2008 Offers New Opportunities for Independent Dealers

Filed Under (OP News & Views) by Don on 08-01-2008

Although historically an election year means business slows down in the O.P industry, I think this year history will not repeat itself.  In 2007 three of our big box competitors, Office Depot, Office Max and Corporate Express lost as much as 76% of their market valuation with Office Max taking the worst hit.  These three blamed the economy, they blamed the credit crunch, they blamed everything but themselves when in fact the problems lie with their poor judgement and loss of customer centricity.  When their sales weakened they had knee-jerk reactions and laid off hundreds of sales reps.  Their poor handling of customer issues, a complete lack of corporate directives and a clear customer service commitment has nearly broken their back.  If the economy and credit problems were to blame then why did dealers such as WB Mason and others grow their business in the double digits last year?

Obviously this is great news for the independent dealers.  The sales reps they laid off need employment and the dealers are ripe to make big gains in market share by acquiring these experienced personnel.  Many dealers are finally beginning to realize that their web presence is more than just an order entry portal.  It is a resource for their customers too learn about new products and information to help them grow their business.  Everything “eco” or “green” will be important this year.  Don’t let the big boxes beat you to market in this arena! Consumers are slowly beginning to realize that the big boxes have deplorable customer service and their years of hipe about their prices being so low are not true.  The pricing game they play with their contracts are constantly being discovered by the states to which they are contracted.  Office Depot’s business catalog contains about six thousand items and of those I have a list of 1658 items that Depot charges retail price and higher.  Independent dealers need to continue to educate consumers on the benefits of keeping their dollars spent on a local level.

I’ve already started planning for our September consumer products show and I’ve filled our sales meetings schedule with training and information for the next eight months.  What changes have you made to your web presence?  Are you going to market your business more aggressively this year? Do you have your business and personal goals defined and written down in a place that you can see them every day?  If you’re a business owner have you shared your business goals with your staff and made them accountable to help acheive your vision?  Share your thoughts and ideas and leave your comments today.  Best wishes for a prosperous new year!

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