Suppliers need to do more to communicate with retailers

Communication between suppliers and retailers is essential during these difficult times. Now restrictions have been lifted, sales reps should prioritise getting out on the road again and asking retailers how they can help, says Paul Crow, managing director of Ripples Bathrooms.

Crow acknowledged that his suppliers have been generally good to retailers during the Covid period. However, he said that communication has been “poor and bordering on disgraceful”.

In his column in the August issue of kbbreview, he explained: “During these challenging times, communication is essential. This is where I will be most critical of suppliers as, overall, it’s been poor and bordering on disgraceful. The very personable and talented people that I meet every week across our supply chain seem to drop all common sense when they compile the notes that go out to advise retailers of these issues.”

According to Crow, during the pandemic, the personal touch was also lacking, with bad news being communicated through letters that looked like tax documents. Even though face-to-face showroom calls were not possible, speaking to retailers in a more conversational style can often help soften the blow of potential bad news.

He said: “My advice to any supplier in this situation is to stop sending out templated letters that look like tax documents and instead write personal notes using words you would say if you were face-to-face with the retailer. Remind people of what you can do and have done to help, as well as what bad news you bring.”

Now that showrooms have been open for months and most restrictions have lifted, sales reps need to go out and have more face-to-face with their customers, Crow encouraged.

He said: “I want to see a continued effort being made by suppliers to visit showrooms and bring back what most did so well before the pandemic – some old-fashioned repping. Make an appointment, bring us product updates, sales figures, exciting news, enthusiasm, some cakes and SELL us your company and products like you used to before they changed your job title to account manager.”

He continued: “A good starting question for them to any of our franchisees would be: ‘How can I help?’ We retailers have to think on our feet every day and adapt to new situations. We want evidence that suppliers are now doing the same.”

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