Foodservice Equipment Reports

PICKING CHANNEL TEAMMATES

Some years ago, at one of the big association meetings—might’ve been FEDA, or maybe NAFEM—one of the speakers made a really salient point about manufacturer competition. “We used to say my equipment competes with your equipment,” or something to that effect, the speaker said. “Now, we say my channel competes with your channel.”

That’s a good point, and worth thinking about because the operator perceives a continuum from the factory all the way to the operator’s street address. The sum-total experience is not just about the equipment. It’s about the dealer, the delivery, set-up, installation, ongoing maintenance and repair, the whole blurry shebang. If anybody at any point drops the ball, the whole experience gets tainted, and it’s easy for the operator to paint everyone—emphasize everyone--with the same broad, unhappy brush.

This notion came up again last month in several informal conversations at the Commercial Food Equipment Service Association’s fall meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. The idea that the end-user perceives the factory, the dealer and the repair experiences as one continuum is always a topic at CFESA, in fact, either explicitly or implicitly. If a piece of equipment is a lemon, it makes the dealer and the servicer look bad. If the dealer experience is disappointing, the negativity sticks to the equipment brand too. And if the service isn’t right, it makes the equipment look bad.

So how many dealers are approaching the market not as a dealer market, but as a channel market? You’re looking for differentiation, right? Apart from pricing and discounts and rebates and delivery time, how many of you measure your factories by their training support, sales consulting, etc.? How do you gauge their ability to help you do a better job for everyone?  In short, how are you picking your factory partners?

And here’s another thought: How many of you have considered marketing partnerships of some sort with strong servicers in your area? It’s easier said than done, sure. But could a strong dealer benefit from an alliance with a strong servicer, and vice versa? It seems like there ought to be some potential synergy there. Service agents, for example, are usually the first to know, and first to be consulted, when a piece of equipment needs replacement. And it seems like a dealer with a good rep would reflect well on a good servicer.

If you’re looking for advantages, it seems like good partners would be a good place to start.



Chief Editor
bward@fermag.com