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!
Are Manufacturers really listening?
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.
Source: The Big Payoff Awaits Those Who Invest in their Contractors’ Business
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!
11 thoughts on “The Relationships between Manufacturers and Contractors”
I work as a sales-rep for a paint manufacturer and I have been trying to grow the relationship between contractors and manufactures since I got here. When I get a question/complaint/concern/etc..I will share all the information I can get with a contractor, and I will search hard to find that information. I will make phone calls on the job site and put pressure on people to get answers quickly. I will do research and ask questions on websites like bloggingpainters.com and others to gain more information which I can not get from my own company. I like to get involved with demos and connect contractors with new products. I try to save the contractor money buy helping with take-offs, product selection, deliveries, and maximizing investment on materials and labor costs.
This has been my basic train of thought since I started working for a paint company:
=> Painting contractors depend on the paint companies they CHOOSE to shop from to do their job CORRECTLY and TIMELY so the contractors can get their job done and get paid.
Following that train of thought makes it much easier to build the relationship with contractors. Building that relationship allows me to show how much I truly want to be involved and build a business partnership with the contractor. One difficulty I face is building the relationship enough. Often times contractors will not let a store manager or sales-rep get as involved with their business as we would like.
I meet some very intelligent people on these forum websites. I encourage my customers to use these websites, along with social media sites to grow their business and knowledge of this industry. I encourage better marketing and offer ideas and tips on how to build a stronger business. If you have a paint-rep ask him/her to do this for you. They will do it. If you do not have a paint rep, all you have to do is ask and see if one is available.
Thanks Wes for sharing your thoughts, I imagine you are building great relationships with your contractors. Here is an article by Heidi that encourages contractors to do just that!
I am loyal to Benjamin Moore product – I am constantly pushing their product and colours online and in real life. I would love to see more events for the painters and some new swag!!!
Hi Lynn, Yes, I love your posts on Facebook, and it sounds like you are a loyal customer that BM should appreciate and support!
I think you will find that manufacturers in our industry ARE listening to what is being said. Many are reluctant to post responses on forums because it looks like they are trying to build business for their specific product, and that is often far from the truth. We know that a well-educated contractor is our BEST FRIEND because they know the value of using quality products—the stuff we make.
If you have a problem with a product in our industry, call the manufacturer directly. Most of us have staff available to work with you to overcome any problems you might be encountering. How can we improve our products to serve you better if you don’t tell us?
Additionally, get signed up for manufacturers’ end-user programs. These are more than “loyalty programs.” This is the only way we can interact directly with the end-user of our products. The members in these programs become the “go-to” people when we are developing and improving new products. Want your input to be heard? Join our programs.
We are there to help!
Keith, well said! I know they are listening! One of our goals here at BP has always been to create an open dialogue that goes both ways, we have had the pleasure of interviewing/working with several manufacturers here. Your suggestion of signing up for the programs is excellent, I may have to find a little corner here on BP to share those. Thanks, and hope to see you around!
Very important subject and good article Chris! I like to listen entrepreneur on fire daily podcasts. It was interesting theme from Norm Bour about change of generations. I think that start of listening from manufacturers side to contractors may be a sign that Generation Y (Millennialls) and Generation X slowly coming in to the market with flexibility, high technology and communication skills. I use a lot of SW product and noticed some good changes:more attention at the stores, one store had a meeting with delegation from SW office, they were interviewing me about a product and quality of service, I like BM and SW websites, they are helpful in lots of different levels. Thank you again!
Virgil, thanks for sharing your insights, that is an excellent point about the Gen X coming in, we love to see more painters sharing online! Hope to see more of you!
Great points, Chris.
Thanks Scott, you are a great example of the positive changes happening in the industry, look forward to seeing what 2014 brings!