Do Smaller Manufacturers have a chance against the Big Conglomerates?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Recently the sale of Craftsman Tools went through to a conglomerate, Stanley Black and Decker, for two billion dollars and I asked myself: Does the smaller manufacturer have a fighting chance against them? In the case of reaching the professional tradesman, indeed they do, and here’s why…

The bigger the wheel, the longer it takes to go around. The big boys are only interested in one thing: increasing sales. Those are the numbers Wall Street looks at for growth. For independently owned manufacturers, there is a great opportunity to promote your flexibility and customer service:

  • Do what you say you will do for both distribution and the contractor 
  • Support your distribution channels and make it easy to do business with you
  • Have a contractor hotline and email for their support
  • Share tips on ways they can do their jobs better

Time is one thing we have little of, yet it’s what it will take to position yourself and your company as the industry expert. Wisdom comes from experience and experience is gained over time. Lots of your credentialing will come from the school of hard knocks. But that’s OK. We should learn from our failures and missteps.

Learn to share your expertise and solve problems instead of trying to sell contractors stuff.

With the advent of social media, we no longer control the message, where or when it will be delivered. You need to learn to share your experiences via storytelling as opposed to a sales pitch. Show your expertise by telling contractors how you helped others solve a problem or gave them a better way of doing a job that resulted in them making more money.

To become a true authority you need to deliver results beyond the ordinary.

If you do this, you’ll be able to grow your business through referrals and repeat business. Contractors are very loyal and they do talk among themselves, so let’s make sure what they say about your company is good.

It’s a never-ending battle. You need to keep being ahead of the curve and continue to wow contractors. Remember, everything you do at the contractor level should answer this one simple question, “What’s in it for me?”

Remember, size doesn’t always matter. Being better trumps being bigger every time!