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Wholesaling to Hospitality
Author: Allison B. Vought
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Do you have a successful retail product line? Do customers love your products and seek them out? If you answered yes but aren’t wholesaling to hotels, bed and breakfasts or vacation rentals, you might be leaving money on the table. There are a number of strategies to consider when it comes to wholesaling but the commonality is that wholesale prices are usually about half retail prices.

 Here are some reasons why:
  • Hospitality retailers need your product to make fiscal sense. Like you, they also have costs of doing business.
  • They remove the job of interacting with the public and all the associated expenses so you can focus on creating products.
  • Hospitality retailers buy in large quantities, rather than individual retail units, so it is more convenient to sell to them rather than direct to consumers.
  • Although your wholesale price is lower than what you charge consumers, you will have lower materials costs as a result of buying materials in bulk.
Before you scale up your manufacturing, you need systems in place to streamline your wholesale production process and lower your costs. Once you have these systems in place to produce on a larger scale and have negotiated pricing of your materials, it’s time to start calling on hospitality retailers and sell your products! Although wholesaling is not a one size fits all type of business, the following tips will help keep you focused.

1. Make Sure Your Products are a Fit
If you’re a soapmaker, you have something all hotels need. If, however, you specialize in vibrantly colored bath bombs or beard oil, you need to carefully choose which hospitality markets to approach to avoid wasting time. Put together a wish list of hotels, bed and breakfasts and vacation properties whose brand (or theme) compliments yours and whose clientele you understand. Is it national or regional, part of a chain or independent, large or small? You’ll have a much better success rate, and develop stronger relationships along the way.

2. Find Out Who is in Charge
Research who your best point of contact will be. Start by calling the reception desk and asking who is responsible for purchasing amenities and cleaning supplies. (LinkedIn usually offers a wealth of information.) Call their offices and follow up with an e-mail. Stop in personally with sample products. Everyone loves free samples and a “personal touch” goes a long way, but remember to label appropriately so the receiver knows where it came from and how to reach you. The most important step, though, is to follow up. Have a plan in place to reach out to those you’ve contacted for feedback. Very few accounts close the deal at the first follow up.

3. Ask the Right Questions
You’ve secured a meeting. Be prepared with specific, open questions; rather than “Are you happy with your current amenities supplier?” which leaves you stuck if the answer is “Yes”, ask the buyer “What gaps, challenges or issues do you currently have?” Find out if they go through reviews or renewals with their current suppliers, get a good understanding of how their processes and procedures work and get a good feel for the company culture.

4. Know Your Details
Have you ever watched Shark Tank and groaned when entrepreneurs trip over their facts and figures? Know your numbers, your bottom line and write down notes you can refer back to if you get stuck. Decide on the lowest price you’d be prepared to accept in advance – the hospitality industry is all about the bottom line and they’ll negotiate to get where they need the numbers to be. Stay firm, don’t trip yourself up and make sure to offer a fair price.

5. Be Unique
This is easy if you’re offering unicorn themed soaps. Its is much harder if your product is standard, vanilla fare. Stand out from your competition by offering attractive terms and conditions, discounted samples or a simplified payment system. Or, make housekeeping love you by offering attractive packaging that is easy to transport, stack and store.

6. Discuss Features, But Focus on Benefits
We want to show off a list of our product’s features, but that doesn't always close the deal. The buyer wants to know what the benefit is for them. How will it make their life easier? Attract more customers? Increase profits? Explaining how a feature will benefit them leads you to the ability to engage on a deeper, more emotional level. You’re selling a solution, not just a bar of soap.

7. Listen
No one wants to be sold to, so don’t rush in and tell the buyer everything you’re offering. Ask them what they need. Then listen. This allows you to match specific products with their needs and gives you more time to “interview” the buyer and learn how they operate.

8. Create Comfort
Even in this age of technology, people still buy from people. If you are genuine, confident in your product, knowledgeable and friendly, then you’re almost there. My favorite vendor is a woman named Kate. Her products are more expensive than the budget guy, but I’ll always use her because she provides top-notch service, provides samples without question and makes me feel valued. I trust her and she takes care of me. Why would I buy from anyone else?
 
9. Use Social Media
Have a solid online presence. Your business pages on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest can feature photos and reviews, offering potential buyers a real-time feel for what you’re all about, while showcasing your current products and alerting potential clients to new additions to your product line.

10. Get Ethical
The hospitality industry is under increasing pressure to improve their environmental performance. Detail any fair trade practices or ingredients, ways you’ve cut down on packaging and measures you’ve taken to reduce, reuse and recycle. These things may seem small-time, but they all help these businesses to support their own corporate responsibility policies while offering products that are more personal for their clients.





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