Representing the very best

What Does A Rep Do For A Living?

It has come to our attention that there is little mention of the role of an Independent Manufacturer’s Representative on the pages of Interior Construction. How many of us have heard, “they are just a ten percenter”, or your commission check is referred to as profit!

Many of us realize how many years a representative may work on a project before it is released for bidding, with no guarantee of success, or any subsequent compensation. This column is intended to help all CISCA Members realize and appreciate the work that often goes into a project before “it hits the street”, and the role the independent representative plays in the process.

Do you know what a professional Manufacturer’s Representative does for a living? Our function is to benefit the firms that we represent who hire a representative in lieu of a company paid salesforce. This is an obvious benefit, for it eliminates fixed overhead and takes advantage of the synergy available with a multi line representative. Also, a knowledgeable representative knows their architectural community and the specific products that would be appropriate for each firm, leading to maximum promotional impact with minimum wasted effort.

Typically, A Representative’s responsibilities include:

  • Locating projects in the conceptual or early design phases, utilizing Dodge Reports, CMD or referrals, and contacting the architectural firm for an appointment.
  • Presenting our principal company’s appropriate products and concepts to the architect and owner during the preliminary design phase. Listening to them.
  • Assisting the architect in the selection, modification and detailing of the products during the preliminary design and working drawing phase.
  • Assisting the client in specification preparation and technical research during the final working drawing and pre bid phase.
  • Securing samples and details, coordinating all product modifications, and working with the manufacturer to create solutions for the project. Coordination with other consultants.
  • Furnishing the manufacturer with appropriate bid documents, assisting in preparation of material quotations and furnishing all bidders with quotations and required details.
  • Engaging in price negotiations with contractors and securing purchase orders.
  • Submitting samples and literature for approval.
  • Coordinating the placing of orders with the manufacturer and the contractor.
  • Following up on shipments.
  • Troubleshooting throughout construction, attending job meetings, and assisting in training of field personnel.
  • Assisting in collection of invoices.
  • If and when the invoices are paid, hopefully, receiving a commission.

The elapsed time of this process is often two to four years, with all expenses and overhead paid by the representative company.

Independent manufacturer’s representatives often have a very large investment in their business, a fact that is not commonly acknowledged in our industry. Offices, salaries, automobiles, insurance, workmen’s compensation, communication, computers etc. Commissions received are not “profit”, but a contribution to overhead, as in all other businesses. It takes years of investment to create a successful enterprise.

This is an opportunity to put our best foot forward and to enlighten our fellow CISCA Members as to the vital role played by Independent Representatives. We have often heard, “what does CISCA do for me”? This column is a first step in presenting a platform for representatives. It is an opportunity to educate our industry of the vital role played by representatives.

It is very important that Independent representatives belong to CISCA. We will be expanding the benefits of membership to increase our visibility. Do you know that 80% of CISCA Member Manufacturer’s use Independent Manufacturer’s Representative’s to go to market? How can you be in this business and not be a member of CISCA.

Any organization is only as effective as we make it. Talk to your friends and associates. Join CISCA, and contiribute to Interior Construction.

We will be accepting entries for this column from any CISCA Independent Manufacturer’s Representative. The column is limited to 750 words and a project or representativespos; photograph is encouraged. We want a detailed story of your success, and how each member of the team was involved. Submit all entries to CISCA Rep Corner at CISCA Headquarters.

Did you notice that no Independent Manufacture’s Representative was mentioned or included in the presentation of the CISCA Annual Award of Excellence? That is our fault. We can make a difference!

Please take a moment to send in your application, please notice the new payment options, we cannot afford to be on the sidelines. Join today!

William L. Shannon CSI, CISCA
President of Shannon Corporation
Recipient of the 2004 De Gelleke Award