Supplying Countertops for Another Business' Showroom

If a butcher-block countertop maker provides tops for a cabinetmaker's showroom cabinets, what should the business terms be? November 23, 2012

We design and build custom butcher block countertops. The market where we are is quite hot and our product is unique to the area. We have been approached by a large and reputable kitchen cabinet supplier to display our butcher block tops in their showroom. They love our tops and want to offer them to their clients.

What is protocol in this situation? Do I give a top to the showroom at no charge and hope they send me all the business? Do I charge them retail and hope they send me their business? Do we draft up a contract to ensure all wood and top business comes to me? Iím not sure where to go here. Their countertops are quite expensive to make and I cannot really afford to give them away but I also really want more exposure and business. What do you think? Any advice would be appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor D:
The more exposure the better to the correct market so it sounds like a good match. Maybe you could brand your name and logo on the top side of each top?

From contributor M:
I have my cabinetry displayed in several outlets. For most samples I charge only for the materials, and sometimes the direct labor cost. I have a lot of really nice marketing materials including full color brochures and company profile. I tell the show room that they must keep my marketing materials present and visible at all times. There are exceptions, most condo developments do not want the client to know where the cabinetry comes from and I usually give the cabinetry to them for free as part of the contract. Branding the counters is a great idea.

From contributor C:
I like the idea of getting your product out there in as many venues as possible - problem being is that there's a lot of people that either have no intention of sending you business and are looking for a free countertop, or are doing this with good intentions but won't send you business because their clientele isn't interested and it really was a mismatch.

So my suggestion is to compromise. Offer them the showroom countertops at slightly above breakeven and then credit them $50 per order up to the amount that they paid for the countertop. This way, you're not out of pocket for showroom displays that don't generate sales and in the end they get "free" countertops - if they ordered from you.

Also, it's not a bad idea to laser-engrave or burn-brand your business name into the countertop near the sink area, but let's face it - if they're going to send the business elsewhere a branding won't stop anything.