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Many (if not most) rep agencies started out as one-person rep firms. Starting and growing sales, increasing your customer base and adding new lines can be very exciting times. Often the most difficult thing for the new “one-person” firm to do, is to finally jump in — to make the difficult decision to just do it. All of the successful reps that have made this choice, say to me: “Gee, I wish I had done this years earlier!”

One-person reps have to do it all, thus quite literally earning the name “ultra multitaskers.” They are able to balance and juggle all aspects of running a professional manufacturers’ representative firm. They are pros at selling, managing principal relationships, tracking the financials, reporting, marketing the rep firm, and essentially, at satisfying everyone’s needs.

As success continues, the one-person rep firm faces many growth-related decisions. As they add new lines and new customers, their company grows and becomes more profitable. They then have to decide: Do I need to hire another person? Do I want to hire another person? Should I hire an inside sales/support person? Should I hire an outside salesperson (employee vs. 1099)? Should I consider a soft merge with another small rep company? Am I meeting the demands of my customers and satisfactorily growing sales for my principals?

One-person reps are great at time management. The best reps allow for and schedule in time to educate themselves, not only about the products they sell, but also on how to manage and run a successful and professional agency. Even though they are a one person company, they still do strategic and business planning, and know the critical importance of succession planning. (Succession planning is extremely difficult for the one-person rep firm, by the way.)

MANA can help with all needs and challenges faced by both one-person rep firms and large multi-office agencies. In addition to one-on-one support, we offer special reports, seminars, conferences and a wealth of information (on our website) to assist you. Please call on us to help you create even greater business success.

Good luck and good selling.

What Makes the Single-Person Agency a Challenge?

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Single-person rep agencies face some unique challenges. A check of the MANA membership shows that one-person rep agencies make up just a little over 20 percent of the total. One in five MANA rep businesses is a single-person operation.

A further analysis of the data shows that about 75 percent of these established their businesses in 2006 or later. In other words, they are start-ups, and start-ups by nature tend to be small. Their big challenge is surviving the first few years. The revenues tend to be small and in the first year don’t come close to covering expenses.

They … Read the rest

One-Person Rep Firms — the Ultra Multitaskers

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Reps from single-person agencies certainly have more than enough challenges to overcome while working their way through to personal and business success. Whether it’s competing against larger, multi-person operations, the constant need to attract more quality lines or simply the ability to manage time more efficiently, the single-person operation has a lot to contend with.

Over the course of many interviews with MANA members throughout the country, a variety of concerns rise to the top. There does, however, appear to be some consistency in the greater challenges that each has to overcome. Here are some of the top challenges.

Time Read the rest

The Decision to Eliminate Lines Freed Up Valuable Sales Resources for One Rep Firm

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In a move viewed as welcome by some and unusual by others, long-time MANA member Nelson & Associates, Santa Fe Springs, California, announced earlier this year it was ending its relationships with several manufacturers and focusing its efforts on working with eight remaining “premier” suppliers. According to the rep firm, this was done as a result of industry feedback with the goal of “dramatically increasing customer service, end-user activity, specification and demand creation.”

The manufacturers that Nelson will continue working with are: Alcan, Ferraz Shawmut, Hoffman Enclosures, Inc., Panduit, Encore Wire, Generac, JM Eagle and Wheatland Tube Company.

Manufacturers with … Read the rest

Legal Aspects of Buying or Selling a Rep Firm — Part One

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This article, presented in a two-part series, is intended to provide a summary roadmap of the issues, steps and mechanics involved in the purchase or sale of a sales representative agency. Its purpose is to assist the reader in recognizing and addressing the areas of concern which arise in almost every transaction.

Letter of Intent

Most transactions begin with a so-called “letter of intent.” The purpose of the letter of intent is to set out the basic business terms of the deal, such as whether it will be a sale of stock or assets, the purchase price, and how and … Read the rest

The Source of Your Obstacles Isn’t Your Customer — It’s Actually You

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I just received an e-mail from a frustrated salesperson. His problem? He found it extremely difficult to “pick up the phone and call a prospect.” Ruminating in the e-mail, he shared this thought: “I think part of my problem is I don’t like telemarketers. I always thought to myself, ‘If I want something, I’ll call you. Leave me alone!’”

It is easy for us, on the outside, to see the root of his problem. He doesn’t like telemarketers. He projected that attitude onto his customers, assuming that they thought just like him. Since he didn’t like telemarketers, his customers must … Read the rest

How to Maintain Your Key Accounts

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For many salespeople, one single account provides as much as 30 percent of their total personal sales volume — a statistic that keeps many of us up at night!

But instead of causing you stress, it ought to be telling you something important about the amount of time you should be putting into managing your current customer list. Managing your relationships with your existing accounts is one of the most essential tasks you should be performing every day.

Key and strategic customers have unique requirements that the best salespeople monitor regularly and seek to fulfill. You can’t just assume that … Read the rest

E-Mail Autopilot

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Before thinking about how to compose an effective e-mail, it’s critical to think about whether e-mail is the right vehicle for the communication in the first place.

E-mail has become such an integral part of our lives that many of us check it as soon as we get up in the morning, before we reach our destination in the airplane, before we go to bed at night. But the “e” in e-mail means “electronic” not “everything,” so consider the following before going on “e-mail autopilot.”

E-mail is an effective communications vehicle when:

  • Simply downloading and uploading information.

E-mail is the … Read the rest

Communication — One Size Doesn’t Always Fit All

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We recently asked one manufacturer what method he preferred when it comes to having his reps communicate with him and he surprised us with an answer similar to “no one size fits all.”

“It depends upon a number of factors, not the least of which is the rep himself,” he responded. “Here’s my reasoning — not all reps, all territories or customers are the same. As a result, we don’t have to be communicated with in the same manner. Let’s assume for a moment that all of our reps are ones that we want to work with long-term. Now let’s … Read the rest

Business Tools for Your Office

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Earlier this year, while in attendance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I found some particularly useful business tools amidst all the consumer gadgets that you can use to increase your competitive advantage in business. You’ll be able to read about them here and, through the wonders of technology, watch some videos of them as well — but more on that later.

DYMO File to Organize Your Office

If your office is like that of most small businesses, you probably have a lot of paper that needs to be organized. Even with the much-touted “paperless office” talk of … Read the rest

Worrying About Retirement? A 412(i) May Be the Answer

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Perhaps you’re like many small business owners who are nearing retirement and wondering how you’re going to get enough money into your 401(k) so you can actually afford to retire. A few years ago you didn’t have this dilemma, because your portfolio was looking great. But today, it’s a different story. Now that retirement is less than 10 years away, you may be getting a little worried.

Or perhaps, despite your best intentions, you neglected to save very much, if at all, for your retirement over the years. In the midst of growing your business, you also had to buy … Read the rest