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Finding the Right Distributor

Robert J. Renteria |

I get calls from coin laundry owners from across the United States asking me for advice on choosing the right distributor — one they can trust. This is a very sensitive question, and the answer depends on what you want from the distributor, because they can serve you in a variety of capacities.If you want the lowest price on machines, then all you’ll get is the cheapest price, and no support. If you want someone to watch your back and make sure you are managing your business and keeping it on the right track, then you’re not going to get the cheapest price. You get what you pay for, so you need to decide what you want.MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICEMany distributors seem to only want to sell you machines, so be careful to not be oversold by anyone. The key here is trust! Do research and check the credentials of distributors and brokers before you decide who is the most qualified and who has the best reputation.Once you find the most qualified distributor, you’ll find the company is likely the most successful as well, so you can bet that you too will make money. If the sales representatives aren’t successful, how can they know how to make you successful? Also keep in mind that if the distributor has owned a laundry, they are probably going to better understand how to get you to the bank with your deposits.There are plenty of good people in the distribution business, but this is a manufacturer-driven industry. That’s why trusting a distributor with a lot of experience in the industry and a successful track record with its customers should be key to determining which is best.Building a business takes time, and your distributor should guide you and not try to jam you up with new washers and dryers all at once. I like to see laundries developed in phases, so if a distributor says, “Let’s only do five machines now, and then later we’ll go into the second phase,” you’re probably working with someone who has your back.Like building a house, the foundation comes first. If your distributor is looking out for you, then I believe you’ve found the right one. The distributor should also have the work ethics of a true entrepreneur and be there for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, because that’s the game we’re in. Money never sleeps!I tell people all the time that searching for a distributor is almost like getting married. You need to make sure the distributor is there for you day and night, weekends and holidays. If you call and they don’t answer the phone, you’d better keep looking.THE MOST VALUABLE PERSON IN YOUR BUSINESS PLANA distributor’s role is key to your success, so when you do find the right people, treat them with the respect they deserve and hold their opinions and recommendations in the highest regard. Remember, this should be a win-win scenario, where everybody gets taken care of. If you don’t do business in this manner, then the “team” concept doesn’t work.Industry veterans who have dedicated their lives to the laundry business are a precious commodity. Make sure that once you make your choice, you share a mutual trust and respect for one another, not just as customer and distributor, but as business partners for life.Realize that the two most valuable commodities in life are people and information. The right distributor will encompass both!

About the author

Robert J. Renteria

Consultant

Robert J. Renteria is a national consultant based in Chicago. He has more than 23 years of industry experience, having helped develop more than 750 coin laundries nationally and abroad. The author of three books, he was named the 2010 Chicago Latino Professional of the Year and is the sole recipient of the 2011 International Outstanding Humanitarian Award. In 2013, he received two Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards for his work in civil rights advocacy and educational reform. He can be reached at 312-933-5619 or robert@fromthebarrio.com.

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