angry businesswomanI love that show “America’s Dirtiest Jobs”.  I get so grossed out by what it actually takes to make everything work sometimes.  I also find it fascinating that people actually do those jobs for a living.

Then it made me think about our industry and it made me laugh.  While we may not be shoveling tons of pig manure, it certainly can’t be much fun shoveling paperwork into manufacturer’s ordering systems all day long either.

Kitchen and bath professionals are starting to wise up when it comes to their manufacturer’s ordering systems.  They have realized that these systems are not only challenging to use, but they require time-consuming rekeying efforts for the order to be placed.  The associated keying errors are also causing costly mistakes out in the field.

“The costs associated with the labor and mistakes of using a manufacturer’s ordering software makes that line not as easy to do business with,” says Aaron Brock at Brock Cabinets in NC.  “Now that we will be capturing our detailed costs much better, we’re going to be paying special attention in the coming months on how profitable our manufacturer relationships are”.

Many in the industry are hopping back on the fax bandwagon because they just don’t have the staff to do the re-keying since ordering from design just doesn’t work.  Sure the manufacturer might add an incentive of some sort to re-key their order, but dealers and remodelers have learned that the errors and field mistakes associated with doing this is just too much.

“Unfortunately,” says David Preaus, owner at Creative Cabinetry in CO, “As a small dealer we just don’t have the bandwidth to key in orders like that.  So as much as we love a brand, using that brand’s software just makes it more difficult for us to maintain our margins and ultimately for us to sell”.

The industry is now starting to demand more accountability from their manufacturers.  By keying in the order, a dealer accepts responsibility for any mistakes.  If they simply fax the order in, any keying mistakes are clearly the manufacturer’s fault.

More Problems Than Solutions

Years back, manufacturers could actually tell someone they wouldn’t accept their orders if their ordering systems weren’t used.  Now, with sales at an all time low and staffs leaner than ever, using the myriad of manufacturer’s software is creating more problems than solutions.

“As cabinet manufacturers increasingly make ordering more difficult, dealers should be offered alternatives,” says Bob Wilkes, owner of KB Kitchen and Bath in SC.  “Manufacturers should help us subsidize the labor cost and simplify their ordering process or we will find other manufacturers better focused on helping us sell product instead of solving their internal manufacturing issues.”

“As always,” says Bob, “The dealer does have choices.  We should remember we are the customer and we should have a voice in what affects our bottom line.  If cabinet manufacturers balk at working with us on such a simple level, the market is very plentiful right now with other manufacturers looking for new, long-term dealer relationships.”