When people ask me, "How long have you been selling office products?" I tend to pause, awaiting the response I might receive when I say. "Oh, about two decades." Generally, there is a mix of replies and subsequent questions depending on the age of the person asking.
My love of the industry doesn't necessarily come from the products themselves, although I do get excited about an occasional new product here and there. I also mourn the death of "old" products that have become obsolete, like the Bates List Finder and I always enjoy a puzzling question like, "Just what the heck is a Jamlea clip and what is it's purpose?"
The reason I love the industry so much is because I can help solve problems that run peoples' businesses. It's what I do, and the challenges keep me motivated.
When the shock and awe wears off from my explanation of my tenure, I explain that my experience has been invaluable. It's valuable to me, but it's also valuable to you - the potential customer. With the diversity of my industry skills, I have a unique perspective. Not only am I a salesperson, I'm also an advocate. I understand the full circle of this industry from a customers perspective and also from the perspective of running a locally owned, independent dealership.
In January, after transitioning into Twist OP, I had my first exposure to the Business Source brand. Business Source is your local, go to brand for everyday products like paper and binder clips, 3-ring binders, legal pads, sticky notes and more. Many of these products used to be sold under the Sparco brand name - the generic branding of SP Richards Company.
The equivalent generic brand that I used to work with was Universal ( a familiar brand in Minnesota). Business source was created to further drive value with attractive pricing, an updated name and image - along with a creative plan to develop a solid brand identity in the growing generic business essentials market. Although the name may seem new, the quality products are still the same.
During the move of my customers to the Twist platform, I will admit that one of my biggest concerns was shifting my customers from the Universal brand to the Business Source brand. I'm not sure what caused this personal fear...was it because this is always what they were used to? Or, was it just the "change is hard" factor? To my surprise, my customers were unfazed with the conversion to Business Source. The conversion sites are out there on our dealer site and with a strong in-house customer service team that is versed on this process, the changeover was seamless. Later on, I began to see more in this chronicle. Not only was the conversion easy, the quality that I expected was there - and first rate. I virtually had zero complaints...and having experience in this industry, I understand that sometimes quality can be irrelevant when a brand name changes...sometimes a perception can create a false reality that the substitution will always be inferior, but in this case that negative perception was never cultivated.
I continued to learn more and the "other" side of my industry experiences came into play. I started looking at prices between brands. When you are a dealer and you are creating a pricing structure for your customers, you want to make sure you consider all factors when settling on a consumer price. This is something I know, this is a project that I was part of for more than a decade.
When you go online and check on the Big-Box competition, what do you see for their pricing on "their" name brand office essentials? And by Big-Box, I mean as compared to Staples and Office Depot and Office Max. The pricing I found at the Big-Box competition was clearly higher when compared to local dealers offering the Business Source brand. Sometimes, their pricing was very off base. It's high, because our competition expects consumers to do a couple of things. First, they expect that consumers believe that because they have fancy commercials, stadiums and massive mass mailings, that they are going to be the authority on office products. Sorry, Pandora, but that isn't true. Second, they expect you to believe that everyday business essentials will be the cheapest from them. The facts are, however, that the general everyday consumer when purchasing from the Big Boxes will be paying too much for their private label brands. At times, the over-pricing is significant.
At Twist OP, we understand these concepts. And the Business Source brand wants you to also think B and think value. Look a little further when purchasing your top ten everyday items...whether it's Universal or the Staples, Depot or Quill brand. You may be surprised at what you can save. The Business Source brand is value. The quality is there. The new Think B format of thinking outside the box will drive the savings into your business' bottom line. So, Think B. Think value. Think local and think Twist OP.