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I currently sell most of my kitchen cabinets directly to residential customers. I think it would be less hassle to sell to dealers only instead of to homeowners and contractors. Have any of you made a successful switch to wholesale to dealers only ? What are the pros or cons to turning walk in customers over to a local dealer instead of dealing direct ?
Have you researched dealers? Will the added costs be a good trade for your lower take or will the dealers need to try and sell @ a higher price? You will loose control of trying to steer the client. Most likely sell through dealers will greatly reduce the amount of "custom."
We sell through brokers, commercial interiors.
I have contacted several dealers and have being selling a small amount already to one dealer. You're right - I do loose some control over the design phase. However finalizing a design to a homeowner client can sometimes be a long process which cuts into the supposed higher profit margin if I factor all the extra time . I strongly consider not taking walk in customers and marketing to dealers only . But i'm not sure if that is a profitable option ? Hoping to hear if it has worked or not for other shops that started off selling direct and switched to dealer only.
" finalizing a design to a homeowner client can sometimes be a long process which cuts into the supposed higher profit margin if I factor all the extra time"
I can understand why this might be a long process from the customer's side. This is foreign process to them and it takes a while to understand their options and what they cost. It doesn't help that they also need to compare your offering with what they could get elsewhere.
The problem is that there is not much transparency in the transaction. Cabinetmakers want to just give a price and not talk about options. The price they offer is a lump sum. There is no way for a customer to do a cost benefit analysis on any of their choices because nobody will tell them what component of overall cost any particular gizmo represents.
There is a lot of consternation, confusion and frustration on everybody's part. The cabinetmaker just wants to make a sale and get it into production. The homeowner knows they only have one chance to get it right and the people they work with aren't particularly helpful.
The thing to focus on here is how to make it easier for your customers to buy your product. What would you want if you were a customer? Put that offering on the menu.
There's a million questions that have to be asked and answered. You can try to blow through this but it will probably not be to your advantage later. Better instead to figure out:
What are all the questions and what are the allowable answers for each question?
What is the proper sequence to ask the question? (Nobody can drink from a fire hose).
What are the tools the customer needs to make these choices? (This probably involves a lot of pictures and samples but does not necessarily involve a fancy showroom.)
Retail customers may be a pain in the ass but remember that the your competition already has this PITA factor priced into the product. All you have to do is get better at handling retail customers......the alternative is to work for less money and trade fewer dollars for a different PITA.
When you are working direct you control the spigot. What would you do if your dealers came to you with ten kitchens next week and none the following month? Not so easily it up quickly. Much easier to dial it down.
Sales ,Not all cabinetmakers sell the same . educating potential clients empowers them with information to make usually better decisions .My transactions are more transparent than you describe .
Typically showing them completed jobs and offering references and actual homes to go and see some cabinet works is huge and something the big box can't do .