Everyone wants to be noticed, and being listed on the "find a dealer" service of a manufacturer's website can be a great way to bring in business. But some dealers are discovering it's much harder to place their names on vendors' websites than they had expected.
Patrick Moretti, general manager and vice president of Ricci Lumber, went through just such a battle when an employee noticed the Portsmouth, N.H.-based dealer wasn't listed on Makita's website even though Ricci has sold that brand's power tools for more than 25 years.
In fact, "the only [place to buy] that was listed pretty much across the country was The Home Depot," says Moretti. "I may not be a major player, but I'm certainly aligned with Makita."
Problem was, Makita didn't know that. Moretti thinks Ricci wasn't showing up on Makita's list of customers because Ricci had gone from buying roughly 90% of its products directly from Makita to buying 80% of Makita-branded goods through a distributor. As a result, Makita had less info on how many of its products were getting sold by Ricci.
Makita spokesman Wayne Hart says that in general, when his company decides to list a dealer, Makita's goal is to "ensure that the customer gets a good experience." He says Makita takes into account the amount of products bought directly from the company, the amount bought through co-ops and distributors, and the extent of the product line the dealer carries. The company also relies on its sales reps to track how each dealer is selling and displaying its products, Hart says.
But in Ricci's case, after the Makita sales rep told Moretti that Ricci would be on the website in a matter of weeks, several months passed and Ricci still wasn't on the list. It took six months of nagging to higher-ups at Makita before Ricci finally was listed.
ProSales' conversations with numerous dealers indicate this is a nationwide issue, and usually for the same reason: Dealers' increasing use of distributors rather than buying direct from the manufacturer.
In Oakdale, Minn., Carl Wegener of Glenbrook Lumber has gotten so frustrated with being snubbed by some companies that whenever reps for those companies visit, Wegener takes them to a wall in the store on which he's tacked up website pages from the vendor's competitors, showing how those competitors were listing Glenbrook. Wegener says his "Wall of Shame" often motivates vendors to change their minds about listing Glenbrook.