If you’re a manufacturer or distributor all you hear these days is how much our business is changing. Distributors are buying up each other, creating a handful of powerhouse beauty product suppliers. It’s an evolution that puts a lot of pressure on manufacturers, especially when a distributor that carries their line merges with one that doesn’t and they find themselves out on the street. How does all this affect you as a salon owner or nail technician? It affects your choices, your ability to run a profitable business, and ultimately your bottom line, now and in the future.

When big distributors become even bigger, nail products often become less important in the distributors’ overall strategy. They may not devote the sales resources, the shelf space, the training time, etc., to nail products. Big companies or truly unique products can survive that environment, but many second-tier and smaller companies have found themselves out of a distributor’s rotation after a merger. If that happens to be your distributor, you now have to find a new place to buy a favorite product. Although distributors will tell you that their growth and size avails to you more choices, it actually lessens your choices. You either switch and buy the products they carry, find an alternative source, or buy mail order or from an alternative distributor (like a van). Or you might find buying products over the Internet enticing. Distributors insist that they will not tolerate their manufacturers selling products on the Internet and bypassing the distributor. Manufacturers insist that they will cut off any distributor that sells out of their territory, but at a point, all these rules make it impractical for a nail technician trying to make her product shopping convenient. Won’t she start buying from the most convenient source? Isn’t that precisely why beauty supply stores have become the most popular way to buy products for nail techs?

And if you can’t get a full-service distributor’s sales consultant to visit your salon or offer nail training, won’t you find another way of getting those important services? Again, if someone offers them via the Internet or independently, you’ll go where they’re available.

Yes, it’s changing all right. But don’t feel like you haven’t a say in how it changes. Choose your manufacturers and distributors with care. Insist that they provide you with high-quality products, education, service, and follow-up. Their business depends on you. If they don’t take care of you, someone else will.

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