Thursday, July 7, 2011

Price increases mid year?

Perhaps I'm a bit accustomed to working together with our valued distributors as opposed to working purely for the short term profit, but how can manufacturer's and importers see fit to increase prices in the middle of the year knowing full well that most of their customers print a catalog that is good for the entire year?

Are there really that many unforeseen cost increases? Was I the only one who saw that the economy is down? Was I the only one who saw that the dollar is weak?

I can surely understand that its not just some manufacturers causing problems. We've received our share of extremely demanding and ridiculous vendor agreements. My concern is that the continuous looking out for oneself versus working together for common success is going to have an immediate and long lasting impact on our industry.

Remember when relationships meant something in our business? I sure do. I'd like to see that come back. We pride ourselves at Fischer Technical that we, along with our principals, work with this in mind. Do you need a special service along with your order or have an "out of left field" request? Please ask us, the worst we can do is keep you in the same position that you were already in. Our way of business is to treat our distributors with the respect they deserve and we'll do all we can to meet any special requests. This is how small, family businesses have been successful over the years.

What actions do your vendors/distributors take that bother you? These are the ones that bother me the most:

1. Answer the phone please. - I'm not calling to sell you health insurance, I'm calling you to say hello, share with you a new product that others in the industry are profiting from, ask for your advice, share industry news, etc. Are we too big for phones these days?

2. Please reply to your email! - See #1

3. Please write down, use your computer calendar, etc our appointments. - Its frustrating when I've set an appointment, confirmed it a day or two before and show up at one of our distributors to find an empty office or to learn that they simply forgot about the meeting. I assure you, I've put a great deal of effort in my preparations and have spent hundreds or thousands of dollars to come see you. Its in both of our best interests for us both to be prepared.

4. Remember that I've taken an airplane to see you and likely have several appointments that day. - Ive been in situations where the person I'm meeting with decided to take a long/late lunch or asked for last minute rescheduling.

5. Please keep your word. - When I make a promise to put together a presentation for you or complete market research, I do everything in my power to complete the task to a "T". I'd rather hear an "I'm not interested" than for someone to put me to work on some extensive research just to transition the conversation/meeting.

6. Please do not demand to receive "The lowest price you offer". - This is most applicable when a vendor purchases a small fraction of a specific item and demands to receive the same price as someone who purchases 25x more. I always will offer you the best price I can and I value all of my distributors equally.

7. Give me a chance to make it right. - Murphy's law is always alive and well. Shipments can be damaged, storms can knock out our phone lines, we may even ship the order incorrectly on a very rare occasion. I assure you, it was not meant as a practical joke and we receive no joy in causing grief. When given the chance, good business people will always do what they can to right a wrong.

8. Please treat vendor - distributor relationships as a partnership. - The end goal for a business relationship is to make it profitable and fulfilling for both of us. Pushing one or the other around does not make it feel like a partnership and is not healthy for a solid long lasting business relationship.

By going back to the way small businesses became successful, vendor/dealer relations can improve and likely result in increased profits for all parties involved.

Have a great day!


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