What I am Looking for from Vendor Partners
This paper discusses in 1,300 words, and four pages, how this relationship can be reevaluated, and reworked in ways that offer both manufacturer, and dispenser less administrative overhead, more sales opportunities, and more satisfied end users, by adapting three simple strategies.
Today’s ear level instrumentation is unlike any of years past. The gear offered by all major manufacturers, has capabilities far in excess of any envisioned when our industry began. The benefits of better hearing, and thus a better life overall, can be easily demonstrated within minutes, to any inquiring potential buyer.
Demonstrating the benefits of today’s instruments sells them. I think few would argue that the more often we demonstrate the benefits of today’s gear to those who might benefit, the more adapt it.
Clearly, if our goal is to improve the adaptation of amplification strategies beyond present estimated market penetration of twenty percent, we need to do more, rather than less to demonstrate the benefits of today’s products, to an ever wider market.
Facilitating demonstration of the available products to all potential users, should be the goal of both manufacture, and dispenser.
If, our goal is to help more people hear better, this should be our number one shared objective.
Demonstrating the benefits of amplification, means having adequate demonstration inventory on hand, at all times, to cover a wide range of amplification, and lifestyle needs, as the opportunity presents.
Traditionally this has meant that the dispenser ordered whatever inventory they thought would be needed during the month, and then returned what inventory remained unsold at the end of the month for credit.
While serving the purpose, this system also serves up exceptionally high administrative costs for both manufacture, and dispenser serving only poorly at assuring that the right product is available when needed.
Another method in use by several manufactures today is that of providing stock clearly marked as, ‘demo’ for the purpose of allowing product demonstrations.
While serving the purpose of demonstrating the benefits, instruments marked ‘Demo’, and not for sale present a barrier to an on the spot sale.
Even if, the consumer is wild about the results, they can’t have their gear then. They have to wait for the dispenser to order the one they want, and return at some point in the future, going through the fitting, and programming process all over again.
This system creates a duplication, and waste of time for both dispenser, and consumer, easily alleviated, by having the product that they wanted to buy, available when they want to buy it.
Traditionally, all products, whether sold, or for demonstration inventory, have been invoiced, as though they were sold, when shipped by the manufacture. This creates a debt balance for the demonstrating dispenser, due in whatever time period has been negotiated. Such a debt balance is not a problem for instruments that get sold, and collected during the balance grace periods, as the dispenser simply forwards their agreed cost on to their manufacturing partner.
Things don’t work so well, when time limits, or demonstrations run over the monthly accounting cycle, or the equipment gets returned by the consumer for whatever reason, within their legal trial period. When that happens, the administrative costs for such a supply system, escalate considerably for both parties.
Clearly inventory needs to be tracked, it’s status and whereabouts known, and accounted for at all times, for all concerned. The problem is, that the current systems in place to distribute, and track products, and sales, fails to accurately do so in a timely manner, without driving up administrative costs for all concerned considerably.
Clearly if the goal is actually more productive, and profitable manufacturer, and dispenser relations, a more efficient, and accurate way of facilitating product placement, demonstrations, and tracking of inventory needs to occur.
Gratefully, all of the parts needed to build a much more efficient system, are already available, the products, and protocols easily adaptable. All that is needed is the management will, to make it work.
Here is what needs to happen in three simple steps.
- Stop looking at a sale, as occurring when your product leaves your loading dock, unless that is actually the case (as in a custom product). Products placed for demonstration, are there for mutual potential benefit, not realized until a consumer actually agrees to pay for them.
- Stop treating your dispensers, and consumers like they aren’t smart enough to understand the concept of open platform technologies, and start using their economies to all our advantage. Three price points on a single platform is smart business. Making that programming load, and price designation at any level other than the consumer one, at the time and place it is needed, is a waste of every one’s resources, in favor of a marketing facade. Open platform allows for future up-selling, and profit potential, with no additional investment in inventory and the consumer already gets it.
- Utilize off the shelf, industry wide hardware, software, and online connectivity to track inventory location, and status. Sales, demonstrations, programming load, and price point at delivery, along with deactivations, when products are returned, can all be handled on line. Instead of requiring a paper credit return form, shipping, and handling on both ends, unsold demonstration stock can be easily disinfected, and returned to the shelf for the next opportunity. The location of inventory so consigned, can be easily verified by synchronizing a Quick Books inventory module, via email, and validated at anytime by a visit from your field rep.
As a dispenser, I am actively seeking manufacturer partners who are willing to reevaluate established systems, for ways of enhancing the experience provided not only the end consumer of their products, but to me, their customer, as well.
I am looking for partners that understand, that I am the one providing the shelf space, advertising, counselling, and product recommendations, to the potential consumers I attract to my door, as well as to my returning patients.
No matter how great your product is, if it isn’t available for demonstration, you won’t sell as many as if it were.
Billing me, regardless the generosity the terms, for products that I am demonstrating on your behalf, and are yet to be sold, provides no incentive and considerable disincentive.
Value of the products you offer decreases, as the administrative load required to administer your account increases. Accurate statements, timely, and accurate crediting of payments, and returns as well, as timely, efficient dispute resolution saves administrative time for everyone, and raises the value of any offering.
If, any manufacturer wants to place product in my store to be demonstrated to the public, they need to understand that our market has indeed evolved, and changed.
Refusing to innovate, and evolve your delivery system, in response to these paradigm shifts, will be met with a continuation of stagnation in growth, or even loss of market share. And, won’t win a spot on my shelves, regardless how great your product.
Innovation, in the delivery system, as well as product line is what is needed to reach more potential consumers. I welcome any manufacture who wishes to acknowledge the changes going on in our market, and profession, and is willing to meet them with innovation, and an actual partnership.
However, expecting me to demonstrate product on your behalf, with no skin in the game, and at no risk to yourself, is an idea, and model who’s time has come, and gone.