The Big Question February 2018

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Are manufacturers doing enough to support the dealer network?

Kevin Rawcliffe, Ikon furniture

Some are better at grasping what a quality professional reseller requires than others. There are ones that don’t put their heads above the parapet and, unfortunately, are still looking at the bottom line. This has a great influence on both service and standards, and our customer engagement – unfortunately this also has a high impact on our client’s experience. My advice to a manufacturer is, don’t over promise and under deliver – exceed your reseller’s expectations.

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Mark Penketh, Penketh Group

All manufacturers are at different stages of development, however, I must say that they are all in better shape than they were five years ago. Manufacturers who open too many dealerships is a frustration, so less of that would be good. The biggest problem for most is reacting to changes in the marketplace to catch trends. Some of the manufacturers are leading the way – but the  majority just follow.

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Tony Antoniou, Rainbow

The majority of manufacturers Rainbow work with do a fantastic job supporting us – and have invested in improved showroom experiences, development of new products and excellent sales support material. Whilst they all have great products, several allow us to show different work environments, which is a huge help for us and our clients. A few manufacturers did the opposite and chose to tighten their belts – they are now suffering as their products and service have dropped.

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Steve Fitch, Office Furniture London 

As in every industry, there are good and bad manufacturers. It is our job to know who are the exceptional ones, who are the mediocre ones and take that into account on our clients’ behalf. Generally, the level of commercial acumen, loyalty, innovation, service and support within our industry is high. We strive to only work with manufacturing partners who understand the importance of quality, design, value and service.

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Luke Monro, Wellworking

The traditional manufacturer’s route to market has never been under more pressure than it is now. As many of the major players look to take their model online, the dealers must show their added value more than ever. The successful manufacturers, going forward, will be helping their dealers augment their brand through delivering an excellent overall client experience and ensuring that performance benefits are achieved through training and behavioural change management, rather than just through box shifting.

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Mark Pearson, Heatons office solutions

Are they? One could argue that it depends on who you ask? I’m sure that most manufacturers would say they are, whilst a number of dealers would say they are probably not. In order for any element of support to work, there has to be an understanding from both parties as to how they see that relationship working – both sides’ expectations notwithstanding. It is hard for a manufacturer to have a ‘one size fits all’ dealer strategy – as so many can have such specific requirements of that relationship. But, as a dealer, there has to at least be a bare minimum service level agreement, with finer points worked out between the two.