Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

 

Dec 5, 2018

Frank HurtteBy Frank Hurtte

In setting growth plans for the coming year, one should ask, “What percentage of my customers might go away?” Some will go out of business and they stop buying. Others might be folded into a larger organization. If that organization has a relationship with a competitor, your business could be switched to another supplier. Further, some aggressive competitor could make inroads into your account through hard work and/or better relationships, by way of a valuable new service or through jaw dropping price levels. This is hard to face, but it happens. The question is, how much would any of these affect your business?

To the best of my knowledge, the only industry to truly study this phenomenon is the HVAC/R industry. Three years ago, HARDI (Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International) hired Mike Marks and Steve Deist of Indian River Consulting Group to conduct a study that resulted in meaningful numbers. These results, which shocked the industry, were published in a book entitled Myths & Misperceptions: How markets are really made in HVACR. I recommend the book to everyone in the HVACR business and believe the points made apply to distributors in many other lines of trade. Here are a few highlights from their work:

The average small HVACR contractor switches suppliers at a rate of 4% per year with well over half of the attrition (2.5%) tied to distributor dissatisfaction. Larger and more professional contractors switch at a rate of 11% per year, with 7.8% of that tied to distributor dissatisfaction.

Another group, which lumps commercial, institutional and industrial accounts together, switches business at a rate of 29% per year. I believe this higher attrition rate may well be tied to the point that HVACR distributors tend to be geared to better serve contractors than other types of customers. Further, if the institutional portion of the mix is higher, we might assume some of those institutions are government-run organizations that base purchasing practices on price (low bid orders).

For our discussion, there are two points to consider:

1. Even the best of customers leave the fold at a rate of 4% a year with the average nearing double that number.

2. If you are planning to grow your business by 10% next year, plan on 15% growth. Losing some of your existing customers is probably in the cards.

Retention is the opposite of attrition

Nobody starts off with a plan to lose customers, but things happen. The inside sales team gets stretched a little thin and service wanes. The warehouse gets careless and the customer finds themselves facing a box with the wrong parts. Even salespeople, charged with keeping customers, forget to cover all the bases with their customers. Your top suppliers experience delivery issues and you take the brunt of the blame. The list goes on and on.

Done properly, end of year planning allows for contemplation, reflection and plans for correction. Planning allows for an objective view of the current situation and how retention might be improved going into the next year.

Have you reviewed the (hopefully short) list of customers who have stopped buying from you? 

What happened?  

• Has anybody from management done an exit interview?

• How might the situation have been different?  

What preventive measure could avoid the problem in the future?

• Are there trends? Could it be that dealing with "Danny" is toxic to customer health?

• Are there policies or procedures impacting business?  

How long did it take for you to realize something was wrong?

• Who in your organization monitors customers for significant drops in business?

Not every ex-customer can have facial warts and a bad attitude

• Did you listen to the customer’s comments without tossing out excuses?

Are there existing customers on the cusp of leaving?

• Are there early warning systems that might point to issues?

• How might management assist the team in determining ongoing customer satisfaction?

Two important thoughts for your end of year plan

First, customers are more likely to switch distributors because the incumbent distributor did something wrong than because they were sold on the new distributor. This runs contrary to the common sales think.

Second, distributor sales teams aren’t great about staying in contact with the other guy’s customer. After a short flurry of activity, which produces little or no results, they engage with existing customers and let the potential customers fall out of their mind. Most of us understand this is a mistake, but it is the reality of the situation.

Progressive distributors have established a plan for continuing outreach to their competitors’ customers. Is this in your end-of-year plan?

Frank Hurtte is the Founding Partner of River Heights Consulting. The Distributor Channel is a service of River Heights Consulting. Find out more.

 

Westburne WOWLed by Divisional Lighting Manager Salma Siddiqui, the initiative will focus on making Westburne the workplace of choice in the electrical industry and beyond.

Results from research conducted by Westburne found that the electrical industry has a ratio of 6:1 of male vs. female employees. “Realizing these stats are the industry norm has made our eyes open and realize we need to make a change and showcase our women who work for us and at the same time make Westburne the place women would love to work for,” the company says.



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Westburne and RockwellThe Authorized Service Provider designation enables Westburne to deliver Rockwell Automation services through their factory trained team of specialists. These services include installed base evaluation, network assessment, arc flash assessment, lockout/tag-out assessment, and start-up of variable frequency drives.

According to Steve Roy, Regional Sales Manager for Rockwell Automation Canada, “Customer expectations continue to evolve. Aging infrastructure, workforce gaps, global competition and an explosion of new technology provide endless opportunities for customers to improve their businesses.

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IdeaIDEA plans to introduce an online learning management tool, the IDEA Learning Portal, to train customers on the new IDEA Connector, which will launch in late September. This portal will contain comprehensive training information and documentation on the IDEA Connector, a master data management (MDM) platform that enables distributors to securely access accurate and timely product and pricing data directly from manufacturers.

To complement the portal, there will be four training session devoted to manufacturers and distributors at eBiz. These training sessions will dive deeper into specific content to ensure a complete understanding of important functionality.

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Changing Scene

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The new office offers more than double the square footage of its previous location, allowing for two boardrooms, a product showcase room, and a large demo amd sample warehouse space. This new space is home to seven of Munden Enterprises' employees.

 

 

 

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EHRC WLNElectricity Human Resources Canada is delighted to have announced its new partnership with Women Leadership Nation™ (WLN) on International Women’s Day.

Electricity Human Resources Canada is delighted to have announced its new partnership with Women Leadership Nation™ (WLN) on International Women’s Day. This strategic alliance will offer EHRC members and Leadership Accord signatories with training, development and strategy support in their efforts to make progress in closing the Gender Gap.

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ABB Showcases Its Vision of Leadership in Digital Industries at ABB Customer World 2019

Show ReportBy Line Goyette

Leaders and innovators from business, government and the education sector gathered for this ABB premier collaboration event. More than 11,000 delegates attended the bi-annual ABB Customer World Houston 2019 from March 4 to 7 in Houston, Texas. ABB’s latest pioneering technologies were displayed over 150,000 sq ft of a colourful, buzzy display of futuristic conveyor belts and robots, an ABB Formula E Generation 2 car, and much more groundbreaking technology.

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Peers & Profiles

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National ManufacturingExcellence in Manufacturing Consortium EMC’s Advantage through Excellence: Future of Manufacturing Conference is a 2½ day event exploring the competitive advantages, opportunities and successes that can be achieved by manufacturers through a variety of learning forums — up to 40 workshops, panel sessions, keynote presentations and best practice plant tours — providing delegates with outstanding opportunities for benchmarking, peer networking, learning and sharing of hundreds of best practices. An estimated 500 to 900 manufacturing leaders and stakeholders from across Canada are expected to attend. 

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Rick McCartenBy Rick McCarten

I think it was Bill Gates who said the Internet will not have an effect on society short term, but will have a profound effect on us long term. 

Long term versus short term fascinates me. Making the call for one over the other can determine the success (or failure) of companies today. 

Using Bill Gates’ long-term Internet effect example, means that business decisions about the Internet will not necessarily show short-term gain, but will show “profound” gain in the long term.

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Looking Back

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Ms. Levy, a pre-med student from Toronto who recently received her BA in Biology while attending Yishiva University in New York.

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