SUMMER 2019 EDITION

We are well into the selling season and by now you should know how your year is shaping up. As I look at the U.S. economy overall, most indicators are working in our favor. Below are a few check-and-balance points that I’m sure you’re paying close attention to:

1. Sales growth: With the economy as it is, are you growing your company’s sales? Are you taking market share from your competition? Are you opening new accounts quarterly? These are very important actions to be executing at this time.

2. Profitability: With our competition that leads with price and big-box stores that sell through the internet (and have a local presence), more than ever we have to cut margins to win orders. Are you holding your sales reps accountable for maximum profitability? Are you strategically working closely with our IMARK suppliers to maximize stock purchases, gross margin return on investment and programs that our suppliers generously offer?

3. Professional development: The younger generation of employees is increasingly eager and seeking advancement opportunities without the patience to which we are all accustomed. It’s very important to identify and support your employees with what they need to ensure longevity. Challenge them with training, one-on-one meetings and review their goals regularly before your competition offers them more.

4. Company efficiencies: What worked yesterday will not necessarily work today. Our businesses are becoming more paperless and we are relying more on technology as our customers and suppliers are too. Change and open-mindedness are critical to the success of today’s distributor.

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IMARK E-Customer Service Achievement Program

Our cover story in this issue is called, “If You Build It, Will They Come?” See page 28 to read the article. The contributors to this piece work for IMARK member companies (of all sizes) that have moved forward with e-commerce tools and web storefronts to enhance customer service and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Despite years of non-stop warnings from industry pundits and others, many distributors are not yet convinced of the need to develop these capabilities. After all, most of their customers are not clamoring to order online and seem perfectly happy with the way things are today. Of course, customers will not tell you before they leave—they’ll just conduct business elsewhere.

Even so, most distributors in this situation indicate that sooner or later they will need to move forward. Many of them will continue to “kick the can down the road” and live to fight another day.

Build on Your Strengths

I was recently at a Legrand Distributor Advisory Council meeting and discovered that one of my peers started e-commerce 10 years ago. His e-commerce business is now 35% of his overall sales. This is truly compelling and the return on investment is significant to his business.

Should we all participate in this trend? Think about it. IMARK member companies that offer e-commerce solutions to their customers show higher, long-term retention of their customers. In other words, if you offer them a solid e-commerce product, your customers will typically remain loyal for many years to come.

The IMARK e-Customer Service Achievement program was developed by the IMARK Futures Group and authorized by the IMARK Group Board of Directors. Its purpose is three-fold:

  1. To provide a roadmap for IMARK members who intend to develop e-commerce and digital resources to enhance customer service
  2. To recognize and reward IMARK members who have developed these capabilities
  3. To encourage members to start now and receive a reward from IMARK for their progress

There are three achievement levels (Level 1, Level 2 and the Pinnacle Level) with payouts ranging from $1,000 to $12,500. The deadline to submit your application for payout is March 31, 2020. More than 50 members have received payouts from IMARK Group. We’d like more members to receive payouts before the program is complete.

Doesn’t it make sense to start earning now when you’re going to start investing in e-commerce anyway?

For more information about this opportunity, visit imarkgroup.com and click on the “$12,500” icon on our home page.

Bob PowersIMARK Chairman of the Board