Territories, who needs them? A.D. needs to answer this one as fast as a speeding bullet, because the answer is ALL OF US! Too many times there is confusion when it comes to “who is my distributor” and “can I use a different one?” If a dealer has to ask who their distributor is, we have a problem, Houston!
Products such as engine lines, mower lines, and parts lines have assigned territories. You may think you’re doing yourself a favor saving a buck or two, but the bottom line is that when you go outside your territory to buy, there will probably be repercussions for your actions. Having the correct distributor out there working on your behalf means that you are going to develop a relationship. And when you have a relationship, you have a better chance of getting something out of the ordinary when you need it. A good distributor and dealer relationship starts with trust. Trust that you are getting the best deal if you are a dealer, and trust that you are getting most of the dealer’s business if you are a distributor.
If you are using a larger distributor for many of your product lines, there’s a good chance you are getting better freight programs, faster service, and some other perks for loyalty. You’re probably getting some training certificates that enhance your dealer credentials. If you buy outside of your selected markets, you might lose those things. Maybe not immediately, but when you get busted (and you might get busted by your distributor) all loyalty is probably over.
So, since A.D. has taken it upon himself to speak for all distributors (awesome powers I have bestowed upon myself) what do you want from the distributor to be loyal? What makes you go outside your territory anyway? How would you like it if your customers went to the closest competitive dealer to give them their business because they are $1 cheaper? Hey, A.D. never claimed to be smart, but I am sure you wouldn’t like it. Matter of fact, you might feel different when that person comes in next time – if there is a next time.
It’s possibly the same as that consumer walking in your store, cell phone locked and loaded, just waiting to show you he/she can get the same part for 38 cents cheaper, and they expect you to match. If you do it once, you may be doing it all the time. So I ask again, what do you want from the distributors to stay loyal to them and the products they represent?
A.D. would love to hear from you on this. After all, you – the lawn and garden dealer – are on the firing lines every day. You hear things from the customer that a distributor and manufacturer will never hear (other than from you). Share that so we can all get better. Let’s eliminate the need to go to a major online reseller by both the consumer and you.
On another topic, I see that OPE has been having Industry Experts answering some questions about the future and the trending items. How far off do you think they are? Do you think they are right on with what they are saying? The reason I ask is because many of the experts have incredible insight and some don’t. It’s always great to see how the leaders of our industry answer the questions. I’m sure it used to be much easier for them when they didn’t have off-shore competition, Internet sales, MAP pricing, and quality issues – not to mention EPA changes. But the industry has survived since gas was invented, and there shouldn’t be any reason it won’t in the future.
So, once again, keep your blades and mind sharp. Contact A.D. by tweeting @opemagad or e-mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.