How to Get Product into True Value
The history of True Value began with the co-op’s founder, John Cotter. Having started his career at a neighborhood hardware store at age 12, Cotter would continue to build on his strong roots and grow as an industry leader.
In 1948, he founded Cotter & Company, a retailer-owned cooperative that included 25 independently owned and operated member stores. With the purchase of Hibbard, Spencer and Bartlett in 1963, Cotter not only acquired the company, but also the True Value trademark – a long-standing brand and presence since 1932.
The co-op’s commitment to its membership was furthered in 1997 when Servistar Coast to Coast – merged with Cotter and Company. The alliance formed one of the industry’s largest dealer-owned buying groups.
Today, True Value Company, under the leadership of President and CEO John Hartmann is committed to an aggressive plan for growth, and ensuring the future success of its diverse family of retailers and associates. As one of the world’s largest retailer-owned hardware cooperatives, True Value represents independent retailer locations in over 60 countries with retail sales in their communities totaling about $5.5 billion with 13 regional distribution centers and approximately 2,500 True Value Associates.
True Value’s family of retailers and associates are the foundation of their success. In an age of retail chains and big boxes, they understand that customers still value quality products, exceptional service and expert advice. True Value is a company with a proud heritage of supporting the growth and success of independent retailers — it’s the reason why their cooperative was founded. This diverse group of retailers operates True Value stores and specialty businesses in thousands of communities in the United States and around the globe. And their associates are equipped to provide them with the resources and support they require to make their company’s vision a reality: To help every True Value be the best hardware store in town.
True Value Foundation
Their cooperative also gives back to the communities in which they live and work. True Value Foundation is focusing its primary efforts on underserved youth, and improving the lives of children, with an emphasis on education and community vitality.
Contact Mr. Checkout Distributors
At any time, there are hundreds of brands who are knocking on a retail buyers door in an attempt to get on their shelves. If you’re a small company or still trying to make a name for yourself in the industry, it’s best to contact Mr. Checkout Distributors who already have strong relationships with big box retailers around the country.
Mr. Checkout Distributors are always on the lookout for new products that have good margins and are ready for retail. When you put your trust in the experts, you have more time to focus on your business instead of worrying about fine tuning a last minute sales pitch to buyers.
How to get your product into True Value
- Understand you client: Before you spend a lot of time and money creating a product, you should know if anyone will want to buy it. Learn more about Market Research
- Learn if it’s protectable: Know if you can defend your product against cheap copies if it gets knocked off. Learn more about Copyright and Patent your product
- Test your product: Make sure that there’s a demand for your product and the customer understands what you are selling when it’s on the shelf and nobody is there to explain it. Learn more about Product Testing
- Perfect your pitch: Before you speak to decision makers, know your numbers, know your retailer and know your logistics in and out. Learn more about Pitching Your Product
- Don’t do it alone: If you haven’t been successful in retail before, a secret of success is that you can’t do it alone. Having great sales staff, customer support and marketing partners can take you from zero to success faster than if you tried on your own. Learn more about Retail Partnerships
Contact True Value Buyer
Do not trust any “list” of buyers.
Typically retail buyers change either companies or positions every few years. This strategy helps retailers know that their buyers are not taking “kick-backs” and are selecting the very best product for the very best position each time.
Buyers are typically held to a very rigorous standard of sell-through volume that they must hit and because of this they are risk averse. Your job as a supplier or vendor is to convince them that the buyers going into the stores not only know about what you’re selling but are actively seeking the product in the store currently.
Sometimes easier said than done, however you must get on True Value radar.
Call the True Value corporate phone number and ask for the names of the buyer and assistant buyers in your category.
Always leave voicemail with whomever the dispatch will connect you.
Use that information to connect with them on LinkedIn, RangeMe and any other professional social platform.
Ask your representative at your trade bureau to connect you to the True Value buyers as they will potentially have a better history.
Use advertising, public relations and marketing to make your brand known to True Value buyer through 3rd party websites & industry media sources.
Be everywhere that they look, the key is to position your brand as the obvious choice when True Value is looking to either refill a slot or create a new category.
Latch on to the news of the day and any trend that will make your product fill that niche whether that be Non-GMO or Vegan Leather for example.
Investing in your brand can only benefit your opportunities in the future. As being “top of mind” will have a ripple effect when you physically present your product at a True Value buyers meeting or trade show in the future.
True Value buyers typically got to their position by picking “winners” and know how to see through the fluff.
Focus on the numbers, know your bottom dollar during a negotiation and how fees and chargebacks may cut into your position.
Know that long term success may outweigh short term sales, however financing large purchase orders from True Value when the net result is negative is not sustainable.
Understand the playing field and the other brands that are in your space, what they are offering as promotion and pricing and how you can stand out against them.
By knowing that each buyer at True Value probably knows more than you do, take an active listening approach to sales and understand that no is a perfectly acceptable answer that may have saved you millions of dollars on the backend.
How to Submit a Product to True Value
Here are the 6 steps you need to take to have your product placed in True Value.
1. Start with the right questions.) Before you try distributing your product to True Value, you need to ask yourself a few basic questions. Do you need to build demand for your product, or is there already a demand for it? Do you know that True Value would be interested in selling your product? If you can strike a deal with True Value, can you handle the production volume? Do you want to sell directly to True Value, or do you want to license your product to a manufacturer that will handle distribution?
2. Be prepared to profit.) Does your product offer enough of a profit margin for True Value? Can you sell your product at a reasonable enough profit to cover the packaging, shipping, commissions, marketing and wholesale distribution? Check True Value guidelines for other fees that you will have to build into the cost of your product in order for you to be able to turn enough of a profit to make the effort worth your while. If you work with a discount retailer, they will try to strip your profits down to zero in order to keep their prices as low as possible.
The typical breakdown of margins are: If a products costs $1 to produce, that product will retail for $4. That product that retails for $4 will wholesale for $2 to distributors and stores that purchase direct. Big box retailers like True Value may offer to pay $1.25 to the manufacturer if the product costs $1 to produce. That is the typical profit margin.
3. Determine if True Value is the right store for your product.) The relationship between you and True Value starts with you browsing their store for competing products. If True Value already has a similar product, it is going to be very difficult to get your product picked up. Spend some time at your local True Value to see what kind of products they are selling, speak to the manager and see if he thinks your product will sell well in their store. Picture in which zone your product would best fit on the shelf and keep in mind that the most precious asset that these big box stores value are their shelf space. Keep this information in mind when you are preparing your presentation to True Value.
If your company is minority or women owned, check True Value website and see if they offer specific opportunities for those designations.
4. Pitch your product to True Value.) Decide whether it will be you or a representative to present your product to True Value. Your presentation depends heavily on your strengths as a businessperson as they will most likely ask financial questions and logistics questions.
It’s common for companies to hire a broker to pitch their product to True Value, as it will be more likely that your product will make it to the next stage if the individual pitching your product has industry knowledge or a personal relationship with True Value. The percentage of commission verses, however generally a broker will take around 5% to represent your product to True Value.
We at Mr. Checkout have experience dealing with brokers and know that there are several retail brokers that have poor business practices that can potentially damage your brand. If you are seeking a legitimate True Value broker, please give us a call for a recommendation. It could save you a huge headache and a lot of money.
5. Complete the required True Value paperwork.) Often True Value will have you go through an application process. However, before submitting the paperwork required by True Value, you should contact a buyer at True Value and let them know your intentions. Having a contact inside of the company will potentially move your application more smoothly through the process.
6. Anticipate the need for increased volume.) Having True Value agree to stock your product will most likely mean a significant increase in volume. You should be prepared to ramp up your production and informing your manufacturer of this opportunity.
Having production, logistics and distribution to sync is not only difficult, it requires a significant amount of time invested in customer relations. Also, True Value may have stipulations in the contract that may penalize you for delays in shipping and production. Have an attorney explain all contracts to you if you don’t understand the terms.
If you’re looking to sell your product to True Value, be sure to thoroughly assess the marketplace, carefully prepare for production growth, and take full advantage of resources available to help you grow your business.
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