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Paint, body and equipment purchase during Covid-19

Whether you are just gearing up your shop during the coronavirus crisis or looking to expand your business, there are a couple of ways to improve your Paint, Body and Equipment (PBE) purchasing power. One is to engage your jobber’s sales force, and another is to team up with an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) representative.

Steven Schillinger

Many shop owners do not want to deal with reps but have to go through them anyway. Some shops may have a bad relationship with certain reps, or the rep may have alienated certain people for personal reasons. During Covid-19, service and repair shops now have to do a lot of extra work to bypass conflict, and all while they may still pay an added fee.

Mr. Rob Dolezal, president and founder of cleanroompaintshop.com, stated, “By knowing the pros and cons of their purchasing power, shop owners can be better positioned to choose which is best for their business. Choosing one over the other (or sometimes a combination) will depend on a number of factors, notably their budget, vehicle manufacturer agreements and, most recently, coronavirus-associated supply chain constraints.”

THE PROS:

  • Efficiency: Paint, Body and Equipment reps are focused exclusively on the shop owner’s business and can act as an “ambassador.”
  • Knowledge: In-depth familiarity with their products and target market enables sales reps to interact more effectively.
  • Leads: As a part of the shop’s sales team, reps can achieve better results when it comes to generating qualified sales leads.
  • Assessment: You can task your reps to perform activities beyond order taking, such as customer satisfaction surveys, stock counting, competition surveys, and more.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Shops can get feet on the ground quickly without having to deal with the overhead of a salaried purchasing agent.
  • Ramp-up: There are a few online “match-making” sites that enable shop owners to quickly locate and readily hire sales reps that already sell in the PBE industry.
  • Influence: Experienced sales reps can introduce new networks, connections, and products, as well as insight into opportunities, market trends and what competitors are doing.
  • Risk: For small shops with limited resources, not needing to hire an in-house purchasing agent is a big plus, and also helps during downturns. The best of both worlds during Covid-19.

THE CONS

  • Competition: Sales reps typically represent other products, so your products do not get their full attention, especially when your shop is not a large user.
  • Favoritism: Reps push the products and services they feel have the best chance of selling and making them money, and may put your shop on the back burner when other manufacturers run promotions or increase commissions.
  • Training: If selling your products requires some technical knowledge, it can be expensive and difficult to coordinate training or reps may simply not have the time.
  • Style: Sales reps may not sell according to the style you prefer or in the manner best suited to promote your shop, which can negatively impact customer relations and satisfaction.
  • Financial: Reps are on your monthly payroll regardless of their productivity, and you may end up investing time and resources in a person that consistently fails to meet your needs.
  • Liability: Shop owners may experience problems when purchasing or using non-OEM service or repair products such as customer claim denial, cancelled warranty coverage, supplement refusal, exceeding garage keeper coverage or, most recently, premises liability for contracting Covid-19.
  • Neglect: To some degree, shops leave buying up to the manufacturer’s representative that might hold the “most favored” products for their better accounts.
  • Costs: Because of the complexities involved to appoint and dismiss representatives, scaling your estimating team up or down takes more time.

IN CONCLUSION
One can see that the deciding factors of purchasing products from an OEM or the jobber boils down to budget and control. Sales reps can save shop owners money when they do not have the resources to hire an in-house purchasing agent. However, many shop owners actually have little control over how and where branded products are purchased because of underlying agreements and restrictions.

Added Conversation: Where shops are open to the public, owners may be liable for the transfer of Covid-19 if the shop fails to exercise reasonable care in giving an adequate warning that would enable employees, customers or reps to avoid the harm, or to otherwise protect them from it.

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