Advise & Conquer
Insight on 3M’s new Dealer Advisory Council
One benefit to water treatment dealers who belong to dealer networks is the ability to network with and learn from their peers. 3M recently formed a Dealer Advisory Council (DAC) to maximize these efforts. Water Quality Products Managing Editor Kate Cline recently spoke with Mark Howlett of 3M and Chuck Minott of Chuck the Water Man, both members of the DAC, about the council and how it will help dealers.
Kate Cline: What is the structure and function of the DAC?
Mark Howlett: The 3M DAC is made up of seven 3M Authorized Water Dealers from across the country, as well as two 3M representatives: Victor Zaldivar, our director of sales, and me. We developed the council to help grow the 3M dealer network and give dealers a resource to leverage peer experience when they have questions about their businesses. We also understand that dealers value the insight from fellow dealers, allowing the 3M DAC to provide a safe haven for dealers to discuss their respective businesses. Furthermore, the council members are there to serve as mentors to new water dealers.
Cline: How are members of the DAC selected?
Howlett: The members were selected based on their leadership in the water industry and the 3M Authorized Water Dealer program.
Cline: What led to the formation of the DAC?
Howlett: We are currently looking for growth-oriented dealers who want to enter into an exclusive territory relationship with 3M. That’s different from the approach other manufacturers are taking, but it offers many unique opportunities. Because our dealers have protected territories and aren’t in competition with each other, they are able to foster a more collaborative environment where everyone can work together and share resources to maximize their success.
Cline: How will the DAC benefit water dealers?
Chuck Minott: We are really there to be a resource for fellow dealers and to facilitate a candid exchange of ideas. We also have the ear of 3M when we want to share concerns or ideas with corporate, and we can talk with 3M about trends we’re seeing among dealers. We function as a resource for 3M as well, since we can give feedback on new ideas or programs before they are rolled out to the entire network, which benefits dealers in the end, [because] initiatives will have been vetted before implementation.
Cline: What types of issues/topics has the council focused on so far? What issues/topics does it intend to take on in the coming year?
Minott: We’re currently focused on growing the network of 3M authorized dealers, which we can only do until the protected territories are spoken for, so we’re trying to get the word out to dealers that this window will close and they need to act soon. We talked about this at a recent tradeshow, where the DAC was allowed to run the 3M booth for a social hour. This gave us a great chance to speak freely with interested dealers and answer their questions, and it gave the dealers a comfortable environment to ask the things they were curious about.
In the coming months, we’re going to be working with 3M corporate on some ideas for new products, giving feedback on whether we think they make sense for the network of dealers. We’re also going to be speaking with authorized dealers about what kind of additional marketing help they’d like to see.
Cline: Why is it beneficial for water dealers to be part of a dealer network?
Minott: For an independent water dealer, becoming part of the 3M network comes with some key advantages. First is brand power. I do very well in my region, but even so, the Chuck the Water Man brand has nowhere near the recognition of 3M. When customers hear 3M, there’s a definite association with quality and strong science. An additional benefit for dealers is the marketing package they gain access to. There are Internet, print and e-marketing tools that are ready to go to help launch these products in your business.
Looking toward the future, I think it’s a real advantage for dealers to be associated with a company that is always working on the next big improvement and technology breakthrough. Dealers can be confident that product offerings aren’t going to get stale, because the 3M research and development machine is always running. Plus, 3M has plenty of training and development opportunities to help keep you and your team sharp on all of the new technologies