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The Middle Man
Are you in a good relationship?
but then gradually slipped away and almost their distributors. Of course distributors will try
all reverted back to their old ways. Being and drive a good bargain, but that doesn’t mean
completely realistic, I’d say our one very good manufacturers are being screwed.
manufacturer has now been joined by one
Trust works both ways, of course. A concern
other. There are several ‘so-so’ players –
for many distributors is: most manufacturers
and a few who are, frankly, poor.
advertise. Do they get leads from that? If so,
Manufactures’ reps are their fundamental where do these leads go? We have never seen
business links to their distributors! Yet with a single lead from most of our suppliers. Are
Our Middle Man, Brian Chapman,
one manufacturer we only see the rep if we call they competing with us?
and ask them to come in. If we’re not begging
MD of independent supplies
For our manufacturers, we can add real value
to see them, they only call at their budgeting
because we have the direct face-to-face contact
distributor The Supplies House,
time. Other firms’ reps are content to just turn
with the market. We are closest to the latest
gives us his view on
up, have a cup of tea, ask how much business
trends – we might even be creating them!
industry issues.
we are going to do with them and then head off
We can feed insights back to the manufacturers,
into the distance. Is it our choice of tea bags?
Or are they simply not interested in the
helping them become more competitive.
It struck me at an industry exhibition that the
support given by the large manufacturers
additional business our growth could be
That’s what I mean by mutually beneficial
was very disappointing. They were very
generating for them?
partnerships – and I can cite two excellent
conspicuous by their absence. This triggered
Thankfully, they’re not all like that. The best reps
examples of everything I’ve talked about.
one of our sales managers to say that when he
want to work with us – closely and frequently!
Metsa Tissue’s rep calls and visits us regularly.
used to work for a major manufacturer, he
They want to know all about our business,
They have been joined by Rubbermaid who
thought they provided excellent support to all about our prospects and opportunities
responded to my concerns. When we have big
distributors. Then he joined us and saw things and how they can help. And it isn’t just about
opportunities they both work closely with us.
from a distributor’s viewpoint. He changed his shaving pennies off the price. All types of
Constructive ideas come from all three sides.
mind. In fact, he said that support from most initiatives to develop our business, such as help
Working together, we have increased our
manufacturers is “complete rubbish”. with telemarketing or presentations to major
success rate in new business – benefiting
prospects, help build the relationship.
them and us.
How much does this matter? As an independent
janitorial supplies distributor based in London, We have happily offered a desk and phone for
All you major manufacturers and suppliers:
the heart of the UK’s largest business area, we any representative to base themselves with us
how are your distributors doing and what part
place several hundred thousand pounds’ worth for a few hours or a day. Getting to know your
are you playing in their growth!? Are you
of business with each of our main suppliers. reps better means we are much more likely to
missing out on incremental business because
They know we are growing, so the volume of think of them when we are quoting for the next
you don’t have the right relationships with
orders they see from us should be growing too deal, or looking to expand our product range,
them? Get involved! Ask what we’re doing and
– after all, we must be sourcing our products or target new prospects or markets. Never
how you can help us. Your sales graphs will
from somewhere! If we’re placing fewer orders seeing or hearing from the rep – well, out of
thank you! Surely that’s the best way for all of
with them, though, wouldn’t you think they’d sight, out of mind?
us in these challenging times?
want to know why? Surely they want a bigger
As a good distributor, we recognise we’re in
Brian Chapman, MD
slice of this growing pie?
partnership with our manufacturers, where
The Supplies House
When I first expressed my opinions, the mutual benefit will only come from trust and
response from the manufacturers was recognising the value of long-term relationships. Got an opinion or a response for Brian?
interesting. The reps all started calling, Unfortunately, some manufacturers don’t trust Email:
| TOMORROW’S CLEANING | The future of our cleaning industry
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