Your Rep is your friend
No, really. I don't think you all realize the importance and VALUE that sales reps bring to your business.
I will say this, there are some reps who are sales driven and don't give a you-know-what-about you and your business.
Let me give you some backstory, I have worked with various manufacturers and I have worked with many many many sales reps over the years.
I have found that sales reps who represent boutique distributors are, hands down, the best peeps.
3 Types of Reps:
1- Manufacturer's Rep.
These are the people who represent one single brand. They work directly with the manufacturer and only sell what that manufacturer makes.
Pro's: They know everything there is to know about that particular brand, vs distributors reps who need to know about several brands.
Con's: They only represent one brand so they tend to be a little more aggressive with trying to get you to buy in even if the brand is not "for you".
2- Big-box Distributors Reps.
These are the reps who work for the bigger distributors (think cosmo prof, salon centric).
If I am being honest, I have never even met my reps from big box distributors since I moved locations 2 years ago.
The truth is, I stopped supporting big-box any-thing in this industry years ago. More on that later.
Big box distributors typically represent what I call, the dinosaur brands, in our industry.
Pro's: They carry most of the most popular brands and have local stores all over.
Con's: Most of the popular big brands don't support the industry as a whole PLUS these brands are typically also available in Target, Ulta, Sephora etc...where clients can easily purchase retail instead of from your shelves.
3- Boutique Distributor Reps.
These reps work for boutique distributors, companies that are typically small business-family owned. They represent more of the boutique product and color lines in our industry. Most Boutique distributor reps typically represent a variety of brands, from smaller brands to larger ones and these are the reps who, I have found, really care about who they are serving.
Pro's: Carry lines that are boutique and smaller. Less diversion. Typically have a GREAT relationship with their clients and offer only what they think will work for your space.
Con's: May carry lines you've never heard of, which in my opinion isn't a con, but to some of you it may be. Also, they don't typically have stores in every city.
YOUR REP IS YOUR FRIEND!
IT took me a long time to realize that the rep's that work with me are really trying to help me out. Working with several brands, I've had the pleasure of doing ride-alongs with reps over the years, and what I have found is that hairdressers, some of us, are really RUDE to these people. Like, embarrassingly rude. So today, I want to remind you all on why these rep's are our friends and we don't have to be rude and ignore them. They have a lot more to offer than just selling you shampoo and color. I'll go in detail, below.
1. THEY ARE A WALKING ENCYCLOPEDIA IN YOUR AREA
Think about it this way, your sales reps represent your territory. This means they know just about every salon and stylist in your area. They know what's going on, who's going where, what salons are opening, hiring, closing and they even know alllll the tea. They have their finger on the pulse of your territory. I have had sales reps give me ideas for promos or services that other salons are doing successfully and I've incorporated them into my space- with major success. They KNOW your area and the stylists in it. You might want to be their friend, guys, because if you are looking to fill your salon, hire staff or and assistant, these people can HELP YOU with first hand recommendations.
2. NEWEST PRODUCTS AND TOOLS
Most reps, esp boutique reps, have access to the newest brands and newest tools in our industry and most of the time, they will happily sample you anything you want to try. I've had reps leave me with blow-dryers and flat irons for a week for me to try before I buy. The reps know of all the new brands, especially boutique ones and can get these products in your hands ASAP. This is an ever-evolving industry we are in and sometimes it's difficult to keep up with what's new. Our reps can fill us in on what's new and coming so we're ahead of the game!
3. ACCESS TO EDUCATION
Any brand that your rep has access to, they have education for. You all know that I am a HUGE Fan of any and all education, and these reps have access to it allllll. Even if its a class for a brand you don't use, could you learn something new from attending a class? YES! Plus, classes that are offered through distributors are typically inexpensive and happen frequently. If you love education, make sure your friends with your rep so that you can be first to know about upcoming classes.
5. DIRECT ACCESS TO BRANDS
This is especially true for boutique distributors who represent boutique brands. You all know how difficult it is to get a question about an ingredient answered with big-box brands. Your rep for a boutique distributor typically has direct access to these brands and can get your question answered within minutes. Plus, with direct access to these brands, they can also get you in with being a brand ambassador or educator, as well.
6. THEY HELP WITH INVENTORY
I have had reps who come in while I am working and they will go through my color cabinet and order what I am low on. They will organize my retail shelfs and order what I am low on. They are like an assistant, without being an assistant. Do you know how nice it is to not have to worry about putting in an order or going to a store on mid ay off to stock up? It saves me time so I can focus on my clients, BTC.
7. BONUS POINTS
Most of the time, when you work with your rep there are so many incentives they offer. Points for back bar, retail contest, trips, free educational events and so much more. You have to remember, they work with manufacturers directly and often times will HOOK you UPPP especially if you have a great relationship with them. I have gotten so much free stuff from reps over the years...it's awesome.
To close this out, I want to reiterate something. I get it. Not all reps are phenomenal, but at the end of the day, the good ones especially, are there to HELP you and your business succeed. The good ones will offer you only lines that they think will work in your space. The good ones will support you and hook you up with education, products and resources.
Don't sleep on your reps guys, and stop being rude to them. I've heard stylists say "oh, reps are just in it to make money".
Well, at the end of the day, we all have to make money to survive. The good reps aren't in it just for the money, because let me tell you, from what I've seen, it's not like being a sales rep is a super lucrative gig. It's hard work dealing with hairdressers, lol, and they are just trying to help. You do good, they do good.
Hope this was a little reminder on why it's important to be nicer to your reps. They do more than just sell shampoo and color and they can help you in soooooo many ways!