The expectations — and awkward situations — that come with rep encounters
Brian Wasik Owner, Spas of Montana Missoula & Helena, Montana
I have [our reps] come at least a couple times a year and work with my guys — and I time the training during one of our sales, so I get to double up.
The rep is someone you talk to quite a bit. You have to have that relationship because the rep is really there when you need something outside the norm or if you have a problem.
It’s a tough job, and it does take the right personality. I’ve had reps where the job probably wasn’t their can, and then you have reps who end up moving from company to company every couple of years. They get hired [at the new company] because of the relationships they have with key dealers in key markets.
There are certain reps and companies who have multiple lines. There’s a conflict of interest when the same rep is dealing with two [competing] stores in the same market. That’s the tough line for those guys to walk.
Doug Robinson Owner, Virginia Leisure Chesapeake, Virginia
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We offer numerous spa brands, and our factory reps, for the most part, are very accommodating. I’d prefer not to single out any one over the others (Bullfrog Spas, Victor Moss; Caldera Spas, Charlie Hughes; and Vita Spas/American Whirlpool, Gray Bruch) but most of them are ready, willing and able.
Over the last 12 to 18 months, they have been present at an on-site event done last October. This included helping with set up, providing customer assistance and closing sales when my staff was engaged with others. They also brought extra incentive to the table to add value to their brands, and to allow us to offer something special to customers during the event.
All have done at least one training session over the last year, and we run training meetings every Monday and Saturday during peak season, and bump it to three times per week during the off-season.
If I call or email any of my three reps I expect — and they deliver 99% of the time — a reply within an hour, whether that be via text, email or phone call.
I see each of them at least quarterly. We typically include a training meeting or topic to go over with the staff that is here the day of their visit. They sometimes even make it to our training meetings that begin at 8:30 a.m. All of my reps are a minimum of a three-hour drive from my location.
Most of the time, the guys also offer to grab lunch for the staff or invite the staff out for dinner, which is a little more relaxed than in-store meetings. The staff seems to enjoy that and even get more tips on selling, product knowledge, overcoming stall/obstacles etc.
Jennifer Gannon Owner, BonaVista Leisurescapes Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I typically see our Hydropool rep (our largest vendor) once a month, which is enough to address service questions and training details. We communicate weekly, and during sale events and conferences more often. I hear back from our rep the same day following emails and phone calls, which is perfect. Our rep will be helping us at our tent event over the next four days, which I really appreciate, especially because it involves a weekend. We also send our staff to the manufacturer training programs annually, which is sufficient. I feel like we are a valued partner and get very good service from our rep. It’s a fun and respectful relationship that gives us a voice inside their production facility.