MANA the Matchmaker


So really, as a MANA rep member what has MANA done for you lately?

Well, you get the iToolbox e-mails, and with each month a new Agency Sales magazine arrives. Good stuff. Oh, and there are the legal resources, consulting services, contract guidelines, videos, webinars, educational programs and discount programs. And yeah, MANA is the driver in getting commission protection laws put in place. Maybe through MANA you have landed a line to represent every now and then?

So I guess with all of this available to us it is easy to justify investing about $300 a year for a … Read the rest

Get Away From Being Sales Focused — for a Moment


By the time you are reading this, Groundhog Day has likely already come and gone for this year. This somewhat unusual, yet arguably charming, “holiday” is an annual reminder that a season’s change is upcoming. Maybe spring will come sooner, maybe later? But the upcoming change is inevitable — and hopefully it is sooner.

Sometimes change is naturally accepted and sometimes not. If change happens to us, typically we get to work right away as we must adapt and survive. For manufacturers’ representatives, if we lose an employee, we get to work right away on finding a new one. Same … Read the rest

The Principal Is the Customer


“Exceed your customer’s expectations. If you do, they’ll come back over and over. Give them what they want — and a little more.” — Sam Walton

As unbridled entrepreneurs, manufacturers’ representatives naturally evaluate our business space to maximize our return on investment. We evaluate many areas to include the prospects at end user/OEMs, the effectiveness of our distributor/wholesaler networks, and the future with the principals we represent. We should not be surprised that each of these channel partners are evaluating us as well.

But an evaluation of the manufacturers’ representative is not typically a formal “review” type of process. However, … Read the rest

Beware of the Entrepreneur?


Most MANA manufacturers’ representatives pride themselves on being entrepreneurs. We start our businesses from scratch and create something out of nothing. Ideally we work to create an entity that can be perpetuated long after we are gone. If not, we at least create a means to support ourselves financially and provide a necessary service to the industry we serve. We are fortunate to have a partner like MANA that is committed to help us as we move through our careers.

Typically, however, the entrepreneurial spirit peaks at the beginning of an agency’s life. We decide things such as taking on … Read the rest

Make Your Own Rep Council


Goal for 2014: Organize/Attend a
Rep Council
Council of Reps

If you want to stir up the conversation amongst a group of representatives, ask their opinion as to whether Rep Councils are worth the time investment. Opinions on Rep Councils will vary from swearing by them to cursing at them — and everything in-between. With the intention of Rep Councils being to increase communication between the representative and their principal, how can this be?

The traditional setup of a Rep Council is as an in-person event between a principal and some subset of their current reps. There is an agenda … Read the rest

Moving Up To Plan B


A sluggishly rebounding economy is likely going to be the best thing to happen to my business for 2013. It could be for yours too. Seriously.

The “plan” since 2008 has been to survive. The prize for outlasting a recession is the impending boom of a recovery. It always happens that way — heck they teach it in schools. For us reps, we wouldn’t have to do much strategically — just hang in there and then get out of the way. The economy would be cranked up, employment would be soaring, and the deficit/budget would be at manageable levels. In … Read the rest

“The New Good ’ol Days”


2012 is here, and getting back to “the way things used to be” is just around the corner, right? I doubt it — and that is a good thing. Those of us still in business have successfully weaved through the challenges of our own cruel reality experience that could be called Survivor — Repdom Island. In our version no one has immunity, alliances are crucial but unreliable, and the opposing “tribe” is not necessarily visible. Sounds rough, and it is. But as fellow MANA board member Greg Bruno has passionately communicated, being an independent manufacturers’ representative is still an occupation … Read the rest

Are We Ready?


Ready or not, here comes 2011.

The mid-term elections are behind us, and hopefully our nation can move forward with our new leadership structure. Regardless, the economic experts are projecting that 2011 is the year before the year of recovery. You might say, “So, does this mean another year like 2010?” Statistically, probably so, but that is where the similarity ends. For many companies the strategy for 2010 was merely survival. The same can be said for employees. “Yeah, so?” For well over a year there has been very little transitional movement, likely due to fear of the unknown (and … Read the rest