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Dealer Locator Strategies to Improve Your Building Materials Sales & Relationships

The manufacturer and dealer relationship has been strained in the last couple of years. But if you listen to this week’s episode, you’ll wind up with a checklist for tackling this issue head-on: how to improve relationships with dealers, build a digital presence that supports those relationships and sell more effectively.

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Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov
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More About This Episode

The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

This week’s podcast features two special guests: Joshua Rich, the president and CEO of Bullseye Locations, and Brian Baker, a digital strategist and founder of DoDecaHedron. The pair help Zach and Beth answer the biggest questions in building materials, around dealer relationships and how a strong digital strategy can support them. There’s plenty of opportunity for good partnerships if you have the right resources.

The State of Dealer-Manufacturer Partnerships Today

Joshua Rich and Brian Baker have gotten an in-depth look at the challenges that manufacturers and dealers are up against today in the new world of eCommerce.

Bullseye supports manufacturers looking for tech support with their dealer relationships. “We've been building locator solutions for over 20 years. We started in 1998 and really worked in a variety of different industries. A lot of retail, a lot of franchise types of businesses, but recently, I'd say in the last four or five years, we've really started to focus on providing technology to support building materials manufacturers,” says Josh.

DoDecaHedron gives manufacturers support for digital solutions, as well. “That can be designing a digital product or piece of software … [or] how do they reach their customers in a given channel? How do they measure?” explains Brian.

We brought them on the podcast because we wanted to know what’s working for manufacturers today and in the future, as we look at 2022 and beyond. Brian jumped right into solutions.

“I know from the manufacturer’s side, a lot of people are trying to progress to eCommerce,” says Brian. “There's this huge fear of ‘are we going to disrupt our channel? Are we going to disrupt these relationships that we have?’ And I think, really, a smart thing for them to do is to take their dealer networks or their installer networks, and bring those forward inside their own digital properties.”

According to Brian, eCommerce gives manufacturers more opportunities for successful channel relationships than using Amazon or another online retailer. “If you are a manufacturer, there's nothing more valuable you can do for somebody who's selling your products for you than to create visibility for them and to drive business through them,” says Brian.

If your manufacturing company has a network of dealers or installers, you can start building better relationships by asking where they need support. “And I think that it really comes down to how visible they're going to make those partners on their website,” says Brian.

“And I see it a lot from the perspective of the manufacturer,” adds Josh, “Because I think they're looking at opportunities to leverage the contractors or dealers, and the locations, and get them more engaged in selling their products.”

The State of Dealer-Manufacturer Partnerships Today

Source: LG

Brands like LG are doing this with their partners who are authorized appliance dealers, to help guarantee a smooth, successful customer experience. If you’re a manufacturer who provides installation courses to contractors, you might also offer a certification that the contractor can use to promote their services and give that contractor more exposure on your website.

“We're seeing that with a lot of manufacturers,” says Brian. “And, of course, the challenge is how do you get all of your dealers to participate?”

If your dealers aren’t the most tech-savvy, it can be tough to get them to adopt digital practices. “I think, as a manufacturer, you need to look at it as, there's a transition here, and people are going to continue to adopt new technologies, and laying investment into that now,” says Brian.

“Won’t I Lose Leads?”

Manufacturers might experience pushback from dealers who are more skeptical about technology, and who might have concerns about losing their own website traffic or sales leads to other dealers in the network.

It takes legwork, clear communication with your dealer, and consistent marketing to the customer at every stage of the journey. “And that's really what you want to make sure that you're doing on the manufacturer's website is, you're creating a bias for your brand through your marketing efforts, or through your product's capabilities, and you need to make sure that you pass them all the way down the chain to somebody that's actually going to fulfill that,” says Brian.

He offers a few next steps to guarantee the success of that process. “Well, first of all, when somebody comes in and they fill out a lead contact form or they call a phone number that we're tracking, I want to package that lead up that you're going to hand off to the distributor or dealer,” says Brian.

That package should include a few bits of information:

  • Details about their project
  • If they’re responding to an offer or sale
  • Their location
  • Their contact information

The next step is sending that lead package to the right dealer, and manufacturers should be able to answer some questions about that partner. “Who is the person that supports you at a given branch? You want to know who that person is. That's who you want the leads to be going to, to someone that's going to be friendly,” says Brian.

Closing the loop with dealers this way can take some work, but it also pays off for manufacturers. “The dealer gets that lead and they know that, yes, somebody is requesting a specific manufacturer's product. And by being more involved in that handoff and that relationship, I think there's an opportunity for the manufacturer to influence the purchase,” says Joshua.

Checklist for Your Dealer Locator

Venveo works with manufacturers who need support with their dealer locator strategy, and if there’s one thing we get asked about frequently, it’s how to successfully set up this part of their marketing.

So how about a checklist? Joshua and Brian offered a few must-haves for dealer locators.

  1. Get Visual. “I think the first transition is you want things to be rich and visual. If you talk about here's a list of businesses names and addresses, but if you really want to create trust, it's here's actually a picture of the location. Here's a picture of their showroom. Here's a picture of the guy that I'm going to meet, and there they are. It really lets you know that somebody's home there, and they're alive on the other end of this connection,” says Brian.
  2. Give Them Options. “There doesn't tend to be a lot of options for filtering, or connecting people to the right dealer location for their situation. For example, if I'm looking for a roofing contractor, it's like, ‘Well, I need somebody that can also do gutters,’” says Brian.
  3. Get Accurate. “I'd say that the accuracy of the data is really critical,” says Joshua. “But if you have accurate hours, for example, when a contractor is available, when a dealer showroom is open. That's going to go a long way to developing customer trust and customer confidence.”
  4. Get Transparent. “Another big one really is, particularly now, because of the demand issues and/or supply issues, is the product in stock? Is there availability? Does this particular dealer carry the products that I'm looking for?” says Joshua.
  5. Get Actionable. Many manufacturers have a product catalog mindset when it comes to purchasing, so one of the best ways to transition to a dealer locator is to consider the customer’s path online. “One thing that's actually an easy fix for a lot of folks is, do we have clear calls to action on our website? For a manufacturer that's where to buy or get it installed, [and] if they have an installer network,” explains Joshua.

It’s a short but thorough list, and if there’s one thing we can all take away is how important (clear, accurate) communication really is. “The more you can provide accurate data and accurate information back to the customer, the more they're going to trust those, and feel like they're in a better relationship, as well,” says Joshua.

Want Even More Insight?

The way we work today is changing rapidly, but that’s why building the right partnerships is more important than ever for manufacturers. Find out more about how manufacturers can create more solid relationships by listening to the full episode.

You can connect with Joshua or Brian by clicking below:

[email protected]

Joshua Rich on LinkedIn

[email protected]

Brian Baker on LinkedIn

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