How a Home Improvement Distributor is Building B2B Sales

A home improvement supplier distributes its products to 10,000 independent retailers throughout North America.

Karl Peterson has been president of that company for the past three years. The American retail market for home improvement is huge, he says, “and just getting bigger.”

But it is also highly competitive. Mr. Peterson’s customers are mostly small operators who have no other store or business to fall back. If they fail to adapt successfully to changes brought about by new technologies. And pricing pressures from Home Depot, Lowe’s, and others.

He says his firm must work continuously to help them improve their sales performance so they can remain viable businesses. And continue as suppliers of choice for his company.

One way it does this is through training. Every supplier employee is involved in retail account management—on the road or at the home office. To complete an 8-hour training session on how to sell, Mr. Peterson says. The company also works with retailers’ suppliers of choice to provide customized training programs. That focus on specific product lines and cross-selling opportunities among them.

He adds that the company has introduced a 1,000-page store merchandising manual that provides retailers with updated information on display techniques. Signs, and other visual aids to help make their stores more appealing.

Factors which are needed in home improvement

There are many factors that are needed in home improvement. One is the foundation; another is the roof and chimney. Another factor that is important for home improvement would be the doors and windows. Lastly, another important factor is the stairs.

1. Foundation-

Without a sturdy foundation, any house may be damaged. If the foundation is not strong enough your whole house could collapse and fall apart.

2. Roof and Chimney-

A roof and chimney play a very important role in protecting people from harmful weather conditions such as the sun. Wind, and rain. If you do not have a roof then there is no protection from the outside elements. Which eventually leads to catching on fire.

3. Doors and windows-

Without doors or windows, it would be impossible to get into your own home, therefore, creating an unsafe living environment. This also means that if someone wanted to break into your home. They can just open the door and waltz right in.

4. Stairs-

if you have stairs, it means that people are able to get up and downstairs with ease which is very important. When making a house handicap accessible. If there are no stairs than people may not be able to move around easily within their house.

Karl Peterson recently spoke with SN recently about how his company makes the connection between manufacturers’ products. And retailers’ customers to drive sales productivity. Here are his comments, edited for clarity and length.

Supplier Opportunities

I think every supplier has its own unique opportunities in terms of how it can help a retailer grow revenue or improve gross margins—by improving display techniques in the store, increasing sell-through in the store, by training employees on how to put merchandise in customers’ hands [and] by training employees on how to sell multiple products from various manufacturers. Those are all opportunities that we look at when we go in and meet with retailers.

We talk about that, typically, in the context of a sales meeting—about things suppliers can do to help them increase their revenue or improve gross margins. Whether it’s our company … or some other supplier who has an over-the-counter (OTC) product line targeted toward budget-conscious consumers, what they need to know is where those budgets are being allocated within the store for their category. And then, if there are ways, they can better merchandise their product along with another one of our suppliers’ products so they become more attractive to the consumer … that’s how you can help retailers increase their revenue or improve gross margins.

Home Improvement Distributor

Karl Peterson is the president of Western Springs, Ill.-based The Great Indoors (asi/56941), a home improvement distributor established in 1991. Mr. Peterson has worked at The Great Indoors since 1997 and was appointed to his current position in 2014.

The Great Indoors sources and distributes more than 2,500 products across several product categories—from appliances. And bath to lighting and outdoor living. The company’s private-brand portfolio includes such brands as First Impressions (bath, shower doors). TK Classics (faucets, sinks), Decor Therapy (paint). And LaCornue (cooktops).

Under Mr. Peterson’s leadership, The Great Indoors has grown sales by more than 100 percent in the past three years. For the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2016, sales were up 18 percent overall compared with the previous year. During that period, same-store sales increased 6 percent.

Woods Hardware

Mr. Peterson is known throughout our industry for being truly one of the nicest human beings you could ever meet.” Said Andy Gruenberg. President of Woods Hardware. “He never hesitates to take his time to speak with people or to help them out in some way.

On how he builds relationships with The Great Indoors’ customers:

I think it’s very important that we go visit our customers whenever they need us—that we seek them out and make sure we let them know when we’re going to be there, why we’re going to be there and what kind of value-added activities we can do when we get there or at their location. That’s a big part of what makes The Great Indoors unique and different from other retailers.

I think we’re more of a consulting group than we are just a typical rep or anything like that. We don’t just show up and drop some product off and leave. We want to be present for our customers so we can better understand their needs and help them address their needs by reaching out to other suppliers on their behalf—without even having to say it directly—and letting them do the heavy lifting with those suppliers.

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