Dealers and Their Strategic Partners

Industry Disruption Part IV

They say that no man or woman is an island and that certainly applies to businesses too. The dynamics that go into building a successful company and brand have the fingerprints of many other organizations planted firmly on productivity, profitability, and the customer’s experience to name a few. They are so intertwined that if one fails, the dominoes start to fall in all kinds of directions.

We are just going to focus on product suppliers this go around but the ecosystem goes much deeper than that. To be fair, we must keep in mind that these suppliers are a reflection of their customers’ tech level and business aptitude. Please don’t see this as a slight. I am merely pointing out that an industry that is as fragmented as ours just gives us more visibility into what we already know. If you are only exposed to a couple of French lessons, you can’t be expected to speak fluently when the time comes. In fact, business owners ought to embrace the idea with the understanding of how much upside opportunity there is out there. Just grab that golden technology ring to pull you forward!

It’s not just on the systems side for manufacturers, but also marketing, training, customer resolution, etc. We all know that the Dealer’s Strategic Partners can and will impact how well they operate and service their customers. Let’s look at how a certain chain of events can unfold during a customer’s journey for dramatic purposes. (And there is nothing better than a little drama in a blog!)

Say that a base corner cabinet is delivered and it’s damaged. Yikes! Now we know that the project is going to have major delays, which the customer is none too happy about. Just for fun, let’s say that in a rush, the replacement gets sent but the paint color somehow doesn’t match the other cabinets. Ever been in a situation where Pandora’s Box got opened and then started spewing bad karma in every direction? But it’s not over…. next comes the kiss of death for a business and the dealer wasn’t even the culprit of the issues. Now you have a customer that will most likely not recommend you and even worse, take their disappointment to the internet for all to see…. Too many of those kisses and see ya later.

I guess the point that I have been crawling towards is this; as things get more competitive and they will, you better have made the right decisions when choosing your partners. The winners in the future will be the ones that have the best teams, in terms of the other businesses they work with.

So, what should you be asking your prospective partners? (Keep in mind that every business has different strategies and goals so the questions should align with what those are)

  1. How do you plan to grow in the future?
  2. What do you have in place that will help me grow?
  3. How do you plan on leveraging technology to help us be more successful?
  4. What is your damage and defect rate? One percent or higher?
  5. What’s the turnover been in your plant? (that’s a good one that speaks volumes!) 😊
  6. How do you currently communicate with your customers? Is it old and dusty or cutting edge?
  7. What’s the last big thing that you did that was suggested by a customer? (Not door styles)


These are just a few examples you should consider. Don’t get me wrong, price and product matter, but they don’t mean much if the manufacturer can’t deliver. Plus, it’s a big investment on the dealer’s side to take on a new cabinet line. You pick the wrong one and that choice can become very expensive.

There is a lot to take on for a dealer nowadays, which is why I suggest you find help. Whether it’s a buying group, peer networking, consulting, or whatever. You need to figure out the best teams of people to surround yourself with. You know how one bar goes up and the rest follows.

News Flash– Our industry is going to continue to slow down until at least next summer…. Just my thoughts but better to be safe than sorry. Take action!

Now go out and get curious and be bold!! thad

PS Talk about an awesome partner! Tidy Squares Closet Systems has an AI Design program that will blow you away! Check them out in this blog and see what amazing things they are doing.