Expert Opinion: The Importance of Building Relationships Between Manufacturers and Retailers
If there’s one thing the Covid-19 pandemic has proven, it’s our need and desire for tangible, authentic relationships. Lockdown saw us come together from afar to celebrate our key workers, rally round and support our neighbours and local community and, as restrictions began to ease, support local business on the high street and online.
In business, the need for closeness is exactly the same. After all, people deal with people. It has always been such a vital aspect of strong business infrastructure and one to which we at Bushboard have attributed much of our success within the KBB sector. But the challenges that have impacted all of us over the course of this year have brough the individuals behind the brands, suppliers, retailers and installers to the fore.
Nick Jones, Sales Leader UK at Bushboard, shares his thoughts.
Firms up and down the UK, in the KBB sector and beyond, will be spurred on to adjust their sales and customer relations strategies in the wake of the pandemic. We’ve become more in tune than ever with our won need as consumers, business people and humans, and will want to reflect on our own wants and desires in our approach with our customers and partners going forward. This will likely mean that relationships between manufacturers and retailers will take on a new identity – opting for closer and more regular contact using a wider range of methods – phone, email and video.
Building stronger relationships with retailer partners can be forged by aligning sales teams to selling channels, in order to gain a closer understanding of a specific marketplace and really begin to speak their language. This gives the retailer a hotline into the manufacturer – that direct point of contact that retailers crave. It is the perfect strategy for mutual learning that can help to breed positive growth in sales performance, business relations and internal business practices.
Strengthening relationships with external partners usually needs to start with a closer look at how colleagues are communicating internally. At Bushboard, we are making use of conference calls and digital project management systems to keep in regular contact with our colleagues in an attempt to bridge the gap caused by not by physically being in an office setting. With so many now working at home, internal lines of communication will undoubtedly have altered. Are these effective? What lessons will teams take from remote working an adopt in a new way of operating going forward?
The ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic requires manufacturers and retailers to present a united front, working together to push through this period of economic instability.
Manufacturers need to be the backbone for retailers, providing the support they need now that they are open for business again. Bushboard’s Restart Together Club initiative ran through the summer months following the first easing of restrictions for shops and was met with such enormous success that the initiative has evolved into a permanent digital resource centre for our retail partners.
Alongside image libraries designed for use on digital channels and e-brochures to promote essential contract-free marketing support to retailers’ customers, the Restart Together support initiative also facilitated easy upgrades and orders for new showroom stands and samples, with full size worktop displays offered free of charge.
Going forward, it’s imperative that manufacturers remain forward-thinking, equipping retailers with essential resources to support them as together, we navigate a new of communicating and selling.
Invest Time in People
Investment might seem like a luxury at this time, however investing time in people will pay dividends in the long run. And this relates to employees, colleagues, customers and other key stakeholders.
Whether it’s playing to the strengths of your existing team to reallocate roles in customer-facing positions, or growing your team if circumstances allow, creating dedicated specialist channel-led support roles highlights a level of unwavering commitment to retailers that will boost the customer experience.
Pick up the phone to a customer and ask how they’re doing, with no intention to sell. You will get honest feedback that will pave the way for strong working relationships that can help take your business to the next level.