One of my goals this year was to have representation in every state by June. I didn’t make it. It was a lot more difficult than I would have thought to find reps that want to take on a new line. I’ve been learning ALOT about this crazy gift industry since starting my company 2 years ago…and I’ve still got lots to learn when it comes to developing a strong, rep network that will support my line day in and day out.
Last year I was lucky enough to work with a rep group in Chicago that had 2 reps that consistently wrote orders for me…daily. They came on board in September and contributed greatly to my huge 4th qtr growth last year. I’m hoping for the same kind of miracle for both the 3rd and 4th qtrs this year. Unfortunately they are no longer repping my line. A friend had warned me of the fickleness of reps. There’s got to be an easier way, I believe, yet I have’t found it.
The challenge of finding reps has me involved in many conversations with buyers asking for referrals, with reps asking for referrals, and with anyone that may have an idea for me! I hired a consultant thinking once I did that I’d have reps across the country in no time. NOT! I’ve mailed out many packages, followed up with emails and voice mails and wondered…I’ve gotten excited and then deflated as I hear “your line looks lovely but we’re not adding any Stationery lines at this time”….or some variation of that phrase. I’ve heard more times that not that the paper industry is changing (ALL industries are changing)…so much. I’ve questioned my sanity and wondered if “W&W around the world…enriching and inspiring”…is really a dream I should continue to chase. And then I’ll receive a reorder or new order from an existing rep and I think…THIS WILL WORK. I just have to keep positive and know that I’ll find the right reps for W&W.
It’s now the end of July and I still have quite a bit of states left to pin on a map with “coverage” but I’m getting there…Just this week I’ve added TOLA (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas) and someone who covers NY and NJ. I’m sure I’ll be massaging this rep network for years. I’ve learned that just because you have reps there’s no guarantee you’ll get orders! So the challenge continues but this morning I received a fax from one of the new NE reps…an order for a store called “The Hoot” in Willimantic, CT. Thanks to Cindy Ciukenda, rep with Smith Russell group, I’m feeling optimistic today!!