The Germany-based Stihl corporation sells its popular line of hardware and power tools through a network of 8,000 authorized U.S. dealers: hardware stores, lawn and garden centers, repair shops and other retail operations. Stihl prides itself on distribution through smaller and mid-size independents and on its absence from the "big box" chains that have transformed home-improvement stores into miniature shopping malls. The company does, however, set a fairly rigorous process for the hopeful "small box" hardware newbie.
Contact the Company
As described by Stihl, the process of becoming an authorized dealer in the company's products begins with an email. You must include a description of your store, an estimate of annual sales, a list of other brands you're selling, the hours the store is open and complete contact information, including an email and website address.
Stihl also wants to know about any repair services offered by your shop. The company emphasizes that its dealers must be prepared to service what they sell. A store without a service department or at least a willingness to offer repairs and routine maintenance on Stihl's machinery need not apply for a dealership relationship. Stihl's own dealer support division offers online training for servicing its products, as well as merchandising systems for the use of its affiliates.
Interviews and Meetings
The process continues with contact from Stihl's dealer inquiry department. If the company believes you may be a good fit as a dealer, it will respond with an email or phone call to arrange a meeting with a company representative. In the process, the company will learn more about your operation: how long you've been in business, how many employees you have, your clientele, your location. In addition, Stihl will want some information about the state of your service operation, especially staff members and their experience and the service department's revenue and physical size.
Stihl will make a decision about your application based on the information you've provided and on the proximity of other Stihl dealers to your store. Once a dealer is authorized to sell and service Stihl products, the company provides training in new products and information on the technical innovations that constantly occur in the power-tool industry. The company also offers an online learning module, known as the Stihl iCademy, and social media platforms to promote the business and market its products.