How choosing the right vendor partners can help your brand go a long way in 2020.
No franchise brand is an island, which is why choosing the right vendor partners for their individual needs is so crucial. Not only do vendor partners provide support for a brand, but they also play an important role in supporting franchisees, making the need for brands to thoroughly vet prospective vendor partners before signing on the dotted line that much more significant.
Dave Foster, VP of Development for CARSTAR, and James Williams, CEO of Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, both have experience making important decisions in regard to vendor partnerships on behalf of the brands they represent. As once-emerging-yet-now-established franchises, the experience taught CARSTAR and Mayweather Boxing + Fitness valuable lessons that can benefit other emerging brands currently looking to build buzz.
As an auto body repair franchise, CARSTARS’s vendor partners include paint partners. Foster noted that the brand utilizes three American and three Canadian partners to support its franchisees in each country, one of which includes Sherwin-Williams.
“[Our paint vendor partmers] support us in our Discovery Days by helping us understand the different marketplaces,” Foster said, adding that paint partners also “help us drive new prospects to those Discovery Days” through communicating the benefits of CARSTAR.
“Our vendors are integral to our system,” Foster said.
Foster’s advice to emerging franchise brands is to choose vendor partners who will be in line with their mission and values. “You really have to align with people that believe in what you’re doing and buy into your program,” he said.
For Williams, choosing vendor partners was also something that required great care.
“At Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, we select vendor partners as carefully as we select our franchisees,” he wrote in an email. “We are trusted custodians of a very powerful brand that has taken over 20 years to build, and that is something incredibly important to us. Our vendors are an extension of Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, so we must have full confidence that they are going to provide the gold standard of service that is our foundation and brand ethos.”
The fitness brand founded by professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. has a thorough screening process with new vendors. It uses its flagship location as a “true research and development studio” and first tests vendor products there, according to Williams.
“We only bring on a vendor once they have been fully vetted with precise processes that have a proven track record for our specific application,” he wrote. “We build strong and lasting relationships with our vendors the same way we do with our franchisees. We want to be sure that we align outside of just the business relationship. They need to be people that we connect with on a human level, as well.”
One of Mayweather Boxing + Fitness’ vendor partners, the equipment-manufacturing company Throwdown, has been a partner with since the brand’s inception, according to Williams.
“Some of the benefits they have brought to Mayweather Boxing + Fitness include incredibly simple processes, consistent service and innovation, and scalability,” Williams wrote in an email, adding that the company provides much of the brand’s studio fitness equipment with full, white-glove service.
“[Throwdown] manages the entire logistics process, removing the onus and stress from the franchisee,” Williams wrote. “They have designed custom equipment and soft goods for us while also continuing to bring pre-market product offerings to our attention on a regular basis. The quality of product and level of customer service for our franchisees has been second-to-none, allowing our franchisees to focus on the core aspects of their business even more effectively.”
Williams also had advice for emerging brands that are selecting vendor partners: remember that those you choose are an extension of your own brand.
“As a franchisor, no matter how much support you provide a franchisee, if a vendor fails to deliver, it falls squarely on the franchisor,” he wrote. “A franchisor must be able to trust their vendors to uphold the same service quality and overall business ethics as they do. They need to understand that this is more than just a transaction – it is a deep, relationship-based, customer service-focused business where the long-term success of the franchisee must be the main focus."