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Publisher's Viewpoint - Robin Ashton

Publisher's Viewpoint - Robin AshtonFounding partner Robin Ashton, president and publisher, is a true industry veteran in spite of is boyish appearance, he's covered foodservice since 1978, and E&S exclusively since 1982, as an editor and publisher at several magazines.


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Why A Dealer Ranking?

December 01, 2010

In June 2011, Foodservice Equipment Reports will publish its first ranking of the industry’s largest equipment and supplies dealerships. You may ask why, or ask why it has taken us so long. After all, next year will be our 15th year of publishing FER.

Second question first: While it’s true we have always sent the magazine to virtually every dealership in the country, most of our circulation—about 75%--is multiunit operators, both commercial and noncommercial. So, doing a dealer ranking, especially when other publishers already do directories and rankings, seemed a little beside the point and even redundant.

A more important reason we’ve passed on a dealer ranking up to now is that getting unfudged, solid data is tricky. Nearly all dealerships are private businesses, and no one likes to look bad in print.

On the other hand, a credible dealer ranking is useful in many ways to many folks. You operators we checked with said you’d find a credible ranking helpful; the universal response: “absolutely.” In addition to the numbers, operators said they want to know what services are offered, the geographic range, any niche specialties.

Plus a credible ranking also helps us identify trends and benchmark themselves. (We know this because for half a decade, we’ve maintained a ranking of E&S manufacturers with the help of our forecasting partner, John Muldowney. We don’t publish that list, but we do sell it.)

So, after weighing pros and cons, we’ve decided to do a dealer ranking, but the ranked dealers will have to verify their volumes. It’s not that hard. A letter from an accountant verifying the numbers will do it. Certified public accountants ethically must tell the truth when their name is attached.

Of course, some dealers might choose not to participate. That’ll be all right. If we know a dealer’s big enough to qualify, (and we only plan to go 50 deep), we’ll estimate its volume, but list it over on the side. To be officially ranked, volume will be verified and signed for.

Not that size is everything. It’s not. So while we plan to rank only the top 50 dealers, and that ranking will appear in the magazine, we will also list online the volumes of any dealer that verifies its volume, and we’ll detail its service offerings as well. We also will separate and categorize certain types of dealers and distributors, as well as detail the product mix of all participating distributors. Broadliners do move a lot of supplies and some equipment, but have a different service model. Bid houses can have wild swings in revenue depending on a given year’s project list. All this will give operators a broad array of information with which to make informed decisions about their distribution partners. And that benefit—information for an informed purchase decision—is exactly what we do.

Don’t hesitate to call or write me, if you have any questions. And we look forward to working on this project together.

Cheers,


Robin Ashton

Robin Ashton

Publisher

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