Today I was sent the November issue of Greater Charlotte Biz by one of our top dealers, Ilderton Conversions. This article is a beautiful description of what a capable, committed mobility dealer does to ensure success. It was particularly refreshing to see the recognition of how the Ilderton/BraunAbility partnership has been instrumental to Ilderton Conversion’s success. We at BraunAbility feel the same way – our success rests on our partnership with mobility dealers who take care of our mutual customers every day, 24/7. And Ilderton Conversions is a shining example of this through a simple but hard-to-find formula: family values, total commitment to the customer, and professionalism/excellence in everything they do.
This article compelled me to blog about the importance of a rock solid, seamless manufacturer-dealer relationship. For our customer, who is in a wheelchair and looking for mobility, it is impossible to find solutions and meet their needs without this integral dealer-manufacturer relationship. There is no question in my mind that internet-only sellers, those manufacturers without a dealer network to listen to, equip, and serve customers, will fail in the wheelchair accessible van business. They will ultimately be required to find a way to connect on a personal level, and to provide responsive service around the clock. Taking this a step further, the expertise required to ‘retail’ to end consumers is quite different than the expertise required to manufacture; so different, that most pure manufacturing companies have failed when trying to take on retailing directly.
There is no question in my mind that internet-only sellers, those manufacturers without a dealer network to listen to, equip, and serve customers, will fail in the wheelchair accessible van business.
The challenge posed by this manufacturer-dealer reliance is how to take two different entities, both looking to satisfy the same group of customers, and make them work like one unified body. It must always start and stop with the customer, in our case an individual with a disability looking for mobility through wheelchair vans or wheelchair lifts. But if we are to ‘act as one’, then the relationship between dealer and manufacturer must have the following characteristics:
- shared view that the customer is the number one priority – nothing else comes close
- trust and openness
- strong commitment to each other, and a reliance on each other for success
- desire for each to be profitable to ensure products, service and facilities are right for the customer
The above characteristics are evident in the Ilderton/BraunAbility relationship and throughout our dealer network. However, the best performing relationships are those which take each of the above traits and intentionally work to get better and better in each one. That’s a true partnership. That makes BraunAbility and our model a clear choice over internet direct sellers. That is what makes our customers happy!