The peasants are rioting in the streets!

Ok, I’m getting slightly outraged. I have been receiving messages from window film dealers all around the country lately detailing how their suppliers are out selling window film and bringing their dealers the install rather than the entire sale. This is nothing new but it seems to be more common than ever before. What’s up? You manufacturers and distributors know who I’m talking about… should I name names here? It seems as though just about every one of you has set up some kind of direct to commercial sales program and now you have assumed the role of competitor in the minds of your customers.

I can empathize with the competitive situation between manufactures, I have a similar situation on the retail side myself. Where does the line get crossed though? You can only sell around your customers for so long until it reaches a point to where you completely undermine your relationship with your customer as well as undermining the market place. So let me address some of the excuses that I have heard on the supply side of this issue.

One dealer cannot handle an entire national account…

True, but the sale could be negotiated so that the national chain makes the film purchase through a local dealer at each chain store location for an agreed upon rate. Does Taco Bell’s UFPC sell beans and tortillas direct to large buyers or do they make them go to their franchise partners and buy a Buritto Supreme? Can you see people bringing their beans, tortillas, cheese, and so forth into the local Taco Bell requesting them to just cook and prepare it and at a reduced charge? Absurd! To the contrary, Taco Bell’s operating entity makes sure that it’s retail outlets are equipped and capable of handling business otherwise they cannot be an outlet.

There is not enough room in the deal to include a local dealer in the film sale. We can only close the sale if the dealer takes a modest installation rate.

Well, that is your fault! Manufacturers and Distributors have created a commodity environment where prices have been driven down so far that there is no longer any healthy margins to sustain their own dealer base. Oversaturated markets with dealers peddling the same brand films right across the street from one another drives prices down not up. Why do some of you continue to pursue the oversaturation business model? See what you are contributing too?

Dealers are not capable of handling the financial implications of a large project.

True, this industry is full of great window tinters but that does not automatically make them great business persons. Again though, it is in the suppliers power to determine who they will do business with first. I know there are some great companies out there that are very capable of handling the financial logistics of a large project but in your eyes the only ones remotely capable are called distributors. Distribution is not retail nor is retail distribution… quit blurring the line here. How do dealers feel when they have to bid against a company that at the same time tries to supply the same product to them? The peasants are tired of being treated this way. Your actions have spawned a flourishing contract installation movement that creates more transient behavior which undermines your efforts to build solid dealers.

If we don’t sell it, some other manufacturer will…

Ok… then what happens? After your dealer base dries up and blows away are you going to handle the install too? Because if you don’t, some other manufacturer will you know.

Dealers lack the skills necessary to negotiate and close large projects.

Well then train them. They are your customers, you will reap from their rewards.

Where is your loyalty? How come you are using other suppliers instead of us exclusively? We’d let you in on the deal if you were exclusively buying from us…

Where is my loyalty? Uh, let me turn that around… where is your loyalty? If I meet all of my obligations to you (ie. purchase requirements) shouldn’t I be rewarded by being allowed to be a window film dealer rather than an installing entity? Poor accounts are one thing, but when a dealer is carrying their load, they should also get a measure of loyalty in return.

This customer will only deal directly with corporate, they do not do business with retail dealers…

And who set the precedent for this? Will the same customer only deal with corporate on the installation end as well? Can’t you just see it now… Window Film CEO’s, CFO’s, and the like all will their tool belts and OLFA knives ready to go out and install film. After all, this customer will only deal directly with corporate… yeah, ok.

Dealers do not have the time necessary to close large jobs or national accounts…

In most cases that is true. But I have to digress back to the issue of partnering through the whole process. Sure the supplier is in a position in most cases to make 1st contact, propose, bid, and close the deal. So why has the industry stopped short and cut their dealer base off at the knees by refusing to move the film sale through the retail outlet rather than the source? Has your practice strengthened the market or has it eroded it?

And This Wasn’t Enough…

We have been contending with these “Premium Film Programs” that are for the privileged (volume) dealers (Or the only dealer in the middle of nowhere) that will throw down the cash for their own exclusive slice of the pie. I was approached a few years back and offered a Prestigious Program for a mere $15K where I would have a territory all to myself provided that I rid myself of every vestige of competing film brands.

Well that was the deal then but a lot has changed. The exclusive territories are now Depots where companies from thousands of miles away can run virtual outlets and negotiate installations with local dealers (my competition) and even have access to other brands of film if a bid calls for it. Now if I had spent my $15K way back when, how would it be explained to me that now I have to share my slice of the pie with the boys from Georgia? How much did they spend to have a share of my territory? It is things like this that have dealers seeing red… no pun intended. Well, maybe just a little pun intended… -lol

I know this is just scratching the surface of the whole issue and there is a whole other side to this story from a supplier’s standpoint. But here is the reality. I am getting to the point where I will ask every supplier that wants to do business with me if they are out procuring sales from my potential customers. Will I find myself bidding against my supplier? If so, then why should I do business with them? If the supplier explains that their direct to commercial account program is designed to capture business that is normally lost to the dealer anyway, then how is the transaction going to be handled? Will I be a window film dealer or simply an installer?

And while I am asking I may as well inquire whether or not there will be a competing company roving about negotiating deals with my competition, starting new partnerships with my designers, window covering, and glass companies all while selling the same brand of film that you want me to buy from you for after I pay my buy-in. When I ask, will you be truthful with me?


Window Film Dealers should not have to compete against their suppliers!

Perhaps this is what all dealers should do? I know I am not alone, others have spoken out about the reality of doing business with supplying companies. The peasants are outraged and yet despite the mania I have found a few select companies that still treat me as a partner but it is a two way street which requires that I hold to my end of the partnership. Yes, there are expectations that I must meet and that is usually not a problem so long as we work collectively to build our business and marketplaces so that both sides can grow and flourish.

Hold on supply side and don’t get outraged at me yet… I will discuss what I know of your side and the challenges that you face with us dealers in a future blog.

-vc

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1 Response to “The peasants are rioting in the streets!”



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