Good reputation and good relationships are the drivers of success when dealing with manufacturer’s reps. When you have a small startup creating custom solutions in manufacturing and you happen to have 15 or less employees, then an owner or the founder has a great responsibility, especially when it comes to sales. When the fabricators start growing, then they need a formal team for sales. They can choose to do it in-house or to find an independent representative to handle all the tasks at hand. In most cases, the choice may depend on different circumstances and all of the options have their upside and downside.
When a fabricator decides to go for an independent rep, it is important to ensure that they have successful relationships. This is the only way you can work with reps to handle custom tools that need very specific attention.
What makes a great rep?
A good manufacturer’s rep can be determined by his or her expertise and experience within the local market. Such a rep should have a line card and should have worked with reputable and contract manufacturers over the years. The rep should be able to adapt to different demand changes while consistently delivering the best quality and in good time.
In some cases, soft conflicts may be witnessed. It is the extent of the conflict that needs to be assessed before you pick the rep. It is important for the manufacturer to do a review of the line card of the reps. It should offer great quality. The rep should also be dealing with companies that are reputable. In the same breath, ensure that any conflicts that exist are acceptable. Everything should be laid out on paper and in the form of a contract to avoid issues arising in the future. When you are assessing a line card, there is no way that you will not have a single overlap. In cases where there is no overlap, then it may mean that the rep is not experienced in handling custom solutions manufacturing. Experience is the greatest asset any rep can possess. Even though the overlaps are healthy, they should be minimal.
Every company that is on a line card of a rep has its strengths and they may complement each other. The rep can then visit, the prospect to offer a fabrication from another company and casting from another. This means that for customers, the rep is a great place where you can access different things from different manufacturers.
When two companies happen to be making a certain product, they can assist one another when there are constraints in terms of capacity. Even if they are dealing with something that is not the core of their business, they can be able to help another company dealing with the same when they are in a pinch.
This means that a rep may allow people to have a kind of shop network that is informal. A fabricator can therefore go, but without any risk of additional machines or processes and hiring more employees.
If you are dealing with custom tools, then you need to find a good rep. Custom tool manufacturers have very specific needs. This means that the fabricator should avoid finding or using a rep that ends up training the reputation of the company or misrepresenting operations. In most cases, a good rep will have a line card that is well established and you may need to exert some effort to get them to your team. Good reps are not easily acquired.
A good rep is not made in one day. They take years and years being nurtured and mentored. They climb different sales ladder in the manufacturing sector or other businesses to make it to the top. This allows them to be reliable and rooted. This is the reason why most reps deal with specific regions and in specific lines of manufacturing. For this reason, they are conversant with the industry that they are in and are, therefore, in a better position to extend the services with confidence.
The experience creates a representative that is conversant with the territory, someone who understands the processes involved in manufacturing, and the best skills to communicate technically. This allows them to be so good at custom solutions in manufacturing.
Relationships are everything for a manufacturer’s rep and so they should work hard to maintain and build them. This is not something that happens in a day. Relationships need years upon years to have a seat at the high table. This is after they prove themselves as being reliable, especially in a specific manufacturing category.
Ideally, the relationships need to be centered in a specific region to ensure that the rep is honest. This is the only way that the reps reputation is sold.