The professional relationships between a supplier of lumber building materials and their distributors often require a bit of finesse. Much like any traditional employee of a locally owned business, distributors sometimes need a little guidance and support from the “boss” to maximize their true earning potential. On the other hand, many distributors can often place extremely high demands on the supplier, acting more like customers than employees. When suppliers fail to meet these demands, the relationship suffers.
The Marketing Partnership
Many suppliers of lumber building materials have large numbers of distributors located in individual local markets all over the country or perhaps even the world. Meanwhile, each distributor has their own way of conducting business with their own local customer base. Since the supplier cannot micro-manage the day-to-day operations of each distributor, the most successful suppliers tend to develop a marketing partnership with distributors that combines traits of both employee and customer.
Point of Contact
Believe it or not, the distributor in the building industry has many of the same problems as suppliers. Distributors tend to work on another type of marketing partnership team, teams that consists of the distributor, the Purchasing Manager, and the Sales Department or Management Team of individual construction companies. The supplier is essentially relying on the distributors’ numerous professional relationships to make money. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a single local distributor to be the sole point of contact for the supplier’s lumber building materials for an entire region that might extend across several counties or states.
The Distributor’s Role
Distributors are not only marketing to contractors of local building and construction companies, they are also maintaining strong relationships with the Purchasing Managers of these companies, as well. All too often, it is the Purchasing Manager who makes the final decision on which brand of product to buy. When problems occur in the field, Construction Managers need immediate solutions.
In many cases, construction managers simply don’t have the time to shop around for a specific product. As a result, they will often simply call the Purchasing Manager with the urgent instructions, “I need a solution! ANY solution! And I need it FAST! Any Ideas?” Who does the Project Manager call? They tend to call only those distributors of lumber building materials with the best reputations for speed-of-light delivery and a constantly stocked warehouse.
Suppliers need to develop and implement marketing tactics that target each of these key players in the construction game. By successfully combining both online and offline strategies seamlessly, suppliers manage their distributors by creating a marketing “funnel” that continuously targets the right person with the perfect message during any phase of the construction project. In doing so, the supplier develops a marketing partnership with distributors, one that offers the employee support of marketing assistance and the excellent customer service of increased efficiency and reliability.
Because each distributor is different, many suppliers have trouble walking this fine line between “employee” and “customer.” By focusing on stronger and more effective marketing strategies that help the distributor target vast audiences of potential local customers, suppliers can create and maintain relationships with distributors that are beneficial to both parties.