by Harvey Johnson
What makes a good partnership?
1. Mutual respect. Understanding the other’s position, showing value to the relationship and striving for a win-win in all dealings.
2. Consideration and understanding of needs. Every company has needs and, frankly, requirements for survival and profitability. Growth, understanding and respecting the needs of your partners is mandatory for a successful partnership.
3. Understanding every business deal doesn’t go as expected. When pressures mount, discord builds, so we need to see problems as they arise, look for understanding and then cooperate to make the best of difficult situations.
Steven Covey’s book, “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,” teaches an important principle that must be observed in every good partnership: Seek first to understand and then to be understood. See things through the eyes of your partner, show value to his position, be sure you understand and only then, “seek to be understood.” Be sure your position is completely presented but done in a way that shows you understood his position.
The flooring industry was built on great partnerships, and we continue to develop and foster strong relationships and lead the world in quality, innovation, style and design. Each industry segment is intertwined by the ability of partnership to flourish, to understand each other’s needs and build together through addressing these needs. Innovation is the product of great partnerships: Raw material suppliers work hand-in-hand with manufacturers to develop better products. The delivery of product innovation is facilitated through a national network of independent distributors, reaching many more dealers than a mill alone could possibly do.
Manufacturers partner with both retailers and distributors, finding better ways to merchandise offerings. In this process, the information highway runs smoothly through distribution designed and built on great partnerships—disseminating information on new styles, designs and innovations; training staff and installers, and delivery of all this in a timely fashion. This is only possible through strong, mutually beneficial partnerships.
Distribution plays an extremely important role in this series of connective partnerships. We are the highway over which most, if not all innovations travel. Distributors function as information central, trainer and, very often, the refiner who helps both retailer and mill make adjustments to improve and perfect these innovations.
Distributors have the vested interest of the retailer at all times—it’s at the center of all we do. Their success becomes our success. We do everything possible to help our suppliers find success, which can only be done as we help the retailer find that same success. As such, we not only install merchandising for the manufacturer but work to develop specialized merchandising to meet the needs of our unique markets. The mill must develop things for the national level; distributors refine them and make them sensitive to their specific market areas.
The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) brings mills and distributors together. Our association educates on everything from the tenements of running a business to delivering product cost effectively to training, credit and understanding dynamic industry changes.
As a representative of distributors everywhere, I want to pass along a huge thank you to both retailers and manufacturers for giving us our purpose and ability to serve the flooring industry.