It amazes me that Appliance Manufacturers and their leadership teams have failed to partner with their authorized service companies to promote new product sales. Consumers are better educated, more skeptical and have access to more information than ever before. They know sales people are going to lead them to whatever product is most profitable to the store they work for. Consumers most the time walk in the store knowing what they are going to buy. They are armed with information than the salesperson has and in all honesty, they don’t even need a salesperson ,they just need someone to process the order. But they do talk to a company before making these buying decisions. They talk to the Appliance Service company that either gave them the bad news about their existing appliance or they call the company they trust if they are just buying new without an old appliance breaking down.
This is what I just don’t understand. An appliance manufacturer could get such a leg up on their competition if they worked with their authorized service providers in acquiring new product sales. They could provide a referral spiff, a special discount that only authorized service providers could give away to their customers or a combination of both. I will tell you that small business owners all have a natural survival instinct. They may make some poor business decisions but they all know that their survival is key to their lives and they will make sure that happens. If that means referring a company that treats them fairly over a company that does not, regardless of what product is better, they are going to refer the company that takes care of them. And let’s be honest, all brands today have their own set of issues. The days of mass produced appliances lasting 30 years is a thing of the past. With all the ingenuity, innovation and amazing features, longevity is not at the top of the list.
Manufacturers know that they have to build products that last long enough that the brand is not ruined but also not too long or customers won’t be buying new. It is a tricky equation that they deal with. The factor they don’t take into consideration is that if a manufacturer is not a “friend” to the service providers, the service providers are going to do one of two things; 1) Refer another brand instead for replacement or 2) Bad mouth their brand. Both options usually end in the same result, the consumer buys another brand.
Also, for domestic brands the battle for new product sales seems to be a very tough battle. Sales floors are being filled up with imported brands and brands that are “younger” than your traditional brands. I was talking with a colleague the other day and they asked me about “Sears & Kenmore” my response “Sears and Kenmore are for old people.” That was a joking response, but there is a lot of truth to it. Brands like LG & Samsung are brands that I have grown up with. At age 32 I look around and see that my flat screen, Blue Ray player, monitor, cell phone, etc are made by these companies, so why wouldn’t I buy a refrigerator made by one of these companies? The simple response is that I would and many in my generation (25-40) would and do as well.
So, to conclude this rambling, I guess my point is that with all the change in the Appliance Retail and Service industries we are still at the same place we were at 20 years ago. Domestic Appliance Manufacturers are still fighting with Service Providers, and while this is has been happening, new “cool” manufacturers are sweeping in, gaining market share and brand loyalty from customers and service providers. And just think, maybe the market wouldn’t have been so easy to infiltrate if just one CEO, President or high level executive would have said “Instead of fighting with these service providers, why don’t we work with them and work TOGETHER to retain our mutual customers.” Hey, it could happen..