July 21, 2020

What? You Don’t Carry the Product I Need? Who Can I Call?

By Paul Bieber

How many times have you received a call or an email request for a glass product you don’t carry? After all, no glass shop can carry every wonderful product our industry has created. You have set your shop up for small- and medium-sized storefronts and residential work. But you just received a request to install bullet-resistant glass in your local high school.

You remember the last time you did BR glass, when you broke one lite, and by the time you paid the freight and the cost of the replacement, you ate up the full margin on the glass. So, you told them to call ABC Glass, because you know they do it. Lo and behold, they take the order, install it and then get the school district contract for next year.

What are you going to do? Cry in your beer? Start installing BR glass? But what about the next product you don’t carry? These thoughts can keep a glass shop owner awake for many a night.

Here’s what you do. Open this month’s USGlass and look at all the products being advertised or mentioned in stories. Pick two or three products that do sell in your area. Call the vendor and ask them to refer you to three locations that do carry the product that are near you. Call each one and see if they will enter in a product sharing program with you. If you recommend a customer to them and they close the deal, then you get 10%. Or maybe more. When a request for the product line comes to you, tell your customer you will have an expert call them and take care of the order.

When you cut the deal with the outside vendor, offer to help them with your expertise. You specialize in residential work and the other specializes in commercial. Now they can call you to do their work as well.

Suddenly you have a new relationship that can help your bottom line. It is tough to put this into a contractual basis as one small job is not worth formalizing something. But if the job is healthy, say over $5K, then you would want to get a confirming letter from the vendor that you are to receive a certain amount of money when they get paid, but not later than 60 days.

Set this up with two product lines and two vendors now. Wait a couple of months to see how this plays out and then add two more. You’ll find that one vendor a year will drop you or break the deal; live with it. But you may be able to pick up that business on your own if you see it would be profitable for you.

Never, ever, say to a customer that you don’t do something. Get details and explain that a cooperating, fully knowledgeable partner will call them ASAP.

Good luck.