Thursday, July 29, 2010

What Can A Good Rep Firm Do For You?

by Logan Enright, CTS

The role of the manufacturers’ rep firm, such as The Enright Company, is simple but at the same time often misunderstood by many in our industry. Clearly there is some confusion when an integrator asks “Do we get X (name a manufacturer) from you”? The italics are on get and from. This implies the individual believes the rep company is the entity that ships and bills your company. A pure rep does not stock product for sale. He is an agent of the manufacturer with full authority, but the goods come from the factory or manufacturer’s warehouse.

Better rep firms have offices, fully trained staff, demo facilities, host shows, training seminars, open houses, golf tournaments and other marketing events. These services make them quite valuable to the manufacturers and integrators they serve. Reps are independent contractors who are paid commission only under the IRS 1099 Misc tax model. This lowers overhead for the manufacturer as they only pay us when we sell something. Reps carry multiple lines and do the same tasks as the sales person who is employed directly by a manufacturer.

So what can a good rep offer your integration company?
  1. Knowledge – Reps by virtue of having many lines and many years in the industry have a wide spectrum of experience in the industry. Especially useful for your new hires.
  2. Confidentiality. A good rep firm subscribes to complete confidentiality – we only disclose public info– nothing more. Loose lips sink ships.
  3. Contacts. We know pretty much everyone in the region. You might want information on key individuals in the industry. Glad to introduce you, unless it violates number 2 above.
  4. Advocacy – We can make your relationships with our manufacturers smoother and visa versa, as we know both party’s inner workings. We regularly negotiate on your behalf.
  5. Client meetings. Invite a rep to your next call to help drive the business - We are good in front of your clients. This includes only discussing what we are brought into discuss. We’ll show up on time, well groomed and have a lot to offer the sales call.
  6. Demonstrations and free demo goods. Reps typically have one or more of all items we sell consigned to us and are anxious to get them out on demo. Just ask.
  7. Exposure to new products. It’s what we are all about.
  8. Leads. They’re still out there – ask your rep (and your factory guys) for them.
  9. Price and availability inquiries. A good rep will do cross price quotes from other manufacturers.
  10. Quotes. The Master Quote concept popped up in the past several years. It’s a quote done for a specific job wherein multiple manufacturers’ products from the same rep company are on the same bid. In this instance the spec was done by a consultant. The rep firm then can publish a Master Quote so all bidders have the same consistent data.
  11. Documents. We provide your firm the necessary docs (applications, forms, etc) to make it all happen.
  12. Registration Pricing. Another new concept in the past years. Some manufacturers will offer a specifying dealer a special registration price for recommending a product. We reps can assist in administrating that process.
  13. Problem solving. Sometimes things can get difficult and downright ugly out there. We can handle issues ranging from freight, delivery, service, pricing and more.
For more info on using a rep firm, visit the Enright website.

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