As Lowe’s and Home Depot compete with each other, they are constantly changing in an effort to improve their business. Some things they try work and some don’t, but they continue to evolve.
Here’s an example from the Charlotte News Observer that reports Lowe’s plans to cut back on the width of their inventory and to go deeper with fewer items to avoid out of stocks. They also plan to add more store employees.
You can either wait for the buyer to tell which of your products he’s no longer going to keep in stock or you can be proactive. Before he even asks, you should be presenting him a recommendation as to which products to stock and why. If you don’t he will do it himself and you may not like his decisions.
You should also look at how to keep and improve a special order program.
Adding more people will also mean changes. The first thing that comes to mind is the need for more training. Think about what does more store employees mean to your product category and take the buyer some ideas.
I am always amazed at how big box account managers aren’t aware of these changes and proactively taking steps to better meet the needs of their big box customers. In my experience, they wait for the buyer to tell them what is changing and then they react to the change.
If you are a big box account manager for a building material supplier, you should keep yourself informed about your customer.
1. What are their latest financial results?
2. What statements has the CEO made about the company and changes he is planning to implement?
3. Where and how many stores do they plan to open?
4. Are they experimenting with new store formats or services?
5. Are they in the news for anything good or bad?
It’s easy to obtain this information
1. Read their annual report
2. Read what the CEO said when they report quarterly results to Wall Street
3. Sign up for Google alerts and get daily reports of any news stories.
Even if the buyer doesn’t agree with your recommendations, he will appreciate the effort. He will also notice that you are doing your homework and take his business seriously. You will stand out from all the order takers.
Whizard Strategy solves tough sales and marketing problems for the building materials industry. Contact us to discuss your problems.