Drive DeVilbiss healthcare claims it now pours more time and resources into its dealer network than any other sales channel as part of its new strategy designed at supporting smaller physical retailers.
Grant Abrahams, retail director, and Drive’s business development team have been touring UK mobility retailers to see what support they need and are now readjusting its dealer strategy to boost its long term growth.
Abrahams told AMP that the resources, investment and time it has put into its dealer network this year have been “greater than any other channel because we still believe, and I, am a big believer of it”.
Aiming to answer sceptics in the market, Drive has launched a product catalogue designed to push end-users into physical stores, introduced equipment not available online and brought in next day delivery until 5pm.
Abrahams admitted that dealers “definitely need reassurance”, especially considering his background with Betterlife, but insisted Drive is ‘in it for the retailers’.
He said: “Hopefully we’ll see a change this year. Everything we’re trying to do is about growing all of our channels.
“Drive has historically probably supported the bigger brands, which is when you’re under pressure to grow, probably the right strategy.
“But I’ve come full circle and want to go back to the roots of supporting those traditional dealers.
“By having the in-store proposition for dealers and the next day delivery it’s a better service than e-commerce competitors can offer, who can often only offer up to 3pm or 4pm. It’s creating a more equal playing field.”
He added that the distributor channel is “very important”: “The majority of my time this year has been working on the strategy for that channel because that’s where we were probably a bit weaker than we should have been.
“Drive came from that [channel] initially, but we’ve lost touch a little bit with it. So we’ve changed the team and made sure we’ve got business developers, not product shifters.
“They want to go into dealers and have bespoke conversations about how they can help dealers to grow their business. It’s not just about product supply, it’s everything.”
Abrahams explained that Drive is stocked in around 800 UK dealers but around less than half are the majority spend for the company.
The company wants to expand its presence in dealer channels as a means to secure long term and stable growth.
He claimed that the growth the manufacturer is seeing since implementing its new strategy is “pretty frightening” and said that the expansion in its regions has been “way above expectations”.
Abrahams concluded: “I know there was a lot of nervousness among our traditional dealers when I came on-board because I came from an e-commerce background, but if I’m honest I’ve probably spent most of my time working with independents, going out and listening to them and their concerns.
“I went out there to understand what challenges dealers have. I found they had a good range, maybe didn’t have the stock, they wanted next day delivery, competitively priced products that can compete with online and they want products that aren’t available everywhere.
“It sounds quite simple but that’s what we’re trying to fix.”