Equipment manufacturer Hobart is aiming to transform its reputation in the dealer community.
Dave Riley, the UK warewash division MD commented: “It has always irked me that Hobart is seen as non-dealer friendly because we have have this extensive sales force. Even before we segmented our warewashing and cooking divisions in 2011, a huge amount of our business was going through dealers. It’s a complete misnomer but it is still difficult to change.”
Riley believes he has calculated that Hobart does more warewashing business through dealers than one of its nearest competitors does business in total. “The only difference since segmentation is that the cooking division didn’t dive as strongly down the dealer route, but this is now being addressed,” he explained.
Hobart Cooking Solutions is changing its business model to reflect this intention. This has been demonstrated in the fact that its dealer sales rose by 30% in 2014, and during the first quarter of this year the percentage was even higher, with an even larger projection to come. According to Simon Merrick, the director of cooking solutions in the UK: “The reason we are being successful is that we are taking a very measured approach – we need to understand our dealers’ businesses.
“Our commercial team has not been in that environment before, so it has been a very steep learning curve as to how to deal with our partners. We are doing a lot of research and arranging a lot of meetings to evaluate whether particular dealers are the correct partners for us.”
Merrick believes that this is leading to distributors changing their perception of Hobart’s cooking division. “The feedback from where we were 12 months ago is night and day, so that’s really good news,” he commented.
He feels that building these relationships is benefitting both parties. “Dealers can take advantage of the fact that we give them free staff training for the life of our equipment. We do free drawings and scheme design – our representatives have been selling direct for years so they know how to design a kitchen. Giving that value to a dealer is fantastic. The benefit for us is growth: we are looking to grow our business, it’s our number one priority.”