Distributors are the companies or individuals that you use in order to get your inventory to your clients. They are designed specifically around the logistics of getting your materials to the people who have ordered your products or services. Your suppliers may even be distributors for other companies. These people and companies have a responsibility to you to make sure that your customers get what they have ordered within the agreed upon time frame. The question becomes how exactly should you treat these companies and individuals.
Employees Or Customers
Distributors may seem like they are your employees, in a sense, as you are paying them to provide a service for your company. On the other hand, your distributors, like your customers, have their own lists of demands. These demands must be met in order for these distributors to do anything for you.
If you are a small business, your distributor may simply be the post office, yet even the post office has its own set of demands regarding what and how you must ship certain objects. If you’re shipping lotions, for example, you must declare the lotions and follow specific protocols in order to ensure that they are shipped properly. Any liquid must be declared, as must anything flammable. The list goes on and on.
Are they working for you? Yes, they are delivering your goods to your clients. Are they your customers? Yes, they have demands that you must meet. Are you their customer? Yes again, without their services, you would have a difficult time getting your product distributed, and as such you have certain demands that they must meet as well.
If The Answer Is Yes To All, How Do I Act?
The answer is of course quite simple. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Explain your situation, explain what you are looking for, and determine if your distributor can meet your expectations. If not, thank them and move on to a different distributor.
The important thing is working to ensure that all needs are met, and the only way to do so is to act like a thinking, rational, and respectful adult. If all the relationships do not work smoothly, they will not work. You wouldn’t yell at your customer for asking something to be shipped next day when you offer next day shipping, nor should you yell at the person or company you are attempting to use to get that done.
Treat all distributors like both customers and employees. If you need something done within X amount of time, state this, like an employer would, but do so respectfully, in the same manner that you would use when you would talk to a customer. In return you will be treated like you want to be treated in a customer capacity. Supplier chains work the best when all aspects of the relationship are addressed and all are taken into account.
Image Source: Powered Play. (2014). Distributors. Retrieved from http://poweredplay.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/distributors.jpg