Connecting Manufacturers and Reps


“Is this potential new principal good for my agency?”

This question reaches far beyond ex­isting business in the territory or a hot new product that fills a gap on your line card. As a rep firm looks at a new line, or as a principal looks at a new rep firm, both are preparing to make a substantial investment of time and effort. Other than start-ups, most reps are busy with the lines they already have, so the real ques­tion is “Will this be the best, most profitable use of my time?”

Internally, our firm has two forms of checklists. … Read the rest

Staying Alive


The hit song “Staying Alive” keeps playing in my head as I work my way through 2009. As the economy continues its daily challenges and business remains tougher to come by, I know I’m not alone in this feeling.

I and the other reps I know are working harder than ever at communicating with our principals, making sales calls and writing quotes. The results, however, aren’t as rewarding as in the past as many jobs get tabled or otherwise canceled. It’s tough to put the image of spinning our wheels out of my head.

If I’ve learned anything through these … Read the rest

Succession Planning — Passing the Baton


Eventually, every rep firm owner will leave the business. A well-thought-out succession plan is essential to all rep agencies no matter what their size and structure. If no planning is done, lawyers and the government will quickly take control. But if an agent plans an orderly transfer, he or she can reduce legal conflicts and required taxes, pull maximum personal financial returns, and see the business prosper and grow in the hands of chosen successors.

Unfortunately, as good as our members are at starting and growing businesses, I hear rep after rep dismiss the thought of succession planning as ‘not … Read the rest

Better Than a Smoke Signal


Since the invention of the telegraph in 1840, the velocity and density of communication has grown exponentially. While the telephone was a step forward, one should remember that teletype machines were still state-of-the-art during the ’60s and ’70s. Fax machines did not become a commonplace tool until the late ’80s. E-mail went mainstream during the mid to late ’90s. While today’s communication tools are now commonplace, it is only recently that we have arrived at the Golden Age of Communication.

Given the present (and ever-increasing) personal communication options, why then is the most common question that I receive from reps … Read the rest