In today’s competitive market alongside water regulations and laws, dealers, suppliers and manufacturers must strengthen their efforts to uphold and distribute the best quality products to end users — homeowners and business owners. Now more than ever, water industry professionals depend on one another to obtain optimal profitability and to effectively achieve both short- and long-term goals.
Just like in any healthy, thriving relationship, the success of the collaboration depends on a strong, solid foundation, open two-way communication and the will to persevere through the hardships and the triumphs. Besides simply supplying innovative products to consumers, crafting and maintaining a lucrative business relationship helps to establish the framework of amplified prosperity for years to come.
Implementing valuable communication strategies
Open and honest communication between the dealer and manufacturer is essential in securing a successful business relationship while effectively supplying consumers with a high quality product. “[The manufacturer and the dealer] relationship truly is a symbiotic relationship,” says Water-Right Inc. Director, Clear Choice and Marketing, Robert J. (RJ) Burke. “They need each other to grow a profit. If they keep that communication channel open and honest from both sides, [they are] going to develop and maintain that strong relationship — it’s going to happen by default.”
A receptive and patient realm of communication can ensure so much more than a straightforward transaction of goods and services. When a mutual respect is established, a manufacturer may be more willing to train and educate the dealer on how to best utilize the product to enhance profitability, while supplying end users with superlative service.
The codependent relationship also establishes a strong level of support. In addition to providing product training and education, manufacturers and suppliers can offer dealers ideas on how to most effectively market products, while taking into account what has previously turned a profit, and what has not.
If dealers are willing to discuss openly any issues that may affect their business, manufacturers/suppliers can also examine and propose solutions to proficiently resolve these concerns. This assistance is not only beneficial to the dealer, but the manufacturer/supplier also gains a stronger level of loyalty, resulting in the potential development of a longstanding, profitable business collaboration.
The level of communication within the relationship also directly impacts the value of the product being employed by end users, especially with product technology constantly evolving. “It is critical that the dealer and manufacturer have an ongoing two-way communication in their business relationship, so they are both aware of the changing landscape and can provide the products that have the technology necessary for the various water conditions in the different regional geographies,” explains Mike Barone, Northeastern regional sales manager for Canature.
Effects of the evolving communicative technology
Ensuring that quality product is being distributed to consumers depends on how dealers and manufacturers/suppliers are communicating. We live in a world where communication can be instant, with the ability to send information from virtually anywhere to anyone, ultimately revolutionizing the way business is conducted. “Our industry, we are at the tip of the iceberg, we really are,” says Luke Java, director of sales and marketing for Water-Right. “The manufacturer working with the dealer or the customer is light-years ahead of what it was even 10 years ago. The progress is there and it is getting much better.”
Having that straight, swift line of communication from the manufacturer to the dealer is essential in a prospering relationship. According to Barone, without this access to direct communication, it can result in “margin erosion to the dealer and affect his ability to grow and invest in his business for the long-term.”
Smartphones, tablets, email, Wi-Fi, etc., allow people to receive answers to their questions instantaneously, while connecting effectively whenever needed. This ultimately permits businesses to expand their client base by being able to communicate and amply assist customers quicker, easier and more efficiently, resulting in a greater probability of productivity.
“With the expansion of technology, it has become easier to conduct business at real time,” says Water Group Senior Regional Account Manager Curtis Wingfield. “This has evolved into the dealers having the ability to lower their inventories and schedule on-time delivery for their needs. With the connectivity at an all-time high, information is almost at one’s fingertips.”
Targeting and maintaining business relationships
Thanks to the continual advancements in communicative technology, maintaining flourishing business relationships are easier than ever. However, sometimes knowing which relationships will endure in the long run might require a little “trial and error.”
To form lasting, healthy relationships, dealers and suppliers should keep in mind the following questions, suggested by Safeway Water LLC President Neal DeLettre:
- How can my supplier help me grow my business?
- How about co-op advertising?
- Does my supplier provide sales training and technical support?
- Am I being offered proprietary equipment with cutting edge features, consumers need and want?
- Does my supplier sell the same product to my competitors?
In addition to these questions, dealers, manufacturers and suppliers have a plethora of opportunities throughout the year, such as attending trade shows and industry events, to meet/communicate with key business personnel that they might not otherwise have access to, allowing for the potential to create, cultivate and grow successful business relationships.
Establishing a business relationship rich in patience, flexibility and understanding can be achieved by any water industry professional if the desire, patience and will to do so is present. Optimal profitability is easily obtainable when the business relationship achieves honest, amicable communication infused successfully with today’s face-paced, communicative technology; and the outcome is advantageous on all levels. “The end result is being able to support the customers the way they should be supported,” explains Java. “And, that is huge in building relationships.”