FAISAL says … What dealers want

Here’s Faisal Sheik, our new columnist. He’s a dealer who just wants a level playing field for the independents and the chance to make lots of money. He knows what dealers want – and he isn’t afraid to say so.

Confession time: I am a Manchester United supporter. I’ve been a red since 1984, all through the dark days of the 80s, the great highs of the 90s and up to the present, where I was one of the many fans vehemently opposed to the takeover by Malcolm Glazer. Glazer’s pursuit of United was painful for fans. It meant our club was no longer about a football team, but was now a business, a brand, something to be exploited.

Sell the brand
Many fans resent that word ‘brand’; it represents everything we didn’t want Manchester United to become. However, it’s a word I have fallen in love with …in a strictly non-footballing context.As a director of a small London-based dealership, we’ve come into a market dominated by some very big names with huge recognition.

For a small company like Fone Doctors to stay competitive in such an environment, branding and marketing is vital. It’s all about how we position ourselves. Our brand says a lot about us, and the same is true for many other small dealers. It tells our customers that we’re just a wee bit more personal than some of the bigger guys.

Marketing matters

That’s why it’s so important for us to have a good marketing campaign. However, when your marketing campaign involves selling mobile phone contracts, planning often has to be done with one hand tied behind your back.

Example: when T-Mobile launched FlexT, we decided we’d advertise our tariffs offerings on a flyer which we’d have available from 1st March. We wanted to highlight some T-Mobile deals, but also deals from other networks. Unfortunately it never got off the ground. Why? Because the pricing information from the networks took too long to arrive. As usual.

Our distributor Hugh Symons got us T-Mobile pricing by 24th February, which might just have given us time to produce a flyer, but we didn’t get confirmed information from the other networks until; 28thFebruary.
This is not the first time it’s happened. Every month is the same – the information will come through on the last day of the preceding month, or maybe the first of the month, or in some cases even later.

This is an issue for all distributors, across all the networks. It really messes up our whole planning: when the pricing is late, the posters are going to be late, your in-store pricing materials are going to be late, and
so on …

What we want from every network is a simple commitment that they will get pricing information to every distributor by the middle of the month, and ensure the distributors pass it on to every dealer by the 21st of
every month.

The C word
Things work well when we work together and when we give each other the right support. Getting pricing to us on time is a vital part of that. Networks and Distributors shouldn’t be scared of the “c” word, for it’s only through collaboration, that we’ll deliver results. But it’s also about dealers coming together.

Things like late pricing information affect every dealer, so it’s something we need to raise collectively. We don’t currently have a platform to share opinions or voice our concerns with a united voice. Mobile Business has taken a step in the right direction with its new dealer forum, a web place for moans, gripes, and general chat.

Bizarrely the Mobile Business blokes have called it “Ask Faisal!”, but it’s more like “Talk to Faisal” or maybe “Talk to each other” … [ok, we might change the name – Ed] Anyway, this could be the start of something good. Please do make use of this opportunity. Go to www.mbmagazine.co.uk and click on the big red box.

And this column will only work with your input. Send your thoughts, comments, opinions and moans to faisal@mbmagazine.co.uk. And if you can’t send opinions, send Jaffa cakes! Hasta pronto!

DEAL DOSSIER
THIS MONTH’S TOP THREE DEALS
1 T-Mobile FlexT 35 with Web ‘n’ Walk on MDA Vario: £35 plus £7.50 totals £42.50pm, gives £180 value for calls and messages and unlimited data!
Earn £80 (basic) plus Web ‘n’ Walk commissions on an 18-month contract.
2 3 Video with Talk & Text 1100
on Nokia 6280: £22.50pm for six months, then £45pm for a great all-you-can-eat-bundle! l Earn £97 (basic) on an 18-month contract
3 Orange YourPlan 300 with the SPV C550: £40pm may not be great value, but with the excellent C550 costing only £120 trade it’s good value all round! l Earn £160 (basic) on a 12-month contract

GRIPE LINE
THIS MONTH’S TOP THREE GRIPES
Networks can’t get us pricing in time
Lack of responsibility, in terms of customer ownership. All customers are industry customers.
No formal industry body to represent the independent dealers
TOP JAFFA THIS MONTH’S JAFFA CAKE GOES TO:
Sophie Vincent from Hugh Symons for putting together the very well planned Unity Seminar last month.