In the past, the relationships between manufacturers and contractors has always been buffered by various vendors/middlemen. Painting Contractors who had a question or a problem with a product usually got no further than their paint store rep, very few had the time, tenacity or resources to to work their way up the chain to speak directly with the manufacturer. Sure, you may see a product vendor at a paint store event or trade show, but the focus is usually on selling you their product, not solving your problems, providing answers or suggestions to build your business.
Painting Contractors do voice their opinions and are heard
Visit any popular contractor forum and you will see countless members complaining/commiserating about this lack of communication, especially when they have a product failure, or even suggestions on how to improve a product. Traditionally, it has been a one way communication, as manufacturers/vendors were not welcomed on many forums, although we know they do watch them!
An online forum member recently posted looking for information on a new product:
I got a call today from my Benjamin Moore rep. Apparently he got a call from headquarters today referencing this thread! He said he would drop off some sales literature at my local paint store. Source
Here at Blogging Painters we are seeing more of this as manufacturers read the opinions of our readers in our posts and Reader Reviews. We have worked with smaller companies where our members are beta testing products and providing feedback that results in changes being made to the product.
The difference now is that manufacturers are taking action to reach out to contractors, instead of staying relegated to the role of passive listener.
Opportunities for both Contractors and Manufacturers
I do believe we will see more of an “interdependent” type of relationship growing between the two groups. A recent white paper I found on Linkedin states:
“When the user prospers, so does the supplier.” — Remodeling Contractor
The importance of loyalty and creating true business partnerships is a top priority for Simone, inside his business and out. He sits on the Steering Committee of the Joint Center For Housing Studies and Remodeling Futures at Harvard University.
“If I were a manufacturer, I would do everything I could to support the people who are out pushing my product. It’s a better spend than trying to generate a brand, because the product-makers are going to sell more of their product to guys like us, than to do-it-yourself-ers at Lowe’s and Home Depot,” he says.
What can Manufacturers do to help you?
In that same report, there is a survey on what contractors would like help with, with product sales sheets, promotions and brochures being the top choices, (the survey was given to a variety of trades). When asked for additional examples of how manufacturers could assist them, product training and certification were mentioned most.
If more manufacturers followed the lead of those who have invested time, talent and, yes, money, in their remodeler/contractor customers, they would see true partnerships formed, and realize the measurable impact those partnerships have on the bottom lines of both companies.
Seeing the concept in Action
Graco is a company that is working with contractors actively, featuring real contractors in videos and in literature about sprayers. They also stepped up to become charter sponsors for Prep to Finish, the paint training program created by contractors Scott Burt and Todd Pudvar in 2013.
Manufacturers have been focusing more on seeking out real world examples of contractors using their products. In some cases, manufacturers are seeing what contractors share online, then contact them to set up the opportunity to meet and discuss. So, not only are the manufacturers able to see and hear first hand exactly how contractors are using their products professionally, but they are also able to capture visual footage to share with their own audience through typically high visibility social media outlets.
Everyone wins when this happens.
It will be interesting to see how these relationships continue to evolve in 2014 and here at BP, we will be watching and encouraging more of this type of interaction. We hope to see contractors continue to do their part to break the historical pattern of simply complaining about product issues. It is much more effective to challenge manufacturers to get involved with finding solutions and better sharing them with paint contractors as a group.
We’d love to hear what you think, leave a comment below!