Dealers who have worked with manufacturers directly in the past may wonder how distributors fit into the equation and what value distributors can add to their retail business. When I speak with dealers who purchase and promote power equipment available through distribution, I hear a wide range of reasons why dealers get excited about working with a distributor. Here are the benefits I hear most frequently from OPE dealers.
Follow Through / Support
As the sales and marketing arm of the manufacturer, the OPE distributor is responsible for what happens in the marketplace. At the end of the day, a good product (what the end user wants to spend money on) coupled with a good program for the dealer may not get the ball across the “goal line” in every scenario. Issues will arise, and an OPE dealer needs to know that with one contact (phone call, email, etc.) his or her issue will be addressed. Think of your distributor as your on-call problem solver. Knowing that you can count on your distributor to listen to your issue, work to execute a fair solution and communicate back to your dealership is very important. It not only frees you up to move on to other projects, it gives you the ability to create an expectation with your customer (end user). It’s vital to your business.
Great distributors spend an enormous amount of time creating dealer programs that help dealers with their go-to-market strategy. The programs are intended to increase enthusiasm and provide direction and detail. However, supporting a diverse dealer network means that you can’t offer a one-size-fits-all dealer program. While similarities may exist across OPE retail businesses, each dealership is unique and may require a customized program to leverage market-specific opportunities or overcome unusual circumstances. Because distributors are typically local and work closely with the dealers on their businesses, they have the ability to better support OPE dealers and help them maximize revenue opportunities in their respective market.
While it’s critical to have someone you can call when issues come up at your dealership, it’s as important to have a proactive distributor that calls their dealers and employs industry veterans who have “seen it all.” Distributors provide OPE dealers with marketing and sales ideas and inventory management assistance. Plus, industry veterans draw on decades of experience working in the OPE industry to help dealers anticipate market trends, grow their retail businesses and weather the storm.
Product & Parts Availability
Due to a major investment in power equipment and parts inventory, distributors make it possible for their dealers to get equipment within 24 to 48 hours along with next-day parts shipping for the majority of their territory. This type of support makes it possible for dealers to service their customers’ needs within that same timeframe. Since many dealers do not have the physical space to stock the amount of equipment and parts their customers require, the distributor serves as an extension of the dealership and provides readily available product. As a result, the dealer can offer products with fast shipping without the overhead necessary to stock the equipment or products themselves. OPE dealers benefit from making the sale, and their customers benefit from excellent and expedient customer service.
While dealers most often tout these four benefits, by no means is it a complete list of benefits that dealers can experience when working with distributors. After being employed by several distributors and two direct manufacturers, I can see why many OPE brands, especially brands that are important to landscape professionals choose to go to market with distribution rather than go factory direct. They see how dealers can be more successful with the support of distributors. And, if dealers are more successful, the manufacturer is also more successful. It’s a win-win case every time.
If you’re interested in learning more about our approach to distribution, click here.