T

he relationship between retailer and manufacturer can be a knotty one. Even Shimano, a manufacturer that produces some 50% of bike components in the world, hasn’t yet achieved sublime symbiosis with their dealers. Because it’s complicated.

It’s important that brands like Shimano communicate exhaustively with their retailers so they understand their product, usually through clinics and seminars, but those lessons can seem obtrusive or overly self-serving. Not to mention, you can feed an employee all the facts and figures in the world, but if they’re lacking soft skills, they still won’t be able to sell the product.

Retailers and manufacturers need a nonpartisan party to act as a bridge between them, someone with insight into both sides that can create a solution to suit them both. That’s where The Mann Group comes in.

Facilitated by The Mann Group, dealer panels fortify both retailers and manufacturers, and the relationships between and among them. When hosted by a brand like Shimano, a dealer panel

not only legitimizes the ethical intentions of the brand by proving they’re willing to invest in their retailers, it also helps dealers improve their approach and, by effect, their sales.

“We had worked with the Mann Group for a year or so before embarking on the dealer panel,” remembers Nolan Moser, Assistant Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Shimano American Corporation.

“We chose to use The Mann Group for our dealer panel as we wanted to create a dealer panel with focus on adding value to our dealers in the way they conduct business. As a brand, it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to push your own agenda; by having an independent monitor, we assured that we can add value to the dealers and use this as a learning process for Shimano.”

It may seem a dangerous idea, putting competing retailers together in a room, but the effect is demonstrably positive. We all have so much to learn from each other, and with the aid of The Mann Group, we can do so. “Since starting the dealer panel, our internal team has a better understanding of bicycle retail in general. We have also been able to apply learnings from this group to the other retailers that we work with. The most rewarding part of the experience has been seeing businesses on our panel take some of the learnings and apply them to their business to make their businesses much stronger.”

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