July '20

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94 • RV PRO • July 2020 rv-pro.com agers, Later says each is assigned a day to monitor the pricing of its products around the internet. The result is regional sales managers who know more about what's going on with online sales, and for the 50-some e-tailers who have signed agree- ments with the company, it's fostered better relationships. "We're taking the position that, if they're going to represent our product online and agree to our MAP, then we want them to represent it properly," Later says. "We're willing to assist them – not as extensively as our brick-and-mortar dealers – but in a similar way. We don't want them using old images, old descrip- tions and so forth." Still, the third component of these programs – dealing with offenders – can be difficult. Because all four suppliers sell through distributors, the actual enforce- ment is in their hands. MORryed's Enfield says part of the policy lets distributors and dealers know what happens on a first offense, how much time they have to correct it, and what hap- pens for a second offense. "We're the ones who have to follow through with it," he says. "We've sent some 'Do not sell' notifications to repeat violators. The good news is many of them respond and come back and honor the agreement." However, he says because of the way the company tracks products, it may have to go and buy an item at the below-MAP price to figure out which distributor has sold the item. "We have to work through the distrib- utors to enforce the penalties," he adds. PullRite's Later says if there is a down- side to having such a policy, it's that it does make more work for the distribu- tors, which are notified by letter that they aren't authorized to drop-ship to this or that reseller. Still, even with those painful conver- sations, these suppliers say having a MAP or MRP policy is good business. Dem- co's Northcutt says while there are some companies that are driven by price, his company isn't one of them, and its MRP policy reinforces that. "On a frequent basis we get thanks from our dealers for doing this," he says. "They say they aren't being told they can buy it for $200 less somewhere else. If the dealer is making more money on the product and they're happy selling it, our hope is the consumer is happy buying it from them because they're getting a good experience." And, while he adds that Demco prob- ably lost some online retailers because of the policy, others are thriving with it, and dealers generally are selling more. Timbren's Betournay says his company has been thanked by its dealers for its pro- gram, too. "We view our product as a premium product," he says. "The guy selling it deserves to get a premium price for it, so why are we going to let someone lessen the perceived value? "I think everybody should have a MAP policy." "Our product is installation-driven, and we felt the consumer would have a better experience if they weren't buying on price, but were buying on value. We want them to buy from someone who can professionally install it," says Doug Northcutt, sales manager for Demco Products.

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