By Andy Kriege, YSN
The following is the last in a three-part series on securing inventory for your store in an increasingly tight supply environment.
Merchandising your store can be a challenge even during the best of times. Filling your showroom when inventory is as constrained as it is now can be nearly impossible. In this final installment in our three-part series on procuring inventory, we take a look at how Dave Schritter, owner of Dependable Maytag Home Appliance Center in Farmington, N.M., is coping with the challenge. As a Whirlpool-exclusive dealer, Schritter faces a unique challenge in that he is unable to pivot to various suppliers as inventory becomes available, as Bemis Appliance’s Ron Bemis explained in Part II. Yet he has nonetheless managed to keep the merchandise flowing and shares his strategies below.
An ancient Japanese proverb states that “Money grows on the tree of persistence.” In this time of limited supply, it is dogged persistence that helps keep product moving at a rate not seen before at Dependable Maytag. Schritter’s strategy includes regularly checking the Whirlpool portal throughout day, searching constantly for any available inventory. He has even been known to take his laptop home and scour the site in the evenings while watching TV and relaxing with his wife.
“We check for freezers at least 10 times a day and have been finding some,” he said. Typically, these units come from orders that other dealers cancelled for various reasons. “We have been getting as many as 50 calls a day inquiring about availability,” Schritter continued, and “we usually buy all we can get.” So far, the company has managed to secure a steady supply of product, and the pieces fly out the door as fast as they come in. In fact, some don’t even pass through the doors. “We don’t even bring them inside, we sell them all right off the truck in the parking lot,” he said. “We call people and tell them they are here, and they can come and pick them up.”
Sources of Help
In addition to the time Schritter spends hunting down inventory, he has received a good deal of assistance from both BrandSource and Whirlpool, and praised the interaction between fellow Maytag Channel members.
“We have great communication,” he said. “I have been connecting frequently with other BrandSource members. We alert each other to available inventory that pops up on the Maytag portal. Not only have other dealers been supportive, Whirlpool has been fantastic in supporting the independents.”
In addition, “Our Whirlpool rep has also been instrumental in helping us find product. We call her regularly and she checks the obsolete and discontinued reports and lets me know if there is anything else available out there that I can’t see through the Whirlpool hub. Whirlpool has been good to let the dealers know when there is some product availability, giving the independents a jump on the big boxes to snatch it up.”
How Much is Too Much?
Ordering too much of anything is presently a non-issue as current demand is through the roof. “We have a list of 25 core models we search every day and buy whatever comes available,” he explained, making sure to build out each order to meet the six-piece minimum to receive free freight.
Availability Rules the Day
In addition, Schritter scans the DNO (discontinued and obsolete) list. “We look at models we would not ordinarily sell and consider purchasing them. Price is not a big factor in today’s market,” he noted. “It is more a question of who has the goods. If we have the product and nobody else does, we put our margin on it and sell it, irrespective of the price.” Now more than ever, availability rules the day.
Expanding the Customer Base
Like many BrandSource members, Dependable Maytag is expanding its customer base with shoppers who were referred from the local Lowe’s and Home Depots. Schritter is excited about these prospects coming in for the first time, as he is confident that once they experience the level of service offered at his store, they will become loyal repeat customers.
While no one has a crystal ball, most dealers expect the supply situation to improve during the back-half of the year, as more and more factories are getting back up to capacity to meet the surge in demand. If and when demand levels off, industry tightness will abate even sooner. But for the time being, dealers need to remain diligent and work as hard as Dave Schritter at getting the product they need to keep their customers satisfied.
BrandSource is a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc.