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Manufacture Success: A Guide to Building and Supporting Distributor Partnerships

If you’re looking to really grow your building materials company in the coming year, then you definitely want to consider working with a distributor.

Why? Distributors act as sales agents for your business, finding ways and leveraging existing connections to get your products into the hands of retailers, who then ultimately sell directly to consumers.

Ready to learn more about how to gain and nurture distributor partnerships? Let’s get started.

What Are Distributor Partnerships?

Distributor partnerships are a sales process where your company manufactures an item and the distributor sells it to a retail store, who then sells it directly to the consumer. For example, having a distributor promote your particular brand of deck screw to a major home improvement chain would be considered a distributor partnership.

These incredibly lucrative deals are big for build materials companies looking to break into the market with a new product or those who simply want to achieve a wider range of sales for an existing item. By having the power of a distributor to leverage their contacts and work on your behalf, you can achieve more success in a shorter period of time.

How To Find (and Land) Distributor Deals

You’re probably thinking, where do I learn how to sell my product to distributors? Well, there are usually a few major ones in the building materials industry that you can start to build relationships with early to gain some traction. Once you’ve done this, then you can start seeking others to repeat the same process.

When first presenting your product line or a specific item to a distributor, be clear about the major concerns they care about. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Profitability: How much money can they make off a product after they present it to the retail store?
  • Stocking and Fulfillment: Is the product hard to stock and fulfill for retailers? Or is it small enough to fit inside of a cardboard box for general shipment?
  • Scalability: Can the product be scaled to a national or even global level?
  • Multiple Products: When promoting a brand, distributors like to know if there are multiple products or options available.

The more clear you can be about each of these categories when presenting the benefits of working with your brand, the more likely you’ll be able to land a contract with a well-known building products distributor.

How To Manage Distributors

Once you have multiple distributors, it is important to understand how to manage them most effectively. After all, you want the ordering and fulfillment process to go as smoothly as possible to ensure they don’t hesitate to push your product out to retailers.

Start by having a clear process for placing orders. If your business has switched to a warehouse management system that allows for specific barcodes that match your distributor’s inventory system, find out how to get copies of those labels so that you can integrate them into your logistics process.

Also, try to make orders as quickly as possible by offering a self-service option. In today’s busy world, giving your partner company the option to get what they need in a hurry is paramount.

Where possible, you can also opt to have a standing order that goes out at a specific time each month. Be clear about change request deadlines and give clear instructions on how to ensure that happens.

Finally, be ready to incorporate their guidelines into your workflow. Many major distributors have their own way of doing things. Since they’re essentially your customer, it is wise to try to alter your process to meet their requirements where necessary. Some aspects of these deals might not be that big of a change for your team to adapt, or it might even give you an idea of how to better do things in-house.

How To Support Your Distributor

After you’ve finally landed a contract, it is important to know a few things about dealing with distributors. While they will use their connections to the best of their ability to try to get your product into retail stores, there are certain tasks you can do to help add an extra layer of support.

For example, provide marketing and sales materials where pertinent. You can also add a section to your website that makes it simple for the consumer to find the nearest retail store that sells your product.

In fact, anything you can do to help bring attention to your brand that brings in more consumers to that specific retail establishment, the more you’re helping your distributor.

In addition, don’t be afraid to just ask what you can do to support their cause. After all, they make more money when your products sell out at retail stores. This partnership is good for both you as a building materials manufacturer and their bottom line.

Wrap Up: Distributor Partnerships for Growth in the Building Materials Industry

One of the fastest and best ways to grow your building materials company is to engage in distributor partnerships. While this guide just touches on the surface of how you can utilize this practice to increase sales this next year, we would love to talk to you about other ways you can make this happen.

At ER Marketing, we work with building materials manufacturers to improve brand recognition and grow their online presence. Please contact us today for further information.

About The Author

Elton Mayfield

Elton's career spans media, production, digital and building industry expertise. His diverse experience makes him nimble, innovative, and curious – always pushing the envelope to create extraordinary work that delivers real results for our clients.

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