Today’s mobile dealers and warehouse distributors run across many hardline suppliers competing for their business. What factors should you evaluate before you decide which company to support? There are many, and everyone evaluates them differently, but here are—perhaps—the most vital factors in choosing your hardline supplier.
Quality And Price
Everyone wants to sell the best quality product, but at what price? It’s not always true that the most expensive product is the highest in quality. Distributors should strive to partner with manufacturers who offer a high quality product at a reasonable price. When your customers feel they have acquired goods at a great value for their money, they are more likely to come back to purchase more.
Breadth Of Line
Consider the depth of product a manufacturer has within the particular category you seek. For example, if you’re looking for an impact socket supplier, you must feel comfortable the manufacturer you support has everything your customer base would ever need—both now and in the future.
This can include coverage up to the largest sizes, specialty items, hard-to-find items and, of course, the everyday high volume product. The first time you are forced to substitute another brand, your customer—the one who loves the quality and value of your primary brand—would question the change.
Inventory Fill Rates
At this point the hardline you hypothetically choose consists of a wide range of high quality products at a price your customer is happy to pay. Now you must establish how capable your hardline supplier is at filling orders. Does the company ship all orders the same day and are all orders filled 100-percent complete?
Typically, if your customer asks for a specific hardline product, he needs it now. If you don’t stock it, and it’s unavailable from your supplier, your customer may be forced to go somewhere else. Don’t put yourself in this position: Ask about the company’s shipping efficiency in advance.
Companies dealing in hardline products generally offer a lifetime warranty. The more difficult judgment in regard to warranty is how well a company backs their product once the first warranty appears. How efficiently a company handles warranty items can be tough to determine, but ask about procedures ahead of time so you understand what is expected of you.
Another extremely critical factor is the verification of a company’s commitment to new products. It’s important to work with a company that sees your customer’s requirements changing as you do. You should seek out a supplier who continually introduces new products based on evolving applications in your customers’ workplaces. And if you support these new products, it solidifies your relationship with your supplier, allows you to bring new solutions to your customers and helps you increase sales.
Marketing And Sales Materials
Determine how well companies portray themselves to your market. By using a manufacturer’s high quality marketing materials, such as advertising, product packaging, product images and literature, you can maximize product exposure and, therefore, sales.
Customers today often search the Internet for specific products before calling a distributor. Simply by having a well designed website, the manufacturer can provide specific product information and direct customers to both you and the product they’re in search of. Some companies even help design individual flyers tailored to your specific market’s needs.
Believe it or not, there are still companies around that employ a staff of knowledgeable, friendly customer service representatives who actually answer the phone rather than an automated phone system. Furthermore, dealing with people who are excited about the product they represent can prove to be an invaluable asset to both you and your customers.
As you search for the best partner to work with to develop your company’s future, these factors may help you choose which company is best for your business ... Happy hunting!
Steve Gray is the vice president of sales for Grey Pneumatic, which has headquarters in Menomonie, WI. The company is a world supplier of impact sockets for the automotive, industrial, assembly, maintenance, heavy-duty, and mining/construction industries. To learn more about the company and its products, visit www.gpsocket.com.