How To Tell A Manufacturer Is Your Friend

Over the course of the past several years the people involved with United Sales have had relationships with many different manufacturers. Some have been good, some great, and some could use improvement. Hereís a look at a few things that will help determine whether a manufacturer is dealer friendly.


When a product line becomes available to a dealer, a partnership is formed. As a dealer, your responsibility is to maintain a representative inventory of the line for your customers, while keeping your account up-to-date. The suppliersí responsibility is to maintain an adequate inventory and handle any customer service issues that arise. Suppliers will encounter shortages. Forecasting and production issues do happen. Itís frustrating for a dealer when he/she canít immediately fill a customerís needs and itís equally as frustrating for the supplier. When you have found an item that sells well for you, itís not a bad idea to keep a couple more than usual in stock.


Product promotion is another topic to consider. Advertising in consumer publications can be very effective, and most manufacturers will rotate ads in various publications throughout the year. Rarely will they focus on one magazine, or market segment. Advertising dollars are better spent reaching as many consumers as possible. Ask if they have in-store promotional products. Whether or not your customers have seen something in their favorite magazine is often not as important as a banner, or counter card while theyíre in your store.


Donít be too concerned about the dealer 20 miles down the road who might also carry a line. He may not carry the same products within the line and even if he does, the internet has put the dealer on the other side of the country in your showroom, not down the road.


Speaking of the internet, thatís where many consumers look first today. Does the manufacturer youíre considering keep their web site current? All do, but it often takes time to put new products on their web sites. Be patient. Do they have a link to their dealer base? It certainly helps and can make a difference. But some manufacturers have such a large number of dealers that it may not be practical to list them all on their site. With lines that well known, being listed on a web site isnít always necessary. Your customers will either seek out, or recognize the line before visiting your store anyway.


Earlier, I briefly mentioned customer service. Customer service is a two-way street. It can mean success or failure for both you and the manufacturer. Manufacturers know this and have adequate staff to serve their dealer base. Learn the warranty on the different lines you carry and educate your customers as to what is and is not covered and for how long, before they walk out the door with their new purchase. Also, ask who to call when you have a warranty, or service situation. Many manufacturers today prefer a dealer call them direct. It takes your rep out of the picture as a middle man and usually a resolution is reached much faster.


Letís look at opening order requirements. Some manufacturers have none, some are reasonable enough that any market can handle the line and some will take so much of your capital that there wonít be enough money left for anything else. Variety keeps the doors swinging. Just because youíve loved a line since you were a kid doesnít mean itís right for you.


Hereís quite possibly the number one question to ask when youíre considering whether a manufacturer is dealer friendly. Is their line profitable? Yes, thereís profit in any line, but how much profit will determine how long youíre in business and no one goes into business planning on closing the doors next year. Take a good, hard look at the numbers to determine if a line will work for you.


So, when looking for a dealer friendly manufacturer, ask about inventory and how and where they advertise. Is their web site up-to-date? What are their customer service policies? Do their opening order requirements fit your budget, and is your return on investment what you need it to be?


May your new venture bring you success.

By Greg Koelling - United Sales Associates, Inc.

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Effective May 1, 2005, USAREPS appointed Reps for Mapex Drums in the states of NC, SC, GA, FL, TN, AL

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Ed Rider nominated for Music and Sound Retailer "Rep of the Year", joining his partner, Wendel Hartman, who was nominated for that same award in 1995.

June 9, 2004

United Sales Associates wins Quota Buster Award from Audio Technica

May 15, 2004

United Sales Associates appointed reps for Chauvet Lighting

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Trey Childress appointed territory manager for Virginia, Maryland, Deleware, and District of Columbia

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July 17, 2003

USA REPS is awarded The Presidents Award from Audio Technica.†MORE

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