In baseball, teamwork is essential to winning. It’s what separates reining World Series champions from ball clubs ending another season in the cellar. The security industry also subscribes to this well-known dogma. Although there is no gold trophy or major league title to garner, the “brass ring” comes in the form of increased revenue and an expanded customer base.
However, like a professional sports team, installing dealers, large or small, realize they can’t always do it alone. They need a good, reliable offense with a superb talent for scoring those much-needed extra runs. A distribution company can be the perfect utility player for a dealer. With value-added services, such as complete technical support and training, vast product selection, express delivery and local trade shows/expos, distribution firms lend added muscle to a client’s business.
Distributors, Dealers Create Symbiotic Relationship
The relationship a dealer has with his local distributor is extremely critical, especially when both share a common goal: generating repeat business. It’s not simply a matter of an installer running down to the corner store to pick up a PIR or camera housing, instead many distributors characterize their relationship with dealers as a partnership.
“We believe we are a support channel from the manufacturer to the dealer,” says Craig Curran, general manager of Tri-Ed in Garden Grove, Calif. He adds that it’s just as important to maintain a strong relationship with the manufacturer to provide the best services, support and price to the dealer.
Seth Hallen, president of Home Security in Van Nuys, Calif., agrees. “Tri-Ed has created a partnership between the distributor and the dealer that I haven’t experienced before,” he says. “The company offers service that most distributors don’t involve themselves with, and it’s been a great asset to the growth and success of our company.
Financing/Leasing Make Dealers More Competitive
To help dealers grow their business, many distributors now are offering financing/leasing programs to their customers.
Allen Sagat, president of KingAlarm in Hackensack, N.J., believes customers would rather not pay for anything right away, but on a month-to-month basis. Through its KingCapital finance/lease package, small-sized dealers can compete with large-sized installing companies.
Both ASI and ADI also have instituted finance/lease programs as part of their value-added services to customers.
Flexible Delivery Is Key to Offering Valuable Service
Traveling from one job site to another on a daily basis goes with the territory for most installing dealers. And many times, technicians will run into a situation where they desperately need a piece of equipment right away to complete the installation on schedule. Thus, quick delivery becomes the backbone of a distribution firm’s customer service.
Technical Assistance Becomes Lifeline for Dealers
“We want dealers to come to us for all solutions,” says Tri-Ed’s Curran. That also includes providing reliable technical support for its customers. For example, if a dealer contacts Tri-Ed with a dilemma, technical personnel have the proper training to provide a concise answer. If staff members do not have the answer right away, they assure the customer that they will research it, rather than simply referring him to the manufacturer.
Companies Lend Assistance Out in the Field
Technical support doesn’t end once a distributor hangs up the phone. It’s an ongoing effort to make certain the dealer is supplied with sufficient equipment as well as accurate technical advice. “We had an experience where our manager traveled down to Tiajuana for three days to help get a system up and running for a client,” recalls Curran.
Expos/Shows Establish Networking Channels
As a liaison between the dealer the and the manufacturer, distribution firms know the value of opening the communication lines. Each year, many companies sponsor expos all throughout the United States, bringing installing companies and national vendors onto the trade show floor.
KingAlarm in Hackensack, N.J., hosts its own gala affair, complete with red carpet and a tuxedo-clad sales staff. Dealers are encouraged to partake in the two-day show filled with exhibits, educational seminars and a dinner reception.
ADI takes its expos from city to city throughout the country, reaching a large number of its client base. Dealers can attend helpful training classes in various areas, such as commercial/residential telephone systems, home theater design and residential/commercial leasing programs.
Dealers Look to Distributors for Tremendous Inventory
“Above and beyond anything we do, supplying products in a timely fashion is the core need of the dealer,” contends Sagat. “Because a dealer can’t finish the job without the equipment, and obviously, he can’t get paid then.”
Distribution Forges Ahead in Promoting Dealer Growth
Armstrong contends it’s a team effort between the distributor and the dealer. Thus, Martco solicits input from its customers to help the company develop an enhanced service plan. “Whether it’s providing a better designed camera, or creating a mount that installs more easily, we listen to their needs and communicate them to the manufacturers,” Armstrong says.
For dealers of all sizes, having a variety of services at your disposal is critical to the ultimate success of your company. It’s up to you to select from these services and determine if each one will meet your company’s goals and objectives.