Distributors Stay Strong Despite a Weak Economy
Zavadil's insight into human nature and the fickle marketplace factored heavily in one of the company's own recent changes this past August, when the name officially became American Solutions for Business.
"The industry hasn't been about business forms for sometime," he said. "Now it's about everything else, and our new name reflects our diverse product and service offerings." Those offerings include printing, advertising specialty products, office, cleaning and safety supplies, corporate apparel, document management and e-commerce solutions. The name also accommodates individual sales associates' areas of expertise. For instance, the newly designed stationery might indicate that a particular office is a graphics communication company doing business as American Solutions for Business.
On occasion, Zavadil has had new sales associates remark that there is so much to sell, they're not sure where to begin. He advised them to start with what they're comfortable with, and gradually incorporate the new products and services that give customers solutions to grow the business. He acknowledged, however, that moving out of the comfort zone isn't always easy. "We all like to choose the path of least resistance," he said.
Some distributors are reluctant to offer customers new products for fear that any snafu could be detrimental to the relationship and previously established business. But Zavadil contended that if the distributor functions as an integral part of the customer's team—like an employee—when difficulties arise he or she will become the solution provider, rather than the problem source.
"When problems crop up the boss doesn't fire the employee, he grabs him by the nape of the neck and tells him to fix it," he jokingly observed.
"Anyone can handle success," concluded Zavadil, "It's how someone handles problems that counts, and the biggest problems are always about communication. It's the number one area to work on when things are not getting done."