As deck and substructure options grow, dealers face more pressure to know which products will sell in their markets. “The biggest problem dealers face is having to change lines and adapt as companies introduce new products,” MoistureShield’s Gwatney says. “They’re not upset by new options in a line, but they want the products to be consistent and not have constant lineup changes. When a manufacturer eliminates a line, dealers are the ones who get stuck with the old product.”
Nyloboards’s Jacks agrees. “While we are making some additions, we’re also sensitive to concerns about constantly changing and adding SKUs. Dealers are sick and tired of having to add new SKUs and seeing companies coming and going. We’ve been careful to make it easier for them with our product offerings.” Controlling color options is a key point, says Enduris’ Wearne, noting the company’s eight colors. “Distributors don’t want more choices. They tell us they have enough.”
Pressure-treated wood also is aiming to help inventory levels, Viance’s Kollwitz says. “The wood stabilizer used in our Ecolife preservative system significantly reduces ‘yard culls’ and unsalable pieces, reducing inventory losses,” he says. “With the improvements in treatment solutions and wood stabilizers, builders have fewer returns, fewer customer complaints and fewer costly callbacks.”
Many dealers have been relying on special-order services, but that may end as the market grows, Gwatney says. “As the industry slowed, it was to the dealer’s advantage not to stock products. But now, the market is picking up. The first time the dealer can’t get a product he needs in time to make the sale, he’ll want to start stocking more products.”
Some dealers may be able to avoid those special-order needs if they know their products well, Genova’s Seeger says.
“Dealers tend to go in one of two ways: They try to show and sell everything and end up stocking a lot of product, or they focus on two or three brands and become more of an expert on those products’ benefits. By far, the dealers who narrow their offering do a much better job. You can’t be an expert on everything. If you show customers comparable ones and know the details and benefits, you’ll still make the sale.