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View Full Version : Distributors – Regional-based vs. Online


steveparrott
03-25-2006, 02:28 PM
Our company only supplies regional-based distributors, never online retailers. The reason we do this is because we see that the regional distributor adds considerable value to the contractor in terms of training, sales support and on-the-ground technical support. We feel that online retailers can only offer a slight price advantage at the expense of real customer support.

I'm posting this here because I'd like to hear whether or not you experience the value of regional distributors. In other words, how important is in-person support and a local presence to draw upon?

Travisty
03-25-2006, 03:34 PM
We have had a remarkable amount of help from our distributor. Since we just started out he has actually even walked jobs with us and helped us with our designs. I can't say enough about how much help he has been with product lines and help starting our business. Our distributor has even been so helpful as to let us borrow his demo kit for our first jobs.

Travis Schiffner
ShadowScapes

NightScenes
03-25-2006, 03:47 PM
Right now I only use 2 distributors. Longhorn irrigation supply here in Texas and Terradek in Minnesota. Sometimes I need to use the larger distributor (Terradek) because of selection. Both of these distributors are members of the LVLIA and are very knowledgeable about the industry.

Pro-Scapes
03-25-2006, 07:38 PM
I met the owner of my distribution company Chuck link just the other day. He is full of knowledge and very willing to share. We are having dinner Tuesday night and will discuss marketing and design as we are just starting up in lighting.

Its benificial to both of us. The more I learn the more I make the more I make the more he makes. Having a seasoned person like that a phone call or email away is priceless. I can order online from him as well so no worries. I like having product 30 min away and being able to pick it up as needed. Keeps my costs down as I dont need to overly stock things and technical support is 2nd to none.

You can keep them online distributors. Customer service is alive and well with chuck link and florida/southern outdoor lighting distributors. If your distributors are giving you hassels I suggest you get with him. No pressure to buy in bulk and no headaches if you need to make a return.

NightScenes
03-25-2006, 09:14 PM
I met the owner of my distribution company Chuck link just the other day. He is full of knowledge and very willing to share. We are having dinner Tuesday night and will discuss marketing and design as we are just starting up in lighting.

Its benificial to both of us. The more I learn the more I make the more I make the more he makes. Having a seasoned person like that a phone call or email away is priceless. I can order online from him as well so no worries. I like having product 30 min away and being able to pick it up as needed. Keeps my costs down as I dont need to overly stock things and technical support is 2nd to none.

You can keep them online distributors. Customer service is alive and well with chuck link and florida/southern outdoor lighting distributors. If your distributors are giving you hassels I suggest you get with him. No pressure to buy in bulk and no headaches if you need to make a return.

Southern Outdoor Lighting Distributors (Chuck Link) are also LVLIA members. He knows is stuff!! These are the kind of guys that you want to do business with.

Pro-Scapes
03-26-2006, 01:12 AM
Southern Outdoor Lighting Distributors (Chuck Link) are also LVLIA members. He knows is stuff!! These are the kind of guys that you want to do business with.

I plan to :) the more the better lol.

Dreams To Designs
03-26-2006, 07:27 AM
I believe service is the real issue, followed by product availability then pricing. If you have no service, it doesn't matter how cheap you can get the product if there is no one to assist or back up the product they sell. We are all in the service business and charge accordingly for that high level of knowledge and service. If it weren't for the distributors and manufacturers representatives i would have a very difficult time doing all the work I am able to accomplish.

Kirk

Frog Lights, LLC
03-27-2006, 11:56 AM
Our company is establishing regional distribution. It is our goal to provide quality merchandise at a price that will put the profit back in "your" pocket. We are not in a position to handle on line distribution for very small orders.

SamIV
03-28-2006, 07:46 PM
I feel I would be doing my distributor a disservice if I would buy online. Price alone does not make a distributor. The service he has given me and advice especially in marketing, no online distributor could match. I am truly endeared to his business and he to mine. If you are buying online just to save a buck, you probably are not charging enough. By the way, I use the same distrbutor as Pro - Scapes.

Sam IV

Pro-Scapes
03-29-2006, 12:18 AM
I feel I would be doing my distributor a disservice if I would buy online. Price alone does not make a distributor. The service he has given me and advice especially in marketing, no online distributor could match. I am truly endeared to his business and he to mine. If you are buying online just to save a buck, you probably are not charging enough. By the way, I use the same distrbutor as Pro - Scapes.

Sam IV

Burt sorry you had to miss a nice dinner. Full of great info. I had my lovley wife and our partner with us and we had a great time. Now thats dedication. If your customers appreciate your dedication to them why shouldnt you appreciate it right back. We are all confident this is going no where but the top.

MMEC
03-29-2006, 08:37 PM
On the other hand we are all consumers. Lets say a small/part time contractor spends 25K per year at a supply shop. If someone could save 10-15% by going with the best price they could save say 3,125 per yr. and could use that to buy the wifey something nice or a new piece of equipment. Or you could put that savings into buying more product. With new housing down I am looking to be lean and mean. If that means bypassing Joe at the counter who cracks a joke once a week and replaces a malfunctioning transformer once a year to save X amount of dollars then so be it. Whats worse? Leaving money on the table at a customers house or leaving money on the table at the supply house. They both are not good business practices. I know I will take some backlash from this comment. But seriously leaving money on the table or counter?? Why should I. My opinion, for what it is worth.

NightScenes
03-29-2006, 09:48 PM
On the other hand we are all consumers. Lets say a small/part time contractor spends 25K per year at a supply shop. If someone could save 10-15% by going with the best price they could save say 3,125 per yr. and could use that to buy the wifey something nice or a new piece of equipment. Or you could put that savings into buying more product. With new housing down I am looking to be lean and mean. If that means bypassing Joe at the counter who cracks a joke once a week and replaces a malfunctioning transformer once a year to save X amount of dollars then so be it. Whats worse? Leaving money on the table at a customers house or leaving money on the table at the supply house. They both are not good business practices. I know I will take some backlash from this comment. But seriously leaving money on the table or counter?? Why should I. My opinion, for what it is worth.

Today I was at a clients home to perform my spring maintenance on their system. I found that the photo control was not working. I called my local distributor and told him that I was out of photo controls and could he please bring me 6 of them right away. I had a meeting with the general manager of this exclusive housing development in a few minutes and could they just put the photo cells in the back of my truck. While I was in my meeting, they delivered those photo cells. I drove back to the home and replaced the bad photo cell. These people, who were renting this home while their new $2million home is being built, told me that they would most definitely be using me to accent their new home.

Can you get that from an online warehouse? You just can't get service like that online.

klkanders
03-30-2006, 12:47 AM
Paul
I would say today you just put a big chunk of future money on your table along with your supplier's table. You went the extra mile for your customer as did your supplier. Whats it going to get both of you? (More business and more money) Its sad that good old fashioned customer service is neglected alot these days. Hav'nt we all seen the credit card commercials where a guy has to jump thru so many hoops just to get to talk to a warm body? Its so true!
Anyway
Way to go Paul! A guy doesnt need to advertise when you have good customer service like that!

MMEC
03-30-2006, 06:38 AM
Today I was at a clients home to perform my spring maintenance on their system. I found that the photo control was not working. I called my local distributor and told him that I was out of photo controls and could he please bring me 6 of them right away. I had a meeting with the general manager of this exclusive housing development in a few minutes and could they just put the photo cells in the back of my truck. While I was in my meeting, they delivered those photo cells. I drove back to the home and replaced the bad photo cell. These people, who were renting this home while their new $2million home is being built, told me that they would most definitely be using me to accent their new home.

Can you get that from an online warehouse? You just can't get service like that online.

Paul,

That is excellent service. That is also service that I will never see from any of the supply shops in my area.

SamIV
03-30-2006, 06:44 AM
MMEC, maybe your way is how you feel comfortable doing business. You have the right to choose who you buy from and if your not comfortable with your local distributor, that's your choice. Or maybe you just need to find a better distributor with the right products.

Sam IV

MMEC
03-30-2006, 07:31 AM
sam,

if you read my first post on this thread most of your statements with the exception of finding new distributors will be answered. As for the part of finding a new distributor, your answer lies in the question. Thats just it there would have to be a new distributor that would have to come into town and open up. Hope everyone is starting to get busy.

eskerlite
04-08-2006, 10:34 AM
I find I need a local Distributor and a Remote distributor. My local distributor has quantity and selection at my fingertips. BUT, when they are out of my favorite fixture I need to get it asap. Thats when I make a call to my Remote Distributor. He is knowlegable and has been selling LV Lighting for a long time. He educates and networks with many Contractors.My local distributor doesnt have a clue about lighting. They have gone through 10 lighting managers in their business in the last 5 years. I have to tell them whats up. My remote Distributor has a higher level of service and education and lower prices. He is 60 dollars less a roll of 10-2 500' shipped.. Its not what you make on the job its what you keep! Both are helpful and needed by me.:usflag: