Watermark joins the dots to boost dealers

Watermark’s MD, David Lawlor, admits that his company has faced something of a conundrum since it began the task of developing a channel for Gaggia’s commercial coffee machines in the UK.

“On the one hand, we need to increase our distribution network to meet demand. At the same time, some distributors are wary of taking on a new range because of the service support they will have to give,” he says.

It is a dilemma that has prompted the company to design and launch a new support package that aims to make it straightforward for distributors to support the products, irrespective of whether they have the resources or desire to do so.

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The concept behind the new structure is based on a ‘sliding scale’ approach that allows dealers to take over the servicing themselves or outsource the entire process to Watermark if they prefer.

If dealers want to provide some or all of the support for the machines they sell then Gaggia will leave them to it, only providing assistance if it is requested by the distributor.

On the other hand, if they just want to focus on shifting the kit, Watermark is offering to supply the after-sales support direct to the customer.

“For dealers that wish not to get involved in the whole servicing side of things, we can supply a package that allows them to get full support, installation, after-sales and warranty services without them having any technical know-how in house,” says Lawlor. “That also includes the final customer staff training.”

Should distributors take that option, service work will be handled by one of numerous accredited technical partners that specialise in Gaggia.

“The whole process is managed by Watermark, so I suppose in many respects it is about joining up the dots and making sure that all the bits are connected,” says Lawlor.

He points out that Gaggia can also create customised packages for distributors based on the resources they have at their disposal.

“If they do have a level of competency in-house or they do have engineers, then we can effectively tailor the package to their needs,” he explains. “So if they wanted to improve their coffee awareness, for instance, we can organise the training of their staff. It really is the complete spectrum from literally selling a box to a full installation and service.”

Earlier this year, Watermark said it was hoping to recruit a further seven or eight key dealers in the UK in 2012 and Lawlor says the company is well on the way to achieving that goal.

Watermark’s sales message has always been that the Gaggia range of machines is very competitively priced and delivers value for money over the long term. It hopes the flexibility of its service package will help to reinforce its position in the market.

“There is huge demand for the Gaggia brand and we want to be able to meet it,” says Lawlor. “The new deal makes Gaggia an even more appealing proposition to both coffee specialists and general catering equipment distributors. It will allow a wider audience to feel confident recommending and selling Gaggia.”

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