Leverage relationships to grow your business

Monday, September 1, 2008

As the security industry continues to evolve, dealers are looking for more ways to remain competitive and grow their businesses. With the fast pace of the industry and the constant time and energy demands on the dealer, it becomes more challenging for them to get everything done while also meeting the needs of the end user. Add to that the onset of new technologies, such as IP and networking, and dealers can quickly become overwhelmed. Never has it been more important to take advantage of partnerships and relationships than it is now.

A key partnership for dealers to leverage is that of their distributor. No one is more equipped to help dealers grow their businesses. The economies of scale that a distribution partner brings to the relationship allow for added efficiencies in the dealer’s operations. A strong distribution partner is more than a warehouse or credit department. By working closely with their distributors, dealers have more opportunity to focus on their core competencies of sales and customer service, while leaving much of the back-office responsibilities to be managed by the distributor.

In many cases, the distributor provides a one-stop-shop for the dealer—from pre- and post-sale support to industry-leading products to educational opportunities and technical support. The more a distributor can offer and the dealer takes advantage of, the more efficient the dealer can be. What’s more, it’s important to work with a distributor that is customer-focused and has a sense of urgency equal to that of the dealer.

Distributors are fortunate to have a direct line to the manufacturer and can serve as a dealer’s best advocate, providing product, pricing and technical assistance. And, by having multiple manufacturer relationships, distributors deliver a level of interoperability expertise that often isn’t available at a direct level. This level of assistance ensures the dealer they are purchasing the best solution to meet their end-user’s needs. Some distributors can even assemble these solutions, load the software and manage the rollout, again allowing the dealer to focus on increasing sales and accommodating customer needs.

In addition to a strong solution focus, dealers need to take advantage of the additional value their distributor can bring them, be it creating specialized marketing pieces to help them target their message, enhancing their online presence through e-commerce solutions, or assisting in telemarketing and lead-generation campaigns.

I have also found one need that remains top of mind with the dealers I speak to regularly. And that is education and training. The best dealer is the well-educated dealer. As the industry evolves, so, too, must the dealer. It’s critical that dealers understand emerging technologies and how they can benefit their customers. The better informed the dealer the more likely they are to become entrenched in their end-user’s business, becoming the main source for all of their security solutions. Distributors that make these educational opportunities available to their customers and provide manufacturer training can only help the dealer to remain competitive, in step with the industry, and top of mind with the end user.

Partnerships are important and should be cultivated. The closer a dealer’s relationship with its distributor, the more services they can provide to its end users. This greatly increases their value quotient, enabling them to develop an even stronger bond with their customer. And in this competitive era, that’s sure to set a dealer apart from the rest.

Tony Sorrentino is vice president of merchandising for ScanSource Security.