Tips for partnering with distributors

May 24, 2021 -  By
Partnering with distributors can save time on shopping around for materials. (Photo courtesy of Horizon Distributors)

Partnering with distributors can save time on shopping around for materials. (Photo courtesy of Horizon Distributors)

Building a relationship with knowledgeable distributors can help landscape companies increase their productivity and efficiency and, in turn, grow their companies. “Our customers’ success determines our success, so we work to provide all the tools needed to grow their business, not just the products,” says SiteOne Sr. manager of customer experience Pooja Watson. “From the associates in our branches to our online service tools, we seek to be our customers’ expanded team.” 

Industry professionals explain how landscape companies can settle on a distributor and maintain a healthy relationship in the long run.

Why team up?

Working with a distributor will not only help landscape pros select the right products for their projects and jobs, but it also provides them with industry expertise and knowledge, according to Jack York, national irrigation product manager for Ewing. “Industry distributors focus on the professional contractor and their needs, prioritizing the B2B relationship,” York says. “By partnering with a distributor, contractors have the added benefit of leveraging the relationships their supplier has with manufacturers for product support and troubleshooting.”

Mary Martinez, director of marketing at Horizon, adds that distributors can help contractors manage the ins and outs of their day-to-day business. “It’s about being able to ask things like, ‘Last year, you bought your fertilizer at this time of year, do you want to preorder it again now?’” Martinez says. “By having a close relationship with your distributor, you can work with them and make sure that your upcoming jobs are being ordered for. If you were jumping around and buying all your product based on price, you’re not going to have that close relationship, and you might find yourself a little short.”

Lincoln Weis, owner of Just Dig It in Kennesaw, Ga., who uses SiteOne as his distributor, notes that it’s also important for distributors to be knowledgeable and invested in the product they’re selling.  “I know I can call anyone in the branch that I go to, and they’ll give me an answer to my question,” Weis says. “They understand the plant material,  and they know when it’s coming in. It takes a lot of experience and years to get to that point to be able to do that. I can ask my distributor’s rep about the nuances of plants, and that helps me make my designs and projects better.”

What to look for

Perks of partnering with distributors include discounted delivery fees, loyalty programs and more. (Photo courtesy of SiteOne Landscape Supply)

Perks of partnering with distributors include discounted delivery fees, loyalty programs and more. (Photo courtesy of SiteOne Landscape Supply)

Key components to look for in a distributor include convenient locations and shopping methods, whether it keeps the right products in stock when landscape pros need them and excellent customer service. Other resources a distributor can offer include training and education classes, troubleshooting support and knowledgeable branch staff.

“When selecting a distributor, consider that decision as selecting a business partner,” York says. “A strong distributor relationship can be instrumental in your business’ long-term growth and success. If you can find a partner that not only meets your product needs but also provides you value-added services to help you work on the business, that relationship will last beyond this season or year and well into years of success for your business.” He recommends checking a potential distributor partner’s inventory levels, asking about how staff communicates with customers on price and inventory changes, comparing payment, credit and rebate terms and learning about any additional value-added services it may offer, such as discounted delivery fees, loyalty programs and education classes.

Martinez adds that local associations are also a good place to start to find a reliable distributor. To maintain a working relationship with their distributor, Martinez recommends that landscape contractors be transparent about their businesses. “If you share that you have jobs coming up or that you’ve just expanded your business, the distributor can help you plan your product buys to make sure that you can keep your cash flow going in the back end and make sure that they stock enough in case you suddenly have an increase in jobs or in business,” she says. “If you communicate that, you can work together and make sure you have the products you need to get your job done every day.”

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's former managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

1 Comment on "Tips for partnering with distributors"

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  1. This is great advice. Thank you for sharing this.