'Monogamy' impossible for service dealers, distributors

Jan. 1, 2020
Can a monogamous relationship exist between a service dealer and just one jobber or warehouse?

It’s funny — not funny, “Ha, ha,” but funny, peculiar — how focusing on one topic can lead directly into another similar, yet very different one. Last month’s column resulted in a revelation, an epiphany of sorts. By considering the very nature of the relationships we all share, I was forced to confront an aspect of those relationships that I have never seen addressed before. Not here. Not anywhere. And that is, by nature, a monogamous relationship between a service dealer and just one jobber or warehouse. This relationship is not only unlikely, it is preposterous.

That may seem incongruous or even contradictory after last month’s discussion of intimacy — knowing and responding to a partner’s wants, needs and expectations, lovers and beloveds — but I’m not altogether sure it is. You see, I still believe that in order for any relationship to be successful — satisfying to all parties on any one of a number of different levels — it must be everything I talked about last month and more. I have just come to understand that as much as we would like to believe that one supplier can or could meet all the needs of any one service dealer, the notion is not only unrealistic, it is functionally impossible.

No one supplier could do it because no one supplier could exist by supplying just one service dealer, and that’s what it would take.

Because each service dealer has different clientele — different brand preferences, different delivery criterion, different hours of operation and different stocking requirements — it just might take a host of different suppliers to meet or exceed all those varied expectations. And, because no two jobbers or warehouse operations are the same — because they are unlikely to have identical line cards, matching service delivery schedules, equal quality on the counter or the telephone, or uniformly compelling prices — it is just as unlikely that a “one size fits all” mentality when it comes to servicing the vast array of service dealers in any one community is going to work well or at all. Which leads us right back to last month’s topic, and whether you can have more than one “lover” and still consider yourself faithful.

You might find this notion humorous, but I don’t. Sharing anything can lead to jealousy, and jealousy can and often will destroy even the best of relationships. Jealousy clouds vision, obscures the truth and inhibits sound judgment. It creates doubt and veils the truth. But, worst of all, it destroys trust, and without trust, no relationship can survive.

What exactly does that mean? Perhaps it means a new level of honesty and awareness between your industry and mine. It means distribution and service sitting down together in order to achieve a deeper understanding of the relationships we share. It means a shared responsibility to explore and clearly redefine the rules of our relationship — on both sides of the parts counter — so that everyone understands the expectations and rewards, so that everyone understands exactly what is at stake. But, most of all, it means redefining the very nature of our relationship and by doing so, redefining success.