are even available
- You’ve done such an incredible job training that they don’t have any questions about your products (this is incredibly rare)
Dealers must be able to count on reps to help them go in the right direction. Make sure dealer confidence is high and that you have the answers for them when they need you.
4. Train Often
The chances of dealers succeeding in selling your product is very low if their people never receive training from you, especially when updates to your catalog occur. Be proactive in making sure people have the knowledge to sell, there’s a way to handle the situation without stepping on their toes. There’s usually a way to get the dealer involved. And if there isn’t, at least they’ll be included in the decision and they’ll be okay that there’s no role for them to play. But if a dealer hears about one of those opportunities that you didn’t approach them with, they’ll assume it was one they could have won on their own and they’ll develop hard feelings toward you.
5. Don’t EVER Compete
The fastest way to ruin dealer relationships is to try to sneak around them and get business they could be getting themselves. And trust me, they’ll find out about it. If you’re even having the thought, talk to the dealer about it and see if they don’t have any questions about your products (this is incredibly rare). Dealers must be able to count on reps to help them go in the right direction. Make sure dealer confidence is high that you have the answers for them when they need you.
6. Take Care of Customers
When there’s a manufacturer issue that you need to get involved with, get the dealer out of the middle of it. Let dealers continue with their business and you get to the resolution with the dealer’s customer. If it’s something the dealer had to get you involved with, it shouldn’t be something that takes up a ton of their time to resolve.