Dealer-Manufacturer InterdependenceBy Walter Berry
Article Date: 04-01-2005
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
To be successful, dealers must also do their part well.
Having just returned from a trip to the East Coast to meet with one of our primary suppliers, I cannot help but think about the importance of our relationships with the manufacturers we represent.
I touched on dealer-manufacturer interdependence during my Inaugural speech in San Antonio. Also, in my editorial last month, I said it was one of the top four objectives in 1971 when my father was President of AED. And one of AED's Strategic Excellence Positions for 2005 is Distribution Channel Advocacy, which certainly includes this issue.
In preparing for this editorial, I found it helpful to remind myself of what is meant by being dependent, independent, and interdependent. Dependent, of course, means someone else supplies our aid or support. Independent means we are not influenced or controlled by others. But interdependent means we are mutually dependent on someone else.
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey does a very good job of describing that progression. We come into this world completely dependent on others. As we grow, learn skills, and mature, we should become independent at some point. As we continue to progress, hopefully we learn that, to maximize our success, we must be interdependent.
This interdependence comes when we recognize we are not at the mercy of everyone or everything around us. At the same time, we recognize that our actions do affect others and their actions can affect us.
In the equipment distribution industry, our relationships with the manufacturers we represent is a primary example of interdependence. Space in this editorial does not permit me to list everything our manufacturers are primarily responsible for, but a short list would include the product - its quality, features and benefits, and cost.
A short list of a dealership's primary responsibilities would include market coverage, customer interface, and after-market support. For our manufacturers to be successful, they must do their part well.
For dealers to be successful the same rules apply! We dealers must do our part well, too. In a free market economy, there are multiple ways to get a product to market. Our trade association represents independent dealers. If, as a group, we want to be successful, we need to understand the needs of our manufacturers, and we need to adapt ourselves to meet those needs.
If we do that well, manufacturers will look to us to deliver their products to the market place. If, on the other hand, we do not meet their needs, manufacturers will have no other choice but to use an alternative distribution channel.
In order to understand each other's needs, we must be talking and listening to each other. These conversations need to take place at all levels of our respective organizations from our sales representatives to our chief executives.
AED has a plan to meet with many of the key manufacturers in this industry during 2005. Some of these meetings have already taken place. But at the same time, my company needs to plan more meetings with the manufacturers we represent, like the one we had this week. Do you have plans to meet with yours?
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