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Multi brand paint shop vs a single brand carrier

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while, probably know that I really like comparing how car refinishing industry vary from region to region. It is fascinating how different the business models could be in an industry, where precise (color) match is the main target. What is even more fascinating that there is no right way to do business either. Let me share with you my observations how the paint supplying stores operate in different countries.

Even in the English speaking markets, the name describing automotive paint selling shop differ. Factor, jobber, “paint guy”, distributor, paint warehouse, are just some of the business names I’ve stumbled upon in my career.

Putting the names aside, the look and products assortment usually has a similar pattern. Paint mixing scheme(s) put in the very center of the whole store. Plus a range of clears, fillers, primers, thinners, non-paint consumables, including abrasives, polishing compounds, sealants, aerosols, tapes, and at least basic equipment, like spray guns and sanders. While the number of different auxiliary products brands may vary, what is the main characteristic of a business is whether it carries one or more car paint brands.

Multi-brand store

If you walk into a paint store and your eyes catch more than one mixing schemes from competitive paint brands, then this shop can be considered as multi-brand.  It is important to recognize that the store carrying brands of the same group can hardly be described as multi-brand. For example, if the shop owner has PPG and MaxMeyer mixing systems, he or she probably follows some sort of a corporate strategy in the market. These paint systems could be complimentary. However, if you see Glasurit and Sikkens products side-by-side, than it is a distinctive example of a multi-brand paint supplier.

Pros and cons of multi-brand paint shop

Let’s have a look into the advantages of having more than one paint brand on the shelves. Firstly, if you have a number of paint systems, you can “play” with the approvals, which a particular brand has for certain car manufacturers. If your key customers “require” this or that paint brand because, then you can offer what they require. No need for expensive and lengthy presentations and trials. “You want Spieshecker, here you are”.

Secondly, in reality all paint systems have their strong and weak sides. I mean ALL. For example, X brand may perfectly match Japanese vehicles, while the brand Y does the Americans really well. Having multiple paint brands in store allows a store owner to be flexible.

Thirdly, with multiple brands at your hands, you may cover different customers, based on their price sensitivity.  If a certain customer sprays old cars and have a lot of overall refinishing jobs, then a more economic paint may do the job. There is no need for a high-end, premium paint in this case.

Last, but not the least, the multi-brand store is truly independent business. The owner has more choices and freedom to steer his business towards more profitable solution.

If all the above sound too good to be true, I bring to your attention some drawbacks of having multiple paint brands in your store. The main disadvantage is that no paint producer will view you as 100% partner. There will be always some moaning involved. Usually paint companies will not bring you ready customers to serve, and technical and financial support will be limited.

Single brand shop

On the other side, a paint-supplying store with the only one paint brand (group) inside, can be described as a single brand shop. Often, this kind of business is called, unofficially, by the name of paint brand. Sikkens shop, Standox stocker, Axalta jobber, Glasurit guy, etc. Besides being identified as a famous brand, carrying a single paint system has also a number of benefits. Firstly, you enjoy a full support and area protection from the paint producer. Secondly, often a “mother” company brings you good customers to serve. Literally. Thirdly, stock management is much easier. Less stock, means less frozen money. Sounds great to me! Nevertheless, don’t jump into conclusion so fast. What if the idealistic relationship may stagger? You may loose a key supplier overnight. What if your preferred paint supplier is too expensive or weak in certain important aspects? What if your paint supplier decides to leave your market? Yes, it happened in the not-so-distant past. No jokes.

Conclusion

As you realized, both strategies have strong advantages and potentially dangerous disadvantages. I usually do not advocate for any particular way of doing business. Your decision though should be based solely on your own interests. Don’t be trapped by any sales manager, however capable he is. The managers come and go, while your business is here to stay…

 

Automotive Paint Supply Shop’s Alternative Paths

The best way to avoid business downfalls is to be proactive. It is just like with our health. Your doctor probably told you that it is much easier and cheaper to treat your body and mind as top priority than to deal with illnesses piled due to bad habits and negligence. Well, business health is no exemption. If you run a shop or a warehouse for automotive collision repair industry, this article is for you.

Threats of the industry

Paint supply in the automotive refinishing industry is a mature and saturated industry. In most of the parts of the world, it grows at a rather moderate pace, and, therefore, doing business becomes more and more difficult. Competition is very high and profits are shrinking. Additionally, international groups buy one shop after another. Consolidation is ruthless and imminent threat to the independent body and paint suppliers. In parallel, supplying automotive paint requires more investment in training, expensive equipment and fine-tuned stock management. Thus, regardless of what state your market is in now, it would be wise to safeguard your future by not putting all the eggs in the same basket. I strongly advice to broaden your products offering and enter one or more from the below mentioned industries.

Industrial paints

Probably the closest product range to automotive paints are the industrial paint systems. Usually the automotive coatings producers can supply mix systems for the light industry as well. Additionally, if you trade automotive paint, then it will not be a big issue to master the niceties of any industrial coating system. However, what is the target market for the industrial coatings? You will be pleasantly surprised how many potential customers are out there. Agricultural machinery, metal construction workshops, various machine shops, sign makers, contractors, you name it. Examples of such mixing systems are Selemix (PPG), Lechsys (Lechler), Ivat, Alcea, Rembrandtin (Helios) and many others. Imagine that with a good industrial mixing scheme you have a mini paints factory at your disposal. Just change binders…

Marine and yachting coatings

If you are lucky to live by the sea, ocean, river or a big lake, then there is a great chance to offer marine and yachting coatings. Whether it is a small fiberglass boat, sailing boat, commercial ship or a mega yacht, they must be protected, refurbished and maintained. The scope of the products include antifouling paints, epoxy primers, topcoats, cleaners, polishes and a great deal of the auxiliary products. Keep in mind that sometimes there is seasonality factor in this industry.

Furniture and wood coatings

It doesn’t matter which country you are in, there are always furniture factories somewhere close to you. Believe it or not, but wooden tables and chairs are painted in a similar way with the car. A painter needs abrasives, spray guns, masking tapes, personal protection products and coatings of course. Even if you decide not to invest in a stock of wood and furniture coatings, there is still a great number of consumables you could sell to this market.

Detailing products and car wash supplies

Detailing shops spring up like mushrooms after the rain all over the place. As people get more educated how to protect their vehicles’ appearance, the demand for the detailing products is growing. Among the products you probably already have on your shelves are polishing compounds, pads, microfiber wipes and polishing machines. Earn new customers by adding shampoos, dressings, washing machines and greater variety of the cleaning products, and you will see your sales growing from the completely different customers pool of hobbyist and professionals.

DIY and construction paints

I have seen many customers of mine, who grew up their range to a full size hardware store with paints, tools and accessories needed for any household. It is a big move, I must admit, because the whole philosophy of the store will must be altered. Selling automotive paints is primarily a B2B business model, while a hardware store carries a big variety of the goods aimed to the non-professional customers or B2C. It is very important to understand the difference. On the other hand, if the collision repair business is declining, then it is a one-way road to enlarge your offerings and target much bigger customer base.

Conclusion

I strongly believe that any entrepreneur should keep his or her eyes open for the new opportunities. The above-mentioned list is not an exhaustive one, of course. There could be many more other related or completely unrelated industries one could consider. The main takeaway from this humble article is that it is much better to stay tuned for an additional revenue, and, who knows, it may turn out a saving vest in difficult times.

8 proven ways to increase sales in a car body and paint supply store. Number 5 is my favorite.

8 proven ways to increase sales in a car body and paint supply store. Number 5 is my favorite.

If you read this article, probably you are an owner or a manager in business, which supplies bodyshops with paint and all necessary consumables for the craft. In the beginning of each year we tend to make plans, put targets and allocate budgets. I do as well. Probably one of the key figures in this planning would be the expected sales growth. Whether you set a target in percentage of growth or in sales revenue figures, it must be backed with deep-laid plan how to get there. Below, I would like to share with you a few time-tested ways how to achieve your business targets in 2017.


prospects search

  1. Spend at least 2 hours per week by calling, emailing or visiting new prospects. I can bet you work long hours, but without organized, purposeful actions for new customers’ acquisition, your business will stagnate. It is imperative to find time for leads generation every single week. Even if you fill that your business is booming, do not lay back, because customers’ loyalty is not guaranteed or everlasting.

 

  1. Similarly, finding new markets for the products you sell will undoubtedly broaden your business horizons. Differentiate your customer base by targeting such potential customers as detailers, yacht and boat manufacturers and repairers, furniture producers, aerography artists. Take time to learn their needs and products they use, and then create a compelling offer based on the product portfolio you already trade. You will be surprised how many industries use the materials you have on your shop’s shelves already.

 

  1. Work on “digital word of mouth”. Let me explain what I mean. We’ve heard about the importance of word of mouth as a free and effective way to promote any kind of business. Happy customer will tell about your great service and products to about 3 or 4 other people (while unhappy one would talk to 10 people minimum). In the era of multiple communication channels, with social networks and various messengers, relying only on verbal referrals would be a huge mistake. If you have happy customers (and you better have), for example, a painter or bodyshop owner, then ask him to make a post on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. Share or re-tweet it multiple times. Follow who liked your shared messages, and, chances are that you may find new sales leads without much effort.

 

  1. Hire a sales person. Many smaller stores do not actually have a sales person. The owner is a sales man, you may say. Yes he is, but also the business owner work as an accountant, purchasing manager, colorist and as delivery person. Hiring a skilled salesman is not an expense, but an investment. Your first employee ever should be a sales guy. Period.

 

  1. Start a blog. Have you heard about inbound marketing? Inbound marketing includes strategies for connecting with existing and potential customers by providing them with useful for them information. If you start a blog, not only it will boost your website’s rating (I hope you have a website, of course) for search engines, but also attract potential customers, who are starving for compelling content on the web. Creating quality content is not easy, and you should work hard to improve your writing skills, but payoff will exceed your expectations. For the beginning, start up as industry content curator. In other words, if you find interesting piece of information about car refinishing business, new products or events, share this information with your readers (invite your existing customers to follow your blog for a start). By starting a blog, you will build a reputation of an expert in your industry. And guess from whom people prefer to buy products from, especially in B2B markets, like ours?

 

  1. Create customers incentive and loyalty program. If you think that loyalty programs are only good for airlines or big supermarket chains, it is a mistake. Personally I saw various successful examples applied to our industry. One of the easy ways is to agree with the particular customer on turnover target (could be annual, quarterly etc), when, if achieved, the customer will have a bonus in cash, discounts or products free of charge. Another great example is to offer to the top performing customers a free trip for holidays or to an important industry event. One of my colleagues and a good friend has been arranging trips with his best customers to SEMA show in Las Vegas. I can bet such a trip will be unforgettable and build a strong bond between supplier and his customers.

 

  1. Advertise on Facebook. All types of advertising have as objective an increase in sales for the business. However, not all advertising means are equal. Effectiveness of an advertising campaign depends on how precisely the message is delivered to the target group. Facebook Ads has no rivals in accuracy. So, if you are a factor or jobber in a given area of, let’s say Chicago or Cardiff, Facebook can provide you with advertising solution for audience in your area, age group, based on interaction with your page and even behaviors and interests. I have seen numerous examples of paint supply stores, who found customers for their products on Facebook. It works!

 

  1. Build email database and launch a newsletter. Email is the most effective method to deliver any message in B2B markets. Email marketing is cost effective workhorse of advertising, which still outperforms any of social networks. No business can afford ignoring the importance of collecting customers and prospects emails, and creating a structured, properly segmented email database. Unfortunately many of paint suppliers in collision repair industry neglect the potential benefits of email as a channel to grow sales. Big mistake! In fact, nowadays it is very easy to launch regular newsletter or email campaign. Providers of email marketing services like Mailchimp or Aweber make the chore of creating newsletters and promotional emails distribution, easy and intelligent.

 

By all means I do not claim the exclusivity of the above list. Substantially there are many ways to drive sales up. My primary target in this article was to draw your attention that in order to prosper, automotive paint supplier should open his mind to new, perhaps unconventional moves. As Richard Branson said: “Listen. Take the best. Leave the rest.”

 

What traits that successful car paint store owners have in common?

By Alexander Aslamazis

I am lucky with my job. I will never stop repeating this. Travelling is a big part of my business, while meeting new people in different countries is probably the best part of business travelling. Without a doubt, I primarily get in touch with people from our trade: car paint experts, manufacturers, body and paint shop owners, paint sprayers, and, of course, jobbers (or else called factors, paint suppliers or simply “paint guys”). It is difficult to underestimate the importance of paint retail shop. In fact, every body shop has one key supplier, whose role is to satisfy needs for paint and consumables without interruptions.

As in all businesses, you can identify the jobbers, who are above average, very successful and standing out of the crowd. After twelve years on the road, visiting paint supplies stores and acquainting their owners and managers, I realized that the top of them have some traits and characteristics in common. Apparently, I have distinguished 8 traits, which best performing traders have.

success loading

  1. Successful jobbers really love what they do. Trust me, to be successful in our industry without enjoying paint smell and shiny appearance of newly refinished vehicles is not possible. It must be in your blood.
  2. Successful jobbers are experts in color matching. Sometime ago I wrote an article in Etalon Refinish Blog on this subject. The absolute majority of all car body professionals consider poor color matching their biggest problem. This is why giving a solution for difficult-to-match colors is vital problem to be solved by the paint suppliers, which defines success.
  3. Successful jobbers know in depth all the products he or she has on their shelves. Profound knowledge of every brand and material, its competitive advantages, as well as the capacity to communicate this knowledge to customers, define prosperous paint and body supplies professionals.
  4. Successful jobbers are early adopters of industry’s novelties. They embrace new technology before most of their peers do. Whether it is about new tool, material or concept, successful paint supply business will always find space in his shop for it. The same applies to newcomers, fresh and innovative, but unknown brands.
  5. Successful jobbers are likeable. As I read in a recent article in “Entrepreneur” magazine, being likeable is under your control, and it is a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ). Studies revealed that top adjectives, which describe likeable person, are sincerity, transparency, and capacity for understanding.
  6. Successful jobbers don’t spend all their time in their shop. Let’s put it straight, you can not understand the needs of your customer without spending time in a bodyshop.
  7. Successful jobbers always invest in stock. Without a doubt, having your warehouse full is a key for success. Even if you have some minor products missing, you are opening doors to your competitors. Availability of products is crucial.
  8. Successful jobbers never stop learning. The biggest mistake one can make is to think that he knows everything. Car refinishing industry develops very fast. New paint systems, spraying equipment, tools and application methods appear all the times. Believe me, old training certificates and years of experience are not enough to succeed today. Visit seminars, trainings, exhibitions and trade shows. Be ahead of your competition by continuous self-education.

Certainly, this list is not exclusive. And what do you think? What are the traits of successful paint supplier?

shiny car

 

 

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