When it comes to communication between material handling distributor and manufacturer, talk is not cheap. In fact, lack of communication between the distributor and the manufacturer can cost tens of thousands of dollars, or worse, lost opportunities. The question is not whether all of that talk is really necessary…it is critical for both to achieve success.
• We need to discuss our business philosophies.
• We need to discuss various corporate goals.
• We need to discuss changes in the marketplace as they occur.
• And, of course, there should be an open and honest continual dialog
regarding the strengths and weaknesses in the relationships.
No one likes to be surprised. By keeping the lines of communication open, we avoid surprises which can be expensive. The relationship between the manufacturer and the distributor is strengthened by communicating often, by meeting on a regular basis to discuss new strategies in the face of changing economic conditions, and by speaking openly about their relationship to ensure both are on the same page.
The partnering relationship shared by the manufacturer and distributor are key elements to each party’s success. Benchmarks which anticipate sales volume, engineering support, product support, product quality and mutual likes and dislikes should be discussed and established.
Remember, the distributor is every bit as important to the manufacturer’s success as a key account is to the distributor. Given the importance of our partnering roles, why wouldn’t we meet frequently to discuss challenges?
There is nothing wrong with both parties maintaining high expectations. A distributor has the right to expect the manufacturer to be on the cutting edge of technology. The distributor should rely on their manufacturing partner to assist their team in providing creative and innovative solutions to the distributor’s clients.
How to Identify your Ally During the Tough Times
It is no secret our industry has experienced difficult economic conditions. Let’s look at the behaviors of successful manufacturing partners during the recent economic slump:
- They added staff positions to support the distribution channel.
- They visited more often.
- They asked how they could help the distributor support their clients and sell more products and services.
- They actively participated in the day-to-day opportunities encountered by distributor personnel.
- They assigned the responsibility of direct sales and dealer sales to different individuals.
- They provided the distributor’s support staff with tools allowing them to work smarter not harder.
- They continued to offer ongoing training for the distributor’s engineering and sales associates.
The material handling manufacturer who is truly partnering with a distributor is assisting in an effort to do more with less, as we both do battle reducing overhead in the face of increased cost pressures.