Getting to Know Your Distributor (Conclusion)

Diana Vollmer |

Most representatives have extensive knowledge to draw upon

SAN FRANCISCO — Dry cleaners have a valuable resource close at hand that may be overlooked or, at best, be taken for granted.

Distributors not only provide the products, supplies and equipment needed in your daily operations but they also have an abundance of experience and knowledge at their disposal to aid in making your operations more successful. It is like having a gold mine waiting to be excavated.

THE DISTRIBUTOR TEAM

In addition to all of the resources that I listed in Part 1, the most valuable resource is the distributor team itself.

Most distributors and their representatives have extensive knowledge of the cleaning and laundry business and of the products that the distributorship represents.

They can help identify the source of a problem with equipment or the reason for less-than-desired results in the cleaning process.

They are trained to know the best combination of chemicals, water and solvent temperatures, cycle times, and processes.

They know when new products are introduced that might be appropriate for your operation and how to use them to their best advantage.

All of this expertise and information can be shared with you and your staff to continually improve your results.

In addition to the internal distributor team knowledge, the product suppliers with whom they work provide a network of experience and knowledge that is exponentially larger than that of a single distributor or operator. This entire knowledge base is also at your disposal through your distributors.

All of your suppliers want your sales and profits to improve because it is through you that their business may also grow and prosper. Improving your operation is a win for them as well as for you.

The win-win of mutual prosperity is the strongest incentive for distributors and suppliers to join forces and dedicate their combined resources to providing information on a variety of related and seemingly unrelated subjects.

For example, cleaners attending a distributor-sponsored seminar on lease negotiation found it to be highly informative, and operators who applied their new knowledge saved lease and tenant improvement expense. They also learned how to balance location and rent for more profitable and productive facilities.

Distributors are often the sponsors of industry speakers on management development, sales and marketing, process improvement, productivity, site selection, diversification, strategic planning, expense control, human resource management, government regulation, environmental issues and other challenges faced by owners on a regular basis.

This expertise can be presented either within your company or in venues where multiple operators gather.

The training can be on products and processes for the production staff or on sales benefits for the counter, service and sales team.

The material can become ever more sophisticated for management training. You may want to ask your distributor to sponsor these or other themes that you deem important:

  • Team development
  • Production management
  • Sales and marketing planning
  • Strategic planning
  • Profit improvement

The speaker can be from the distributor/supplier internal network or an outside expert that the distributor invites in.

Remember, just as you strive for more touch points in your customer and prospect interaction, so do the distributors and suppliers wish for more contact with you as their customers and prospects.

If you missed Part 1, you can read it HERE.

About the author

Diana Vollmer

Methods for Management (MFM) Inc.

Managing Director

Diana Vollmer is managing director of Methods for Management (MFM) Inc., a consultancy specializing in drycleaning businesses. You may contact her at dvollmer@mfmi.com, 415-577-6544.

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