Last month we featured a panel of small and midsize dealers who addressed their daily challenges, manufacturer relationships, navigating their dealerships through the pandemic, why they are successful, and how they envision the future for dealers of their size. Here’s how they responded to the question, can manufacturers do a better job of meeting the needs of their smaller and mid-sized dealers?
“Small and mid-sized dealers need help on pricing programs that put them on equal footing with larger dealers and directs. Complicated pricing programs and excessive documentation force dealers to jump through hoops to compete. It’s not a good use of their resources.” Ray Belanger, president, Bay Copy, Rockland, Massachusetts
“Manufacturers could offer the small to mid-sized dealership comparable pricing that the larger dealers receive. I know certain manufacturers do a great job having local representatives help on a weekly or monthly basis for the sales team. Having local support is of great value-add to dealers of my size because it’s nice to show customers that we have manufacturer support.” Earl Everson, president, Elite Document Solutions, Schaumburg, Illinois
“Our primary line is Ricoh, and overall, I think they do a great job of providing support to our organization. I think in this industry, it’s the norm to feel like the manufacturers are always going to cater to the larger players. One setback I feel that the pandemic has brought on is a lack of hands-on support and training the manufacturers were once providing. A lot of the in-person interaction and education that our sales reps and technicians used to experience has transitioned to virtual, and I feel this creates a disconnect and disservice to the organization. We are definitely missing the large corporate gatherings that presented educational and social aspects that we’re all in need of, and this might be the perfect place for the manufacturers to start.” Mallory Lopez, controller, Barlop Business Systems, Miami, Florida
“They can do a better job by distributing their products to all of their dealers, not just the larger ones or to the manufacturer themselves. There must be a way to split up whatever inventory is coming in to help small to mid-sized dealers, and not just the larger ones.” Van Seretis, principal, Premium Digital Office Solutions, Parsippany, New Jersey
“Yes. Most OEMs seem to favor the larger dealers with programs and pricing that benefits larger dealers. I understand the reasoning behind it, but it can make it more difficult for the SMB dealers in some cases. In the past, OEMs could use backend monies to help the smaller dealers (MDF, Co-op, etc.), but we’ve seen a sharp decline in what some of the OEMs offer today. The other issue is pricing support. All OEMs will go to the well for bids, but SMB dealers live in the down-the-street business and smaller takedowns (five to 10 units). These deals don’t usually qualify for special pricing, which can put us at a disadvantage when competing with large dealers because of the better pricing tier they may be able to purchase the equipment. This has been amplified by the pandemic, where the smaller dealer may not be stocking as much inventory and reserving cash instead of putting it on the shelf and tying up cash flow. I don’t think there is a simple answer for the issue, but OEMs need to remember that the smaller dealers, especially in smaller markets, need pricing support to continue to drive profitable business.” Kevin Simpson, president, Southwest Copy Systems, Albuquerque, New Mexico
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