What's the one thing manufacturers could do to make retailers’ lives easier?

We decided to put this question to John Payne, Managing Director of Kent Mobility and Chris Cox, Managing Director of Cinque Ports Mobility, to find out what it is they would like to see from manufacturers in order to make their lives easier.

With John having over 30 years’ experience and Chris being fresh to the industry having recently become a company director at Cinque Ports Mobility 6 months ago, at the age of 27, both were able to offer unique perspectives on the industry and issues they face.

An issue that was quickly identified was spare parts, with John plainly stating to "supply the spares on time and accurately so we can get them out to our customers." The major topic identified, however, where small changes could significantly help dealers and end-users, was marketing support.

Chris explained: "I’ve noticed some major manufacturers seem to almost have a scattergun approach as to who they list on their website as a local dealer. Some manufacturers will have a local dealer search engine, yet when a postcode is entered, it will show some dealers and not others. On other websites, local dealers are absent altogether.

"People who want our services quite often do not want to be hopping on a train or driving 10 miles, so pointing consumers to their local dealers is a relatively small and simple thing that can be done which would help both us and customers.”

The two retailers also reviewed the quality of information provided by some marketing material and its effectiveness to help promote products and inform consumers.

"Point of sale material is important,” said Chris. "There seems to be a broad spectrum when it comes to the quality of the materials we receive. Some of it is really good and detailed, with advice for the customers on batteries, maintenance, insurance, and key product stats, alongside information for the retailers such as fault codes and upgradeable options. Some, however, will send out an A4, single-sided black and white piece of paper with minimal details. I don’t know whether that is because we haven’t asked for it but I would have thought with each product launch would have come with the materials and information that helps us to sell it.”

John added: "For manufacturers that don’t provide a lot of details on a product, it actually gives the impression that they are not certain of their product. Maybe the product hasn’t been tested properly or doesn’t do what they claim it will do. The knock-on effect is it makes us less likely to show and recommend it to our customers.”

In addition to the information provided on the materials, the directors also raised concerns about claims made in advertising that can be unsubstantiated or misleading.

Consistency in the information provided was also mentioned, with Chris speaking about a recent example he came across where a lack of consistency could have a real impact on both his customer and his business.

"I was doing some homework on a large manufacturer and found that the warranty on the sheet given to a customer was one year different to what it says on the company’s website. The website then directs people to my company.

"A discrepancy between one or two years is pretty big and someone is miss-selling somewhere. What do I say to my customer? It is little discrepancies like that which can lead to problems.”

John also touched on the access to marketing materials, suggesting that a growing trend is for materials and forms to be sent and made available digitally, with the costs being passed onto retailers to print it.

"Ultimately, manufacturers could make my life easier by helping make it easier for my customers to understand their products,” summarised Chris.

"You would think they would be eager to make it easier for us to sell their products,” added John. "At the end of the day, all we want to do is sell quality, reliable products that meet our customers’ needs and don’t need repairing ever week.”

Now you have read Chris and John’s thoughts, do you have some thoughts of your own that you would like to share? If so, email calvin@thiis.co.uk to have your opinions featured in future issues.

To find out more about Kent Mobility, visit the company’s website at www.kentmobility.co.uk and to find out more about Cinque Ports Mobility, visit the company’s website at www.cinqueportsmobility.com