This month’s question: In what ways can independent dealers add value to their service offering?


 "Product availability and good service are no longer real value-added aspects of a dealer’s business. They have become common practice for everyone. Independents must be focused on solving and supplying all their customers’ business needs, such as web/creative design services, print/document management and cleaning/breakroom supplies. If the capability to provide these non-traditional solutions is not available in-house, find a partner to co-operate with. Increasingly, end users want a single-source solution to their needs, one point of contact and one point of accountability.  So dealers must find new frontiers in which they can add value and satisfy an ever-demanding end user, while also protecting their core business and boosting their margins."
Ian Milligan, consultant

"In a market dominated by powerhouse dealers, the only way to establish yourself as an independent dealer is to strongly differentiate, to be creative and to be innovative. Reduce cost as much as possible in order to be a valid competitor, as surviving the battle against the business mastodons seems nearly impossible. A sensitive issue for the large companies is the fact that they tend to neglect important matters of customer awareness and often seem to drop their customer-orientated marketing strategy. This is where an independent dealer can step in and actually make a difference.  An aggressive yet human strategy of customer building and retention is the key in creating the much-needed customer/dealer interaction. Recruiting, training and retention of adequate sales and operations staff is also a key objective for independent dealers because they are, basically, the engine behind the actual sale. A combination of efficient sales force and good logistics can assure success, regardless of the commercial field we are approaching."
Stefan Ulea, marketing and communication manager, BeProffice


"Competitive prices, innovative marketing and state-of-the-art eCommerce and IT solutions are given requirements for any independent dealer wishing to be successful in today’s business supplies market. If any of these components are lacking, the dealership will ultimately fail. What really sets the dealer apart in providing an unbeatable offering is the personal commitment and enthusiasm that helps to motivate and inspire teams to constantly meet and exceed customer expectations. Owner-managers have this passion, multinational corporates do not."
Rick Needle, chief executive, Integra


Next month’s burning issue: Does sourcing from the Far East jeopardize the integrity of the OP industry?
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