What’s a business without its customers?
You can’t run and operate a business, especially a wholesale business, without a clientele that can sustain your work. No matter what line of work you’re in, you need to have a client base that trusts you, your products, and your credibility as a business.
Expanding your wholesale business at the expense of your clientele may not be the best strategy in the long run, because in a time where manufacturers themselves pose a threat to wholesalers, your position is incredibly weakened.
Working as a B2B wholesaler, you’re going to need a steady and loyal clientele with whom you have a partnership built on mutually shared values and principles of operation.
Why is it important to have regular clients?
Having regular clients that return to you for their business needs means that you’re doing something right. It’s important to bring in new customers, but keeping old ones is reflective of your position as a viable competitor in the market.
As a wholesaler, it’s even more important, if you’re operating as a small business. Wholesalers operate differently from retail businesses because they generally have smaller client bases, but bigger orders and deal in bulk goods.
Your role is that of a middleman who takes supplies from the manufacturer or supplier, packages and delivers them to various retail clients. You’re the person who’s getting products out to the market before they reach the consumer, which means your customers depend on you for the success of their business too.
You need clients who will trust and rely upon you to meet their demands, building your credibility. This gets you referrals and a spot among market competitors, helping your business build a brand and a reputation, which translates to all sorts of social and financial capital.
Building a buyer-supplier relationship
There are various ways to go about establishing a reliable, mutually productive and long-term buyer-supplier relationship with your clients. As a wholesaler working as a foodservice supplier, there’s a lot that you can do to connect with retailers in your field.
You can reach out to clients via traditional, more organic methods, such as having them come to you on their own, or through referrals, contacting you through your website or social media or at conferences, etc.
The alternative is to apply marketing techniques and seek out new clients to expand and connect with. This can be done through paid advertisements, partnerships, offering discounts and incentives to retailers to get in touch with you.
It also helps to have a niche that only you’re fulfilling, which means clients will not find similar goods and services, apart from your business. Not only will you stand apart from the competition, but you’ll also have the edge of setting market standards, pricing advantages and much more.
Finding a niche—or building one
Suppose you’re a wholesaler operating in Australia, selling produce from local farms to restaurants in the city. There are probably hundreds of businesses just like yours doing the same thing—so why would a newly founded or a well-established institution trust your wholesale business for their supplies, especially if they find cheaper alternatives?
What could set you apart? Are you aiming for random clients, anyone really, who’ll want to do business with you? Do you have a specific client profile in mind? Perhaps a small, home-run organic vegan food business looking for another small wholesale business that delivers efficiently and specifically to businesses in their line of service?
It might be tempting to cater to a majority, thinking there’s potential for more clients out there—and there probably is—but there are greater rewards where there are greater risks, after all!
Why would you venture into an oversaturated market, with dozens of competitors and nothing to set your business or your brand apart from those with more experience, more capital and far greater resources?
The age-old business strategy of ‘creating a need’ is increasingly less relevant in a time where consumers are wary of businesses and what they buy. As a wholesaler, you’re equally affected by changing trends in the retail work, if not less or more.
If your clients’ clients want to know if the meat they eat is kosher, the eggs free-range, the vegetables and fruits organic, the grains pure, there is immense pressure on restaurants and other food businesses to meet that need. As a wholesaler, you’ll be expected to bring in supplies that match those demands.
You don’t always need to carve out a niche, sometimes you need just to find one.
This is where your entrepreneurial sense and business plan can cause a radical shift in your modus operandi. Why run after a majority that doesn’t really need you, when you have a gap in the market for a minority that does?
The benefits of repeat customers
The benefits that a well-established customer base can have often outweigh the ‘losses’ you might be facing by not getting new clients on board all the time.
The following are some of the most important outcomes of having a loyal clientele that give you consistent business:
Spending less on advertising
Businesses need to invest a portion of their budgets toward betting their name out there. No matter where in the world you are, what your advertising strategy is or what scale you’re operating at, it’s almost essential to any business trying to build itself up.
Whether you invest your advertising resources on random widely targeted audiences such as through television and newspapers, or you go for specific techniques, such as pay-per-click and SEO marketing, there’s almost no avoiding it.
It’s important to find a strategy that works for you and your business, because remember, techniques vary between wholesale and retail advertising, so it might take trial and error. It’s a lot more cost-effective to build your customer care and customer service and to keep those on board satisfied, than it is to attempt getting more people to give you business.
Focus on quality over quantity
Work with what you have. You’ll be spending less time and energy on the clients that do come to you and rely on you for their needs, as opposed to finding new ones. This means you can dedicate more care, focus and higher quality services and products to current clients, building a business reputation that might have suffered otherwise.
Having clients that return to you for their needs is a sign of stability, not stagnation. You need not worry about expanding in numbers to measure your success. At the end of the day, if your clients are satisfied with your services, you’ll automatically have a better business.
Building credibility and authority in the market
As a wholesaler, you’ll be dealing with dozens of other competitors in the market. How can you expect to stand out if retail businesses only see you as just another supplier? In fact, there will probably be other businesses with the ability to offer lower, more competitive prices, attractive offers and discounts and not only draw in new clients but retain your old clients too.
If your clients trust you, have found you reliable, your products high-quality, they will be sure to refer you to other businesses. That kind of organic marketing comes from a place of authority and credibility that customers believe your business to have.
It helps especially well if you’re providing services that cater to a niche such as the ones mentioned earlier. Your business will not only have more specific clients, but it will have less competition and a better reputation—all of which contribute to success.
As mentioned above, it’s a lot more economical to have older clients returning to you than it is to bring new ones in. If you establish a relationship of trust and reliability with your clients effectively, they’ll know to come to you for their business needs.
As a wholesaler, it’s important to know your clients’ needs and wants in order to succeed. When a client knows that you’re meeting those needs, offering them excellent customer service, great rates and specific niches that help them meet their business goals, they’ll come back to you over and over again.
Easier management and operations
This is another form of stability that your business needs, especially if you’re a small wholesaler. You can’t afford to risk having stock of supplies, but no one to buy them the next month or next week or next year.
Having a client base that you know, their orders and demands being familiar to you and being met by you, and a sense of trust they place in you is great in a managerial sense too.
You don’t need to process orders for hundreds of clients each month, only for them to not come back, dealing with changes, working with new suppliers, ordering new products for your stock, figuring out delivery and shipments, so on and so forth.
The smaller your clientele, the easier it is to manage and with the help of OrderTron, an order management software for small businesses, everything can be done with just a few clicks and taps. Your clients will be connected to you, have access to your catalogues, place orders and the application will process it all for you.
Focus on the clients you do have, as a rule of thumb. Don’t let your ambitions get the best of you and cost you what you’ve worked for and take help where you can! To learn more about OrderTron and how it can help your business, contact them here.