Wholesalers’ Role Vital To Flooring Contractors
Richard Harris, marketing manager at F Ball and Co explains the key role of wholesalers in the contract flooring sector:
A QUOTE frequently repeated many years ago was: ‘It’s not the job the contractor wants to do today, it’s the job he has to do.’ And it still holds true today.
This comment helps to illustrate why the role of wholesalers is so important for the effective and efficient supply of products from manufacturers to contractors.
In the above context it relates to the unpredictability of the construction industry, in general, such that a flooring contractor can turn up on site to undertake a flooring installation only to be turned away, because other work still has to be completed before he can do his job.
He can either try to fit in another job while he’s waiting or waste the day. It’s at times like this, when he might need immediate supplies to help him undertake a different installation, that the availability of product at a wholesaler is vital. To be able to walk in, pick up the stuff he needs and head off to earn his living is crucial to the viability of his business.
For the whole process to work effectively product manufacturers and wholesalers both have to do their bit and work in a mutually beneficial partnership.
It should also be implicit in the relationship between manufacturer and wholesaler that both parties respect their positions. For example, a manufacturer that deals directly with a contractor is taking sales away from a wholesaler. It should never happen, for products like adhesives and underlayments, but unfortunately for some manufacturers, the temptation of ‘making the sale’ leads them to cross this boundary.
Convenience, product availability and having an understanding of the local market are what wholesalers offer. Without these three things, everything becomes a lot more difficult.
For consumable products, such as these, contractors will expect wholesalers to hold them in stock, just as you would expect a supermarket to have milk on its shelves.
From a product manufacturer’s point of view, the wholesaler offers an expedient way of getting products to the contractor.
In return, manufacturers must do their bit to support the wholesaler. Simple things, such as next day deliveries and no minimum order quantities, help to reduce the amount of stock a wholesaler needs to hold, while still being able to guarantee availability.
Supporting wholesalers, who stock our products, by promoting these products and their benefits to contractors, helps to direct contractors to the wholesaler and drive sales of the product.
Along the same lines, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to build confidence and trust in their brands, so that contractors know that the products will not let them down and that they are getting value for money.
Ensuring contractors know which products they need for a particular job and that they’re not taking a risk makes the product selection and purchase process so much easier. The F Ball Recommended Adhesives Guide (RAG), for example, provides contractors with reassurance that they get exactly this.
On high turnover, consumable products, where margins for the wholesaler might not be as high as other products, helping to keep up and increase the level of sales helps both cashflow and profit. Here, again, manufacturers have an important role to play.
For the last few years, with the tough economic climate we’ve all had to face, F Ball has developed its loyalty card scheme, offering cashback on purchases and other inducements to contractors to help drive business through wholesalers. Used tactically, the scheme has also been used to help launch new products and help boost the profile of other products. All of this is designed to keep the stock flowing through the wholesaler and keep cashflow tuning over.
The roles of wholesaler and manufacturer are clearly defined. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership. Manufacturers heavily invest in product development, branding and promotion to make their products as attractive as possible to the contractor. Wholesalers’ investment is in the local supply of products, ensuring availability when a contractor needs it.
For many contractors, that day will be today, not doing the job he wants to do, but doing the job he has to do. Wholesalers, supported in the right way by manufacturers, make sure he can do.
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.