Improving the Manufacturer-Distributor Relationship
January 14, 2013
Over the years, Emerson Climate Technologies has held a strong tradition of fostering partnerships with wholesalers. It has been in the last decade, however, that the company has increased its commitment to the aftermarket with the development of its Distribution Services business unit. Distribution Services has developed a range of programs specifically designed to help improve the relationship between Emerson and the wholesaler as well as the wholesaler and the contractor.
"Distribution Services consolidates the sales, marketing, and logistics for HVACR aftermarket customers. We supply wholesalers with Emerson products and services that had previously been managed by individual Emerson businesses," said Bob Labbett, vice president of marketing for Emerson Climate Technologies' Distribution Services business unit. "This includes sales representation, customer service support, a central distribution point, expanded e-business capabilities, marketing support, and aftermarket training and technical support."
One of the more recent partnership efforts from Emerson is its 24/7 hotline. This hotline provides a real-time look into the inventory of Copeland(tm) products at participating wholesaler companies across the nation. Currently there are 37 wholesalers sharing their inventory with Emerson. The shared inventories include 125,000 compressors and condensing units totaling nearly $65 million in product inventory. The goal of this hotline is to assist wholesaler branch personnel in finding replacement compressors or condensing units when a refrigeration or air conditioning system fails.
"Oftentimes a wholesaler company doesn't have a specific model in their own inventory to meet an urgent replacement need," said Labbett. "Emerson developed the Hotline to give better visibility to real-time product inventory across the nation so we can meet the immediate needs of the contractor and end-user."
The company is working to advance this program from its pilot phase in an effort to reach more than $5 million in Copeland inventory.
"We recognize the importance of the distribution model, and continue to improve processes so we can help wholesalers effectively service the installed base," said Labbett. "The Emerson Climate Hotline is another tool to help wholesalers build their business, drive sales, and serve customers with Emerson products, while addressing contractor, OEM, and end user concerns about quickly getting a replacement product. Ultimately, this is a service that will further strengthen Emerson's relationship with its customers."
MEETING SUCCESSAnother partnership initiative Emerson has is its multiple wholesaler meetings held throughout the year. During the first half of 2012, the company hosted three-day meetings held in Atlanta and Phoenix with representatives from more than 70 wholesaler companies. Topics included sales and promotion of the Copeland Scroll XJ outdoor condensing unit, CoreSense electronics for Copeland compressors, product transitions, and retrofit opportunities.
"At these meetings we took a new approach and used third- party facilitators to conduct smaller breakout sessions. The objective was to identify opportunities that will help ensure the successful launch of our electronics product offering," explained Labbett. "These are important meetings that give us a chance to spend valuable time with the individuals responsible for managing the Emerson product lines at their companies. The post-meeting surveys indicated that content and presentations hit the mark."
Emerson's most recent meeting with wholesalers, the annual National Wholesaler Conference, was held in Tucson, Ariz., in October. The conference focused on the state of the industry, Emerson's business strategy, new products and services, and resources to help wholesalers advance their businesses.
A highlight of the meeting was the presentation of multiple awards during a banquet. Birch Taylor, vice president and general manager of Emerson Climate Technologies Distribution Services business unit, presented awards in four different categories to wholesalers who had made significant sales and marketing achievements. The awards presented were: Peak Performance, Summit, Signature, and Center Stage. Emerson also presented a new award focused on the achievement of education and training in the HVACR industry - the Glenn W. Hannegan Jr. Leadership Award.
"It is encouraging to see so many outstanding wholesalers achieve steady growth," said Taylor. "We value our network of wholesalers and partner to bring out the best in technology, expertise, and service."
EDUCATION PARTNERSHIPEmerson has also made strides in its effort to provide educational opportunities. Through the Educational Services business unit, Emerson is working to provide comprehensive technical training programs and services for the HVACR industry.
Although the courses are designed for the HVACR technician, Emerson stresses to its wholesalers that, "When you sponsor a training course in conjunction with Emerson Climate Technologies, you're giving your customers a hands-on demonstration of your commitment to their success. That's the kind of commitment that enhances your reputation among the contractor community and builds customer loyalty at the same time."
In its release of the 2012-2013 schedule of course offerings, Emerson has updated and renamed some of its courses, including Residential Scroll, Compressor Essentials, and Compressor and System Troubleshooting.
"The updated courses underscore Emerson's commitment to continually meet the educational needs of HVACR professionals in the changing landscape of the technology in our industry," said Larry Banas, director of Educational Services. "We will continue to honor and recognize wholesaler companies that have made the same commitment by strengthening their expertise, knowledge, and confidence."
According to Emerson, sponsoring local training courses helps wholesalers carve out a competitive advantage in their market areas, demonstrate commitment to support customers, help reduce warranty claim issues, and keep customers current on regulations and technology.
"From hands-on seminars to online tools, Emerson provides the training your customers need at a time and place that fits your schedule and theirs," said the company. "Whether it's learning new techniques in HVACR system maintenance or implementing a comprehensive energy management program for supermarkets, Emerson Climate Technologies gives your customers the knowledge to succeed with training options that make sense."
All courses are approved by North American Technician Excellence (NATE) for use towards contractor NATE recertification, and are all eligible for continuing education credits as well.
As a sponsor of training programs, wholesalers can leave most of the arranging up to Emerson Climate Technologies or take a more hands-on approach and plan the event themselves.
Visit www.emersonclimate.com for more information.