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Becoming a janitorial supplies distributor requires three essential ingredients: education, products and customers. All three can be accessed fairly easily but require personal effort and a business minded approach. Half-hearted efforts will meet with failure. Success requires preparation and a solid business plan. Your plan need not be complicated, but it should be well crafted. It will be your primary tool for defining the direction and viability of your business and for securing capital.
Write your business plan: A business plan is a written explanation of what your business does. It briefly outlines your target market, what separates you from the competition and any potential problem areas that should be addressed ahead of time. It also explores the future direction of the company, outlines principle participate qualifications and presents a financial breakdown of expenses and income potential.
Secure Capital. Like other businesses, a capital investment in your business will be required. You will determine the amount of capital necessary in your business plan. Your vision and your arrangement with both supplier/s and customers will determine the amount required. Capital can come from self-investment, family, friends or more traditional financing options.
Locate supplier. A good supplier of janitorial products is essential to your success. The process of locating a distributor is two-part: 1) You must find a supplier who will provide you with quality products at a marketable price. 2) Each supplier will have their own set of criteria for qualifying you as a potential distributor. A traditional supplier may require minimum product orders, a credit-line, insurance, bonding, etc. They may offer and or require training, and they may or may not charge for that training. A low-cost alternative to a traditional distributor relationship exists with some multilevel distribution companies who offer a variety of products including janitorial supplies to their distributor force. These companies can offer high-quality products and a "turn-key" business approach. These companies can generally be located by word-of-mouth, many also have a web presence and can be found through an on-line search.
Educate yourself. While much of your knowledge will ultimately come through experience, you can learn about product content, application, M.S.D.S. sheets, required by most industrial clients for federal compliance, and sales techniques through supplier education opportunities and products including videotape and on-line educational programs. Check with your supplier about available opportunities. You might also consider training or working with a janitorial service to learn their needs and expectations prior to engaging in the sales process.
Sell Products. Janitorial product distribution is a sales business. You sell your products to a company or business requiring janitorial supplies. This may or may not be a janitorial service. This will require contacting potential customers and potential providing samples and or demonstrations. Avail yourself of all opportunities to learn good sales techniques. Secure business cards with your company name and contact information and pass them out to everyone.
Make sure your business complies with local and state laws. Seek legal advice when needed.
- Tom Moore; Ameriserve; Indianapolis, Indiana
Michael L. Harris, an Indiana-based freelance actor/writer/filmmaker, has been published in "Keeping the Faith—Best Indiana Sermons" and in "Bluegrass Unlimited." His most recent film, "Samuel—A Journey of Discovery," released to festivals in 2010. He has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Brigham Young University, a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ball State and is certified as a paralegal.