Any business that supplies goods or services to customers needs to have a well-oiled supply chain in place in order to deliver quality products in a reliable, timely manner.
At the top of that chain are the pro AV manufacturers that provide products to distributors, who in turn supply solution providers, who then eventually sell to the customer.
While solution providers may not have control over the types, quantities and pace of how pro AV products are manufactured and delivered to the marketplace, they certainly have a choice over the distributors they use.
If you suddenly find yourself fielding too many service inquiries concerning late deliveries, defective merchandise or too many customers jumping ship to competitors, it may be time to consider finding another pro AV distributor.
Here are five red flags indicating it's time for a change:
1. Bad service or reputation
Bad news tends to travel fast. Likewise, if your pro AV distributor is providing unacceptable or incompetent service to solution providers like you, you can bet you'll find out about it either by word of mouth or the Web.
Pay attention to what's being said on trusted industry forums or try reaching out to fellow solution providers on the phone and ask about their experience with a particular vendor. You may be surprised by what you find.
Another good resource (for solution providers in the U.S.) is to check your state's company licensing bureau online. Many times, complaints are logged and made available to the public. Another good source of information is the Better Business Bureau, which fielded more than 840,000 assorted complaints in 2014 alone.
2. Limited product offering
For solution providers, the ability to deliver comprehensive, effective pro AV and digital signage solutions to your customers often depends on having the latest and greatest product lineup. If your distributor routinely offers you outdated technology or cheaply manufactured products, it's time to look elsewhere.
3. Poor product support and training
Does your distributor solidly back the products they supply to solution providers throughout the entire product lifecycle or only during the procurement, design and installation phase?
Is training of any kind offered by your distributor? If not, it should be. A good distributor knows that it's mutually beneficial to provide product training in order for solution providers to feel knowledgeable and excited about the products they sell to end users.
4. Questionable qualifications
This circles back to what was mentioned earlier about knowing your distributor's business history and reputation. Distributors whose name comes up favorably in conversation with other solution providers tend to be the ones to seek out.
If your distributor routinely has problems answering basic questions about product functionality, upgradeability or well-known hardware and software bugs, chances are they are not properly trained or invested in the industry.
Look for distributors who make routine appearances at important trade shows and keep their industry certifications up to date.
5. Lack of business and marketing support
Solution providers are constantly looking for ways to grow their business, which is why it's vital to partner with a distributor who is on the same page when it comes to business development techniques. Both companies want to encourage the kind of growth that comes with brand recognition.
If your distributor is unwilling or unable to provide assistance with basic marketing materials like flyers, Web page access, white papers and the like, it may be time to seek out another distribution partner who will help you leverage these materials in order to promote your business.
Do any of these red flags remind you of distributors you currently partner with? If so, it may be time to seek another vendor in order to help you grow your business.