Beauty Store Business

AUG 2017

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20 August 2017 | performance. "It makes the negotiation practical and credible." Freeman is frank about negotiat- ing the right prices for his stores. He explains that he needs good pricing to balance out the expense of running his business, from his warehouse to his separate offices and stores. "We spend a lot of money on education," Free- man says. "[Education is] very expensive, because we're paying 40 people for payroll for the time of the education and transportation, even if the vendor is bringing it in. That's expensive. I don't want our staff looking at the back of the product and reading it. I want them to know the product. I'm a big believer in a win-win situation. If you think we're ask- ing for more than we should get, and you don't think we can give back to you equal consideration, then maybe we shouldn't do business. I have to be able to say this is what I want, and this is what we will do for you." 4. GIVE DELIBERATE FEEDBACK One of the most invaluable ROIs that retailers can give their reps is feedback on the overall performance and appeal of their products. And your retail staff will be valuable in aiding you in this area; they get to observe your customers up close, answer their questions, give them advice and hear about their product experiences and concerns. So, gather your store's collective observations and give your reps honest feedback on how their products and ideas are performing in your store. "I'm a big proponent of feedback," Freeman says. "I go to our store per- sonnel because I don't believe that I'm touching enough people that I can give anybody or myself [information about] running the business without hearing what my people say. I [may] look at a product and say, 'I don't think it's for our staff.' But I'm open to them telling me why or how. [The reps] can help us, and we can help them." Robinson notes that a retailer's feed- back gives the manufacturer insight that can serve it in its marketing, branding, product placement and product qual- ity. "Retailers should track customer data. This data should be based on how customers heard of the product, their movements throughout the store (what drew them to the product), what led to their purchase of the product and what made them make a repeat purchase (if they did)," Robinson says. 5. TREAT THEM WITH THE UTMOST RESPECT "The relationships with your reps are prob- ably the most important in this business. Treat them the way you would your best customer. They can offer a lot of value to your business beyond the manufacturer- retailer relationship," Fredericks says. "A lot of the reps I work with have been in the beauty business for decades, and are amazing guides and valuable resources in general." So, how do you view your manufac- turers reps? Do you view them similarly to your best customers? If you were to treat your reps as you would an important customer, would they know it? For instance, what investments do you make in your loyal customers? How quickly do you respond to their inquiries? What perks do you give them to keep the "spice" in the relationship? Now, could you say the same—or similar—for your relationships with your reps? "A lot of people haven't been on that side of the fence," Freeman says. "I've called on accounts nationwide as a rep. The worst thing a storeowner can do is not respect the rep's time. You [must] have the same respect for them you expect them to have for you. You don't have to be best friends. You don't have to like their personality. But you must have a business relationship that works for both of you. [You're] going to get the most benefit from a relationship with a rep by treating [him or her] as a colleague. We're all partners in the business." ■ Manyesha Batist is a freelance journalist based in Denver, CO. "Great entrepreneurs don't blindly negotiate. They bring some form of leverage to the table." –Devin Robinson, professor at Beauty Supply Institute CONNECT WITH REPS Trade shows present some of the easiest opportunities to connect with manufacturers reps. Two shows in particular are hosted by manufacturers rep associations with the goal of connecting professional beauty distributors and OTCs with beauty manufacturers. Western Buying Conference is hosted yearly in January by the WBC Rep Association, and the Eastern Buying Conference is hosted yearly in the spring by the Northeast Beauty Rep Association. Each show provides a combination of travel and hotel incentives and/or complimentary meals. Check the show's website for details. Both provide ample opportunity for networking and discovering the newest beauty products on the market. Here are the 2018 dates: Jan. 14–15, 2018 Western Buying Conference Bally's Las Vegas Register online at: westernbuying April 14–15, 2018 Eastern Buying Conference Hilton Meadowlands Register online at: easternbuying 2nd Street Beauty Boutique in Long Beach, California Courtesy of 2nd Street Beauty Boutique

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