Volume 10, Issue 4                             July/August 2006

by Rob Tait

Are You Subjected 
to Distributor Complacency?

The feelings I’m about to express may not be the norm in your particular country, and are my findings only, but I feel that complacency is one of the least recognized problems between film distributor and dealers.
Complacency begins when the distributor assumes that the shop owner will go on buying a product just because that’s how it always has been.

What many may fail to realize is that the lines of communication can never be taken for granted and a bad deal, a failed warranty claim or a problem that might occur somewhere in the past, or present, can affect the relationship between distributor and shop negatively. Distributors cannot afford just to be order-takers. 

I see this often when distributors simply ask their customers, “What do [you] want?” Film dealers have to be nurtured and cajoled because we are the engine room of the whole industry. Without us, nothing happens at the coal face, and, without us, the distributors don’t have a business.

If you call it pampering, then so be it … but I want in because I’m a shop owner like so many others, with the dollars to spend.

It’s amazing how sometimes distributors assume we know about potential sales or marketing material and fail to advise us of it; sometimes, only from speaking with other tinters or shop owners do we find out about the existence of it.
Country or out-of-town shops get even more of a raw deal because they are considered “too far away” to be of any real value and their sales are generally lower than those of shops in a more populated area. But they have money to spend just like those in the big city. In truth, many such small tint businesses can have a combined sales clout far greater than one big city lot.

From my personal point of view, I’ve experienced the occasional curt retort and bad phone attitude; I’ve had distributors decide on my behalf that a certain item won’t interest me. Let me decide, please. The same goes for new promotional film material, new tools, etc. Don’t assume. Tell me everything you’ve got.

Here’s an analogy for you. Are you rewarded for being patriotic? I think not.

From my experience in the sales industry (while working for a huge multi-national company before I knew about window film), one of the major criteria was to set achievable sales targets and have a goal. You knew that, if you made that goal, an excellent benefit would be awaiting those achievers.

I don’t see this reward scheme within our industry in Australia at all. As a result, the commitment to stay 100 percent with one distributor is not there. This massive oversight really shows the hierarchy and sales staff. 
It may be different in your country and I can only hope that it is, but I don’t see too many nodding heads.

What should change?

For starters, most tint shops would have a “collection of different film products” from a multitude of distributors all based around the same wholesale price. 

To win business from the dealer network, it only takes one distributor to get smart and employ selling tactics with a qualified staff that knows the product and has the technical knowledge to serve the market.
I also find that the lack of a network between fellow tinters within the same country is a huge hole that needs to be plugged. Film products do have problems occasionally. Some are harder to fit than others, and yet someone may be sitting on an answer not shared.

Most shop-owners are reluctant to strike up a relationship with their competitors for fear of generating some form of discontent within their businesses, yet a group discussion of similar dealers within a distributors’ network could do wonders. Do you receive any meaningful newsletters?

A once-a-year get-together (if you are lucky to get one at all) is not enough considering the rapid development of the industry. You can never have enough information!

So, in summary, ask yourself these questions: 
1. When was the last time you saw your distributor? and
2. Are they doing the right thing by you?

True solidarity is what is needed and we as dealers should help distributors realize that their next dollar only comes from the way we are treated today. After all, we are only an extension of their sales arm.

There is always vast room for improvement, for we are far too insular, thanks to our distributors. WF

Rob Tait is the owner of Car Tint Pty. Ltd in Melbourne, Australia.

©2006 Key Communications Inc. 385 Garrisonville Road, Suite 116, Stafford, VA  22554
Phone: 540/720-5584, Fax: 540/720-5687 e-mail: film@glass.com