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Installments: The dealer’s perspective

Dec. 9/16 2013; Volume 27/number 16

By Dave Stafford

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Dave Stafford

Every dealer hopes for impeccable performance from his mill suppliers. If he doesn’t get the service he expects, and amends are not quickly made, a budding relationship may be doomed.

If you are a vendor, take a close look at the performance of your mill reps, local managers, delivery methods and claims handling. Any one of the four actual examples below may be the determining factor in whether a dealer will do future business with you or no longer use your services.

The mill rep

A disorganized mill rep didn’t really understand the local market. And although he had a cell phone, he didn’t respond quickly.

“You need pricing on the Jolson project? Well, I have to check and see what our price will be and I’ll call you back in 10 minutes.”

After three days, pricing was finally given. However, there was no consideration for spec work because the rep didn’t keep track of the project and tried to be a friend to everyone, recommending that various dealers be allowed to price the project.

Mill management snafus

“I expect you to give me a call if I can help in any way,” the regional manager said.  However, when there was a problem, a number of calls were made about a significant claim that remained unresolved for months. Finally, a large order was held up, so the regional manager returned a call and promised to follow up in the morning.

Three days later, through a third party, the dealer was told the claim was approved, a credit was made to his account and the order was released.

Trying to land a particular job, a dealer who was experiencing a local issue placed a call to the mill’s marketing vice president and asked that he receive a call back. In spite of several additional calls, there was no response from anyone. The dealer gave up and switched to another product, vowing never to use that mill again.

On-time delivery

A dealer sent an order by fax and received an acknowledgement of order and ship date. The mill bumped production week after week, blaming everything on slow yarn deliveries. There was no follow up by mill customer service with a progress report and no specific assurance as to when shipment might be made. There was great reluctance to even discuss the issue of temporary carpet. Finally, when a call was made about order status, the mill’s customer service department provided a bill of lading number but failed to mention that the trailer would not move for several days until it could be filled up with other carpet still in production.

Claims processing nightmares

When notified of a defect, a mill insisted that its rep inspect the carpet. The rep looked at the product and called his office; they would have to send in a technical expert. “This may be installation related,” he reported.

After 10 days, the expert inspected the carpet, said he would furnish a report and would have to recheck production records, all the while not admitting there was really a problem.

The claims department said they did not have a report from their expert and there was no claim number assigned by the mill rep. Because of this lack of information, they couldn’t really say what would be done.

Why do business with a mill?

A good mill rep. Managers that return phone calls. Quality products. Shipments made on time, backed up by good customer service. Prompt and fair claims processing.

It’s simple: treat your customer the way you’d like to be treated.