Are Your Distributor Partnerships Profitable?

Manufacturers and distributors operate in very different worlds. The constant challenge, therefore, is to find common ground and build productive partnerships to improve day-to-day operations and produce a profitable bottom line.

Last fall, Bob Chapman and I collaborated to conduct a mini-workshop with manufacturing executives. The purpose was to identify issues that offer opportunities to build a shared perspective on the relationship and a mutual commitment to success.

Tactical issues include:
  • Dealing with time constraints
  • Pinpointing and working the right priorities together
  • Handling price pressures
  • Handling competition pressure
  • Maintaining quality control
  • Establishing quality processes
  • Creating tools to support quality (e.g., checklists, processes, systems)
  • Finding ways to directly influence distributor behaviors
  • Creating/reinforcing professionalism

Strategic issues include:
  • Acknowledging that building the relationship takes two or more years
  • Acknowledging not many people want to be distributors/reps in today’s environment
  • Understanding there has been a complete change in distributor base
  • Developing strategies to identify quality distributors
  • Helping distributors identify, hire and retain top-quality team members
  • Helping distributors create a succession plan for longterm success
  • Dealing with multiple distribution channels and different types of distributors/dealers

Our immediate goal was to help manufacturers identify the hottest hotspots, not focus on solutions.

That's where Bob's upcoming workshop, Creating Accountability in the Distribution System, comes in. It's designed to help manufacturers find solutions that move distributor relationships from problematic to profitable … and help them stay there.

If you're struggling with your distributor and dealer relationships, perhaps it's time to contact an expert.

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