Tag Dealer Support

Tag Dealer Support

4 Ways for Manufacturers to Keep Dealers Engaged in Their Brand

March 10, 2015 Tags: , , , ,
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Most of the companies we work with here at Digabit rely on distributors and dealers to get their products in front of customers. This creates multiple layers between the manufacturer and consumer, leaving OEMs with little direct access to their end users.

As a result, maintaining strong dealer relationships is vital to manufacturing success. If the dealer isn’t happily engaged, the customer is unlikely to be excited about or even interested in the manufacturer’s product.

So how should manufacturers treat dealers in order to ensure that the end user will feel engaged with the brand?

A couple years ago, Gallup aimed to find the answer to strong supplier-distributor relationships, noting that the most effective ones were generally those in which manufacturers treated dealers, not as employees or customers, but as partners.

Let’s look at a few ways manufacturing executives can make that partnership work and optimize dealer performance:

1. Offer Exclusive Territories

Occasionally, manufacturers try to add more and more outlets for their products as a way to fuel growth. Unfortunately, as The Wall Street Journal explained, this strategy often leads to having too many dealers competing against each other for the same customers.

For a more dealer-friendly – and, ultimately, manufacturer-friendly ­– approach, offer your existing dealers larger, exclusive territories in exchange for greater promotion and display of your products. This might require cutting off weaker dealers so that you can focus your energy on high performers and ensure the market isn’t oversaturated or too competitive.

2. Improve Training Resources

While manufacturers have limited control over their dealers’ management policies, they can share best sales practices and training resources for a mutually beneficial relationship. Since the dealer’s salespeople serve as the OEM’s brand ambassadors, training can be a critical tool in helping dealers attract and retain top talent, turning their sales force into brand champions.

Motivated and well-trained dealers are better equipped to help customers understand the advantages and unique performance qualities of manufacturer’s equipment.

3. Setup One-on-One Support

To truly build and deepen manufacturer-dealer relationships, it’s helpful to have a point person. Arctic Cat, for example, promises its dealers a high degree of personal attention from a dedicated District Sales Manager and back it up with a 24-hour response guarantee.

Not only can field sales representatives maintain regular communication with dealers and keep them informed of new products and resources, but dealers will have the added benefit of knowing exactly who to contact with questions or feedback.

4. Help with Repairs

When products break, dealers need instantaneous access to part and repair information. By providing a centralized, electronic portal of repair manuals, instructional videos, maintenance advice, and parts information, OEMs can help dealers service their customers’ equipment quickly and efficiently.

Simply making these resources readily available will increase dealer productivity and profits and generate high customer satisfaction.

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How Equipment Manufacturers Can Create a Successful Parts Sales Strategy

March 5, 2015 Tags: , , , ,
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While the aftermarket used to be an afterthought, leading OEMs have started to recognize the effect of parts sales on their overall financial health.

Not only are these sales less cyclical, but also they also frequently generate more profit and revenue than original equipment sales. According to Industry Week, sales from spare parts comprise 40% to 60% of total manufacturer revenues.

This is no surprise, considering American businesses and consumers spend approximately $1 trillion every year on assets they already own.

But the challenge – and it’s a formidable one – lies in devising and adapting a spare parts sales plan to ensure your dealers and customers buy OEM parts to help maximize profit margins.

Let’s go through a few of the ways you can drive growth, encourage customer retention and create a competitive advantage with your aftermarket strategy.

It’s All About Loyalty

As we’ve mentioned before, success in the aftermarket depends primarily on catering to your established base of customers. Delivering impeccable customer service and emphasizing the values you share with your customers are surefire methods to build customer loyalty.

Maintaining your customer base also depends on the durability of your original equipment. Every equipment replacement is an opportunity to lose your customers to a competitor.

On the other side of the coin, however, Sheila Brennan, program manager for Smart Service and Aftermarket Strategies at IDC Manufacturing Insights, cautions that “OEM executives must keep in mind that increased reliability of equipment is a double-edged sword when it comes to customer intimacy. Fewer service events mean fewer opportunities to create brand loyalty and form a customer relationship.”

For your aftermarket strategy to work, you have to find the middle ground between unreliable and over-durable. Providing extended service warranties and discounted equipment upgrades can help reduce the likelihood that customers will switch to competitors.

Lock In Your Customers

Third-party aftermarket parts suppliers will almost always win when it comes to price, so OEMs have to give customers a compelling reason to go with their parts. While this can come in the form of greater quality assurance or a better service experience, the most foolproof way to ensure customers will choose your part over the competitor’s is to give them no other option.

Patented part designs, service expertise, convenient replacement kits or warranties are all proactive offerings that lock customers into your aftermarket. You are supplying something they simply can’t get anywhere else.

Predictive analytics company Forio offers the basic example of a patented three-prong stapler and staples. While the original product – the stapler – itself may not have a huge market, in order to derive any value from it, every customer will also need to buy a few boxes of three-prong staples on a repeat basis. Over time, sales of staples will far surpass sales of staplers.

The Importance of Technology

To manage and grow aftermarket parts sales effectively, manufacturing executives have to put the proper tools in place.

Warren Smith, global industry director at Infor, suggests that you utilize fast, agile technology that is specialized for the equipment industry. “It will need to span the entire lifecycle of the equipment, from manufacture to aftermarket service, in one integrated solution.”

Incorporating manufacturing-specific products like Documoto into your aftermarket mix empowers dealers and customers to make real-time decisions based on accurate information and order the spare parts they need in a fast, convenient and electronic way. This enhances expert technical support and delivers unprecedented value to your customers, boosting spare part sales and driving repeat business.

Learn more about using Documoto as an integral solution for aftermarket parts sales.

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4 Tips to Help Dealers Get Their Aftermarket Parts Faster

February 16, 2015 Tags: , , , ,
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While most customers don’t expect their original equipment to last decades without routine maintenance and repairs, they do expect manufacturers to quickly fix products when they break down.

Unfortunately, achieving faster turnaround times on parts orders is easier said than done. Harvard Business Review reported that roughly 50% of consumers faced unnecessary delays in repairs because dealers didn’t have the right parts to fix them.

To support dealers in minimizing equipment downtime, it’s imperative that OEMs find a way to shorten the period between order and delivery. Here are a few tips to help you meet the demand for quick turnaround:

Standardize Order Processing Procedures

To curtail the order-to-cash cycle, Aberdeen Group’s recent research report suggests creating standard procedures for quotation, order management, order fulfillment and delivery, and then integrating these into a single portal from which all parts orders are handled.

According to the report, companies that have standardized their order management processes boast 30% lower invoice volumes requiring manual intervention than those that haven’t.

By integrating your ERP system with your parts lookup and order entry software, you can ensure every order received is in an appropriate, easy-to-follow format and seamless move between programs, eliminating much of the manual effort.

Activate Your Dealers

Give your dealers the means and information to act quickly, accurately and decisively on their own so they can respond instantaneously to customer needs.

Not only is self-service cheaper, most people actually prefer it. According to a study by Nuance Enterprise, 67% of respondents said they preferred self-service over speaking to a company representative.

Making parts books and online ordering are available 24/7 is like short-circuiting the order process. Dealers can find pricing and part availability and place an order in a matter of seconds. This bypasses long, back-and-forth exchanges with customer service and shrinks the time between knowing a repair needs to happen and placing the order.

Manufacture Near Your Market

Many larger manufacturers have elected to open additional manufacturing sites near dealers to expedite turnaround time. The philosophy essentially boils down to, “build the majority of what you sell, in the market where you sell it.”

While it requires a substantial capital investment, moving closer to local markets can save drastically on both shipping expenses and delivery time. Additionally, if a major disaster (like a flood or earthquake) slows production at one facility, the other site can keep the ball rolling to ensure dealers receive their parts in a timely manner.

A similar strategy we’ve also been seeing lately is manufacturing near suppliers. When slow order fulfillment is due to the availability of raw materials or goods, it might be time to consider switching suppliers or moving closer to your existing ones.

Manage Expectations

The advent of eCommerce has made customers accustomed to shorter and shorter timeframes between order and delivery. To allay dissatisfaction in cases where a fast turnaround just isn’t possible, manufacturers must set realistic expectations for order delivery.

Tell dealers exactly when they will receive their goods as they’re placing the order. By establishing a more generous time frame upfront, you reset the preconception of immediacy.

What strategies has your company implemented to improve turnaround times? Let us know in the comments.

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