Getting the Goods on Buying Groups
DAVE WORKMAN: The biggest issues, generically speaking, for buying groups is the need to define themselves with respect to their membership and to manufacturers. The industry is definitely changing and groups have to make sure they change with it. There are some very successful examples of groups who have tuned into their constituents’ needs and have been successful. It’s easy for groups to tread on the way they used to do things and hope it will be a successful business model carrying forward, but the industry is changing. Manufacturers want to do business with buying groups but also believe that groups need relevance to them and to the membership. There isn’t any lack of interest on the part of groups, but there’s more challenging of the group to be fresher and more current.
RICK BELLOWS: Our biggest challenges continue to be keeping our dealers competitive and providing support services in marketing and advertising. The biggest issue we have is getting more people in the front door. That’s our focus. We do a scheduled six circulars a year, plus two to three individual vendor circulars a year, and we also support and drive private sales for our members, as well as direct mail, ROP advertising and TV and radio—we’ve stepped up all the print efforts this year.
MEL HUNGER: Well, we’re not just a buying group. We’re a merchandising group. We have warehousing; we do our own purchasing. We’re a different animal. For those reasons, we’ve been able to progress with vendors into different categories of recognition than you might consider a normal buying group to fall under. They look to us as a total entity rather than as individual members that collectively belong to a group. And when you’re looked at as a totality that does its own promoting, merchandising, training and has its own people going out to the stores, we’re viewed in a totally different light. Our biggest issue right now is going to the next level, and we have to make sure we have all our ‘i’s dotted and our ‘t’s crossed, and just keep on growing in the eyes of those vendors so that we’re a good partner to them and they are to us.