Recently I attended a meeting with a new customer regarding a new product line that we had acquired and would soon be representing.
This is a big opportunity for us and I was really looking forward to meeting their management team and introducing them to the key players in our organization who would be working with them on a daily basis. We had been provided a list of specific questions in advance and our team had prepared well. This would be the start of a great relationship.
We began with introductions, including the background history of our two companies. We went around the room describing our various roles and responsibilities and what we hoped to get out of the meeting. There was nothing unusual about it. It was something we had done countless times. It was only after we began working through the list of questions when they dropped one that wasn’t on the list:
“Why do we need a dealer?”
That question should not have surprised anyone. This customer has multiple locations in several states, a long history of buying direct from the manufacturer, and they pride themselves on leveraging their purchasing processes to lower costs and increase efficiency.
My response was equally predictable. “That is a very good question,” I said. All I needed then was a very good answer.
It’s a question that has been asked by customers and manufacturers for as long as machines, engines, parts, and service have been on the market. The answer is a simple one: A quality dealer brings unique value to the relationship that is tangible and beneficial to the end user.
Our team at the meeting brought deep experience, so we were able to provide a thorough explanation of how our dealership’s local investment in people, training, inventories, and facilities would benefit their operations.
By all appearances, they could see how our involvement may actually provide significant value to them as long as we deliver what we promise. We’re confident we can. After all, that’s the role of the dealer.
Although pleased with the outcome of this meeting, I wondered how deep the understanding of our value equation penetrates our organization. On the long ride home, I concluded that we certainly could talk about this much more internally to ensure that our employees have a greater understanding of why our business model has survived all these years.
I began to think of the many ways our people add to the value provided by our dealership. I also thought of various opportunities to talk with them about it.
One came up just a few days later when the first of many groups of our field service personnel come in for several days of training, computer updates, and team building. I spoke to them about how much value they bring to our customers and how this additional investment on their behalf, and ours, keeps us sharp and better prepared in the highly technical environment that we have today.
There is a reason the dealer business model has survived: we keep bringing demonstrable value to the marketplace and applying our expertise to enhance and protect your investment.
About the author
Mike Quirk is the Vice President of Operations at Wagner Equipment in Aurora, Colorado and the current Chairman of Associated Equipment Distributors. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.