Who’s Got a MAP?

I recently wrote about how many aftermarket distributors that are selling to us are also selling direct to our customers at a discount

The Powersports Industry Needs A Level Playing Field

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] recently wrote about how many aftermarket distributors that are selling to us are also selling direct to our customers at a discount. To put it more succinctly, the very distributors, and yes, manufacturers, whom we have supported for the last few decades, are now becoming our competition.

unlevel-playing-fieldI’m not talking about brick and mortar stores that have an online presence; I’m talking about a manufacturer, importer, or distributor whose reps come into our stores, trying to get us to order the same stuff that the head office is selling at wholesale prices direct to our customer. If someone wants to start an online business buying the same goods from the same source as me, and selling them at a discount, that’s at least starting at the same point.

BUT, when my supplier is selling the goods to me that I need to move to make a living, (and keep my banker and employees happy) and meanwhile selling those same goods to retail clients at a wholesale price, then I have a problem. I have supported these people for decades, and now because of the Internet, they think it’s alright to sell direct? There are only so many customers, and let’s face it; if they cannot get it wholesale, they’ll buy it retail.
From us.

I’ve received several letters from dealers who are on the same page as me. One dealer had to buy his goods from online retail sellers for a particular job because the distributor did not have the right parts in stock, and they were backordered until God knows when.

[pullquote]“WE are the ones who have built this industry over the last 100 years.”[/pullquote]

We recently had a client waiting for some accessories for his brand new bike, and while they were not available from any distributors we have, the customer found them available from someone that I suspect is a front for a wholesale accessories distributor. This begs the question; why would these items be available from their discount retail arm, but not from their wholesale division? Could it be that these items are hard to come by, and they save them for retail customers, only shipping to us when they have surplus?

What if, for instance, when we get a backorder from a distributor on a certain product, we looked at their discount retail arm and found that same article ready and available for immediate sale? I would bet that it happens far more than we are aware.

I don’t believe in conspiracies, as I think groups of people aren’t that well organized for such long spans of time. However, there seems to be some evidence that the wholesalers and manufacturers have a new business plan, and it has less and less to do with us.

There has been talk recently about more manufacturers invoking MAP policies, which is Minimum Advertised Pricing. They set a price which they think is fair, and anyone who advertises their goods at below that is cut off from supply of said goods. I give kudos to those manufacturers who have made this step. I recently was sent a list of those manufacturers who have done so, and I try to sell their goods as often as I can.

I can hear many people (mostly those offenders whom we are talking about) saying that this undercuts competition and is against the American way. To them I say “Poppycock!” The American way is being able to build a business and a life on a level playing field; working together to make us all prosperous. This does not mean selling goods at an unfair price because you’ve told the manufacturers of these products that you are a wholesaler, then start to sell direct to the public.

Why then, shouldn’t we be able to buy direct from the manufacturers at the same price as the wholesalers do? Well, let’s face it; the logistics would kill us. Instead of five or 10 places to purchase goods, we’d have 200-300, and probably more. I can only imagine what that would look like.

However, if the manufacturers of the goods we sell the most of would just establish a MAP policy, with a good markup for all of us, that would go a long way to making all of us on the same level, and maybe we, as dealers, could have a little more coin in our pockets, and the manufacturers would still sell the same goods at the same profit.

WE are the reason that they are here. WE are the ones who have built this industry over the last 100 years. WE are the ones who have supported the distributors in that time. WE are the ones who lost 3,000 of our fellow dealers in the last few years. Now it’s time for us to stand and make some noise.

Who’s with me?

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