Dealers and Distributors Should Embrace the Role of Curator

By Eric Schmitt
Vice President, Rapids Foodservice Contract & Design

Finding the right piece of equipment for a particular customer or kitchen designer can make or break a relationship. Even we, as consumers, have “that company” that we will never go back to because they steered us in the wrong direction on a purchase. All of us have customers we’ve likely lost because of this same frustration.

That frustration, coupled with the incredible amount of easily accessible data on the internet, has empowered consumers and made them more comfortable with hopping online and searching for their own solutions. The downside, however, is that this endless database of information we call the web can quite literally be that for many of our most valuable customers. Even the most astute and conscientious buyers can become overwhelmed in a tangled mess, creating a situation in which they find themselves with a piece of equipment that may not match their specific needs.

The internet is filled with incredible value for all of us, but as the channel captains, the dealer community should embrace the role of curator to help consumers and customers interpret the features and benefits—in both B2C and B2B scenarios. To be a valuable partner and curator for our customers, we need a superior ability to listen with purpose and we must master the art of effective communication so we can work collaboratively with our channel partners to deliver the right solution.

Whether we’re helping a customer select a single piece of equipment or designing and equipping a new kitchen, we should take time to listen closely and ask questions wisely. When we do this, we can get to the core of the customer’s need. Once we’ve drilled down to that core, we should welcome the opportunity to engage our channel partners.

From expert understanding of operations and utility requirements to discussions on lead times and service support, our manufacturer, manufacturer’s rep, consultant, and service partners can provide an incredible amount of insight that helps the end user find the best solution and ensure that they understand the impact of any additional cost associated with a purchase. By bringing our channel partners to the table with us on this process, we also encourage a more streamlined experience for the end user, signaling that the entire channel is on the same page in delivering what they need.

Remember, many consumers have opted to go it on their own because of a real or perceived experience of friction in past purchases. If we cannot effectively lead our customers through the web of data that is available to them, then we are simply exacerbating the issue of friction. Embrace that we, as dealers, along with our channel partners, have the road map to navigate the web and match our customers’ needs with the right solution. Someone I knew well once said, “A great solution will cost you once but a bad one will cost you many times over.” As we enter this new year, let’s be ready to help our customers find their great solution!