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Distributor's Link Magazine Summer 2018 / Vol 41 No3


102 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK LAURENCE CLAUS THREE THINGS THAT DISTRIBUTORS MUST DO WELL - PART 1 from page 24 Entrepreneurial It is usually pretty easy to tell when you are dealing with the owner of a store or a company that provides a service you want. They are energized to make the sale and usually bend over backwards to consummate a deal with you. This is in sharp contrast with the individual who feels their only vested interest in the business is to receive a paycheck every other Friday. You know this person, any hint of an abnormal transaction and this individual finds all sorts of “reasons” why they can’t make the sale to you. I guarantee that it is the rare occasion that the owner of any business willingly lets an individual intent to give them their money walk away over small or trivial barriers. I recall a recent experience that illustrates this point. In recent years I have taken up sporting clays, a shotgun shooting sport that is sort of a mix between golf and trap shooting. As difficult as it may be to hold a conversation while actually shooting, I view this as a social opportunity and rarely ever shoot alone. My wife caught onto this and expressed an interest in joining me, but only if we could find her a gun that wasn’t too heavy or had so much recoil that it quickly fatigued her. I, therefore, started searching for a shotgun that would meet her requirements and soon came across one at a big box sports chain that I felt would do the trick. The nearest store is only a few minutes from my home, so I went down to see if I could take a look. Unfortunately they did not have one in stock but told me another location in the area that did and that I could look at it there, and, if interested, they could order one for me. I drove the 45 minutes to the other store, took a look, and decided to go ahead and purchase it. On that particular evening the state’s background check registration site was inoperable and I could not complete the sale at this store. I wasn’t upset, as I had now seen the gun and decided it would work, so that I would just go back to my local store and have them order it. Now this is where the story gets complicated, and in the interest of time, let’s just fast forward and say that placing an order proved impossible. At this point I inquired whether it was possible to transfer the gun I had viewed from their other store. I was told that it was not possible. Apparently every time they transferred a firearm, it seemingly got poached somewhere along the way and all they ended up with was an empty box. Although this regrettably sounded all too plausible in today’s day and age, I could think of multiple ways to reduce the possibility of this happening. My story would probably have ended there, with no purchase made, and me extremely frustrated, save for the store manager. He happened to be walking by as the sales clerk and I were discussing this dilemma. He went in the back, presumably made a phone call, and returned to tell me that the manager of the other store would be coming up to this store in a couple of days and would bring it with them. Simple solution and problem solved. However, it took someone thinking like an owner and not wanting to lose a customer to enact a simple, elegant, and acceptable solution. The lesson that one can take away from this is to train and encourage your team to think like owners. If someone is willing to pay you for your product or services, you find a way to make it happen. Empowerment Going along with entrepreneurial spirit is empowerment. Individuals must be empowered to make a difference. In fact, you will never get your team thinking like owners if they are not empowered. This means that they don’t have to ask the boss on every decision they make. It also means that the organization must allow them some freedom to make decisions to spend money to solve problems. This doesn’t mean that the organization should not enact spending limits and boundaries of what an individual can and cannot do. To provide good customer service and resolve customer problems, those working with the customer must be empowered and have the authority to make decisions, often that have costs associated with them. For fastener distributors, this is likely going to include the ability to approve returns and authorize expedited shipping of replacement parts. One of my most frustrating and worst personal stories of poor customer service has to do with this point. A couple of years ago, I added satellite TV service to our home internet and phone service, during a special advertised “bundle” opportunity. Our phone and internet provider did not own the satellite TV service they were offering to bundle. This service was provided by a nonowned but affiliated company. CONTINUED ON PAGE 164

J.W. Winco, Inc., A Ganter Company, a leading supplier of standard industrial machine components, announced the availability of a New Stainless Steel Product Overview Catalog. Corrosion resistance has become an ever more important requirement in a variety of different areas that include the food sector, packaging, pharmaceutical, medical, and marine industries. JW Winco’s Stainless Steel Product Overview Catalog gives customers an easy solution to find the ideal machine part needed for any corrosion resistance application. JW Winco offers an extensive selection of inch and metric size adjustable levers, cabinet U-handles, plastic and steel hinges and locking mechanisms, revolving and retractable handles, hand wheels, hand cranks, tube connection and conveyor components, inch and metric construction tubing, shock absorption mounts, leveling mounts, hand knobs, spring, ball and indexing plungers, jig, fixture and fastening components, retaining magnet assemblies, toggle clamps, metric casters and wheels, universal joints, oil sight glasses, and metric tools for the industrial and commercial equipment industries. JW Winco, which is ISO 9001:2008 certified, is located in New Berlin, WI, with locations in Canada and Mexico. For more information, contact J.W. Winco at 1-800-877-8351, by fax at 1-800-472-0670 or via e-mail at or online at THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK 103


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