Ever wonder just how your company’s service differs from the service customers get from your competitor down the block? All distributors like to say they offer the best service in the market and are the easiest to do business with. But best-in-class distributors stand out because they offer unique packages of value-added services that go above and beyond the basic service package of competitive prices, local availability and delivery. Have you ever taken a step back and really thought about how the service you offer compares with other distributors in your local market, or how it compares with what Amazon Business and other online sources of supply offer?
We have put a checklist of 50 different services that best-in-class distributors offer their customers. To use it, get out a pen or pencil and check off the services you now offer. Score one point for each check. Add “bonus” points if you provide that service in an exceptional manner; deduct points if what you offer in that area really needs work.
A score of 40 or more. You are ahead of the pack and are doing a lot of the right things right.
A score of 30 to 39. Your company provides some decent services, but there’s room for improvement.
A score of 29 or less. You are probably lagging other sources of supply in your market area.
- 1. Have the right inventory in stock when my customers need it.
- 2. Regularly provide customers with information on new products.
- 3. My salespeople are familiar with the latest changes in the National Electrical Code (NEC) and know which products and applications are affected by these changes.
- 4. Offer customers a line of credit.
- 5. Deliver products directly to job sites and other facilities.
- 6. Provide accurate, timely pricing information.
- 7. Conduct business in an ethical, professional manner.
- 8. Make emergency deliveries.
- 9. Offer after-hours access to salespeople via personal cellphone, text, and/or email.
- 10. Hold counter days, in-house training sessions, or trade shows so customers can meet with manufacturers’ reps.
- 11. Open on Saturdays.
- 12. Accept credit cards for small orders and other special situations.
- 13. Handle returns and defective products in a professional manner with no hassles.
- 14. Stage orders on big projects so deliveries show up at the job site the day customers need them — not too early and never too late.
- 15. Train customer employees on new products.
- 16. Employ salespeople who are knowledgeable on products and call or visit customers at their places of business or job sites.
- 17. Offer access to products from dozens of manufacturers. If we don’t have it in stock, we will order it.
- 18. Offer advice on bookkeeping, marketing, and other business best practices.
- 19. Understand the importance of stocking each product in a system or offer complete packages of products that work together.
- 20. Stock preassembled electrical products and/or systems to save customers time on the job site.
- 21. Have someone on staff that can help customers with problem-solving and troubleshooting applications.
- 22. Know local building codes and practices.
- 23. Stand behind the products we sell.
- 24. Provide substitutions for brands that may be out of stock.
- 25. Do take-offs for some projects.
- 26. Provide detailed, accurate quotations for bids.
- 27. Demonstrate product features and applications when requested.
- 28. On industrial-type projects, coordinate just-in-time deliveries to manufacturing facilities.
- 29. Keep customers competitive on bids with fair market pricing.
- 30. Provide product information online and, when necessary, in print.
- 31. Have capable in-house salespeople to handle questions and expedite orders, as well as in-house product specialists to answer technical questions.
- 32. Offer special incentives such as dating, special delivery, training, etc., when a customer uses us as their main source of electrical supply.
- 33. Send manufacturers’ reps or field salespeople to job sites to help with product-related problems.
- 34. Offer custom cable cutting, bundling and paralleling services.
- 35. Have conveniently located branches in my company’s areas of service.
- 36. Serve customers’ employees quickly when they stop by the branch.
- 37. Go the extra mile to deliver products in emergency situations (floods, major power outages, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.).
- 38. Regularly ask for feedback on our service, either through surveys or regular face-to-face meetings with salespeople.
- 39. Support local electrical associations and industry events.
- 40. Have new LED lighting systems in our branches’ offices, counter areas, warehouses, and reception areas so customers can see how they perform in actual work environments, and how the light they emit compares with other lighting systems.
- 41. Stock non-electrical supplies such as water coolers, ladders, foul-weather gear, shovels, etc.
- 42. Offer a tool-rental program for more expensive power equipment such as power benders and generators.
- 43. Provide on-site tool crib stocking services for large jobs.
- 44. Provide demonstration models of tools or samples of new supplies so customers can test and evaluate the products under job-site conditions.
- 45. Offer online billing, and other time-saving features to cut down on paper work.
- 46. Have an online storefront where customers can check inventory levels, monitor order progress, pricing, etc.
- 47. Provide prompt response to texts, emails and other communications.
- 48. Maintain a website with updated contact information for key personnel, branch locations, etc.
- 49. Offer a “clean and simple” website with easy navigation so customers’ employees don’t have to waste valuable time looking for product specs, order status, or information on other company services, etc.
- 50. Offer a mobile app that provides easy access to order status, key contact information, pricing, etc.