It’s all about Trust and having a Strong Contract
By Lee Baker
I thought for my first blog, that I would talk about Trust and the importance of a strong relationship and contract with your suppliers. The Pro-AV business, like many others is built on Trust. For sure brands need to have a strong product range and compelling reasons for you to deal with them, but more than anything you have to have Trust in not only the product, but the people you are working with to achieve long term success.
At Midwich, we were in a good position to work with brands and we had built up a very strong reputation for delivering sales for quality products. However, there were some brands who, unfortunately, did not always deliver what they promised, or indeed made drastic changes to their strategies without considering all the implications.
The UK and Ireland are very competitive markets, as indeed are many other markets globally. Therefore, to stay strong and survive you need a powerful proposition. One of my key considerations as Commercial Director at Midwich was what does any new brand or product line bring with them and what was their long-term plan? Once you have weighed up whether the product range is right for you, the list of other considerations is significant. How sought after is the brand, what ongoing margin and support can they offer? Do they have enough stock to service your needs ongoing and of course how ‘exclusive’ will the distribution policy be? No point taking a brand as a distributor if the brand is already working directly with your key customers, unless they do so in a way that strengthens your own business.
The beauty of being a distributor who has a stable of top-quality brands, is that you can make it easy for people to buy product from you. At Midwich I concentrated on ensuring we had the best brands at a competitive price, but essentially that we were always in stock of them and so forecasting and the ability to deliver when needed is critical to your customers and their trust in you. You simply can’t afford to promote a product that becomes unavailable when you need it or that your customer can buy significantly cheaper direct or off someone else.
The other thing to consider is the reliability and service levels of the brand. Selling a high margin product is great. However, if products fail, then the costs to your reputation, and indeed the financial costs, can be huge, especially if the product has already been installed or deployed. At Midwich I would always concentrate on that area in any discussions or contract with our suppliers.
And that leads me on to contracts… Whilst dealing with people and having trust is important, so is having a strong but fair contract for both parties. Sometimes brands make changes because someone new comes in at a top level and decides to make sweeping changes to show their impact, sometimes brands make changes because they have to. Having a strong contract means that you can protect yourself if ever you need to. You always hope that you don’t need to, and indeed very rarely did we ever have to enforce a contract at Midwich. We usually resolved any disputes by mutual consent. However, if ever we couldn’t, it was always good to know that you had the paperwork behind you that would allow you to resolve any dispute.
In summary - Always spend time doing your research on a brands previous behaviour and employ a good quality law firm to cover your key requirements, as you never know when this might come in handy.
If anyone reading this ever needs any strategic advice, then feel free to reach out to Gordon, Ian or I at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to assist.
Here’s what our Industry Colleagues say about us...
Peerless-AV would like to pay tribute to the incredible work Gordon and his team have done since 2009. It’s sales and brand awareness since we launched Peerless-AV EMEA in 2009 has been massive. Gordon’s strategic leadership and incredible work ethic, along with the dynamic leadership of a best-in-class team, which he assembled, has led Peerless-AV to the forefront of the AV businesses.
Global President & CEO of Peerless-AV