Updated: Apr 11, 2019
Despite being raised in the same house, by the same parents and being very close in age, my sister Marci and I are nothing alike. We have different interests, different tastes in music and totally different personalities (I’m the funny one)!
Still though, we do have plenty in common! We both love to cook (though we wonder who we learned that from, since my mother’s cooking inspired an episode of “America’s Most Wanted”). We both love to travel, both fell in love with Italians our second time around and of course we both know who’s mom favorite is (I feel really bad about this but hey…she got “daddy”)!
The point is that despite familial similarities, we are unique individuals. Reminds me of paint dealers: no two Lipton’s and no two dealers are the same!
Having met (literally) hundreds of dealers at the AllPro show, now three weeks ago, and having seen the full-range of independent paint dealers, I still find myself thinking about how different we all are.
The largest among us now are reaching up towards 100 stores! Some stretch over a multitude of states while others have that many stores all in one market. Most all of those dealers buy paint from others but some are manufacturing their own. (To me, those dealers test the limits of what even is an “independent paint retailer”. But I’m going to leave that for another time.)
Existing in that same universe as the hundred-store dealership is the single store or small chain. Believe it or not, that demographic still represents the biggest chunk of volume from this channel. The average AllPro dealer is about three stores!
That must create quite a conflict for manufacturers. Think about how varied the needs are between two dealers: a single store decorating center and a 20+ store chain.
I see the problem, though I don’t see that many solutions getting to market.
It may be more accurate to call many single store “paint and decorating” stores, “decorating and paint” stores. I know many that sell more window treatments, wallpaper, fabrics, decorative hardware and the like, than paint. Still though, they ARE paint stores. Their offerings likely tend towards Aura, Accolade and Manor Hall sold at full retail or close to it.
The bigger chains may sell little if any, of those super-premium products: Ultra Spec, Pro-Hide Gold and Speed-Hide are where they make their money. And while smaller chains hang on tight to the retail price, these larger dealers need volume that can only come from offering significant discounts (and credit) to professional paint users.
Here’s the point of all this: dealers need to be able to differentiate themselves the way they want and manufacturers should be offering differentiated support aligned with a dealer’s goals. If my vision for my stores is based on servicing the high-end consumer and specialized professionals then 20%-off buckets of primer by the skid is not going to interest nor help me.
Do YOU treat all your children the same?
At the same time that I posted this blog post, I uploaded a new episode of the “Mark, My Words” podcast. Joining me on this episode is Kelly Scott of Barrydowne Paints in Ontario, Canada.
There are over 5000 independent paint retailers in the United States and Canada, many of whom would have loved to be the FIRST independent paint retailer to join me on my podcast: but there is only one Kelly Scott of Barrydowne Paint.
Two stores, 34 employees: Yes, Barrydowne sells a lot of paint! But there are a lot of dealers that do more volume; that’s not why I selected Kelly.
Barrydowne has two physical locations but Kelly will tell you she has many more stores than those two: their online experience is a store that you can shop in as far as Kelly is concerned: they have a store in every pocket of every customer!
Recognizing that the Internet was here to stay, paint companies (manufacturers and dealers) went to work figuring out how the Internet would make them rich. When it became clear that the weight and packaging of paint made using the Internet to ship it profitably all across the country VERY unlikely, most give up.
Kelly is not the the giving up type. And she didn’t acce