In the beginning, many buyers are looking for what they believe is the best deal, but that’s the wrong approach if you want a long-term, fruitful relationship with your distributor. A profitable long-term relationship needs to start with trust, not the lowest price. When is the last time you — or anyone else — got more for less?The distributor, in many cases, makes his money only once with the buyer, but then he’s expected to take care of that customer for the life of the equipment. If you think about it, that’s more than a little unfair. The laundry industry is more than washers and dryers, so if you’re a laundry owner reading this, I’m asking you to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Do I have a good relationship with my distributor?” If you look at a laundry and see several different brands of equipment, that’s probably because the owner doesn’t have a profitable relationship with a distributor.The laundry industry can be very profitable, but a lot goes into making that a reality, and if you’re doing it right, it’s likely because you’re working with a specific distributor and you’re helping each other grow. I’m involved in selling laundries weekly, and many have several different brands of machines because the owners were price shoppers. That’s OK if that’s what you want, but it’s a bit penny-wise and dollar-foolish. You see, nobody — and I do mean nobody — will be able to stand with you in the long term if you are squeezing the pineapple dry when you purchase products from distributors.Surely the light must have gone on at some point if you are reading this and realized that I’m talking about you. Most laundries are mismanaged — or not managed at all — because the operators have a “me” mentality. Distributors leave these owners alone because the owners have branded themselves as “me” buyers.Operators who realize the importance of a seasoned and experienced distributor will allow a true relationship to develop, and they’ll pay for the advice and consultation needed to help build a business. When this is the case, you’ll also find that when it comes time to sell your laundry, it’ll be worth much more money.If you don’t care about anyone but yourself, then you’ll find yourself struggling to make ends meet, nobody will want to help you, and you’ll scratch your head and wonder why.Look at it this way: If you needed brain surgery, would you go to the hospital and say, “Give me the best price, and by the way, experience doesn’t matter?” Most people won’t put a price on their life, and their business falls very close to this as well. If you disagree with me, then you’re someone who can’t be helped. You might consider doing yourself a favor and getting out of the laundry business.It’s critical in the beginning to seek out a distributor that you can work with. Then map out your strategy together and move forward together, working toward your goals and objectives to make your laundry the best it can be.You would never operate on yourself, and likewise, you shouldn’t operate your business without the help of a trusted distributor. In the end, it’s always best to work with a team, because there’s strength in numbers.I wish you success and never less!Robert Renteria will be guest speaker for the Illinois Hispanic Heritage Reception in September at the Thompson Center State Building in Chicago. At the event, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White will present an award to Renteria for his achievement as a Hispanic author.