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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