Story 1 | Umbrella Story

by | Feb 2, 2023 | Case Study | 0 comments

I’m excited to bring you a new, monthly email series based on business learnings I’ve discovered over the last 41 years working closely with manufacturers and their employees, sales networks and customers. These learnings are shared in my Umbrella Collection books—parables focused on the manufacturer-dealer relationship, employee engagement, customer loyalty, leadership and more. This first email shares insights from the first book in the series and the challenges that can arise between manufacturers and their sales networks. Feel free to reach out if you have feedback or would like us to add any colleagues to our mailing list. 

 Face and solve issues quickly.
Issues between manufacturers and sales networks are fairly common. Manufacturers may see their dealers as not selling enough or providing customer experiences befitting the brand. Dealers may believe there’s a lack of new products or have concerns about quality. Whatever the challenge, it’s critical to solve it early.

Failure to do so can lead to irreparable relationships, dealers jumping ship to other brands, frustrated customers, lost sales…the list goes on. In other words, the longer you wait to solve the problem, the higher the price you pay. 

Don’t reduce relationships to numbers.
Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the numbers rather than partnerships. How many products are sold, how much money is made, how many new customers are gained? Don’t get me wrong, numbers are important, but it’s also vital to keep the manufacturer-dealer relationship healthy. That means open conversations about what each side needs from the other. 

And most important, it’s listening and doing something with what is learned. The characters in our Umbrella Story book depict what can happen when partnerships break down due to a lack of listening. The good news is that when you look beyond the numbers and remember you’re on the same side, everyone wins—the manufacturer, the dealer and the customer.

There is no business without the customer.
When there’s angst between manufacturers and their sales networks, it’s common for the customer to get lost in the turmoil. If the manufacturer isn’t supporting its dealers with products, training, parts, etc., they’re making it impossible for them to serve the customer. And when the dealers aren’t explaining products and what makes them special or delivering positive experiences, customers will turn to competitors.

Keeping one statement top of mind—there is no business without the customer—can go a long way toward aligning the manufacturer and dealer on what is most important for each of them, and help clear a path moving forward. 

Please Answer One Short Question

Does your brand value relationships over numbers?


Barry LaBov is founder and CEO of LABOV Marketing Communications and Training. He is a two-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year recipient and author of numerous business books, including the upcoming book The Power of Differentiation. Since 1981, LABOV has differentiated and launched products and brands around the world.