Overlooked or Overbooked?
The subject of manufacturer support has been tackled in the past, but sadly, it seems little has changed when it comes to specialty dealers’ experiences with manufacturer support, especially in the digital imaging market. Although support—for product, advertising, education, etc.—is clearly important to retailers and getting it can be hit or miss. Store size and location appear to be one of the defining factors as to whether or not a retailer is on a manufacturer’s radar.
Like many retailers, Spectrum Photo owner Grant P. Hatch would like more help. “If I get more support, the manufacturers get more of my business,” he admits. “But it also helps me be more in tune with their product and do a better job selling it. As a small retailer with two stores in New Hampshire, we don’t command the most attention because we’re not doing as big a volume as some of the city stores. Yet that’s not to say we don’t rival the city stores. In fact, my two stores have more product, up-to-date equipment and newer renovations than most city stores. People are often very surprised,” he states.
Grant’s Wolfeboro store is in a summer resort area that caters to a wealthy clientele, while his North Conway store in the White Mountains is a year-round resort area. “It’s still a town, not a city, but it’s in an outlet area; we have Wal-Mart, Staples and every kind of drug store you can think of. We compete favorably with all types of stores,” states Grant. How does he do it? “I make sure all of my staff is registered to become a CPC (certified photographic consultant), which is administered by PMA. They recently came up with a new program that stipulates if you have one CPC on staff at all times of operation, you qualify as a photo expert center. They have several Web sites where consumers type in a zip code that lists everyone, including Rite-Aid, etc., but we top the list as a photo expert center.”