It is true that, at times, relationships in the distribution channel become strained. I have found in business that many times the partners trying to service end-users don't even pay each other a face-to-face visit. Given this approach, could one expect anything valuable to emerge from that relationship?

I have tried my hand at businesses other than equipment service and have not been successful. As a result, I have come to accept that the service business is the one I best understand and is that which I do best. Yes, I could learn to do something else but I also love the service business. I've heard those words, as well, from other channel partners speaking about their own professions in the industry. While large corporations are constantly venturing into new markets or new segments of their existing market, over the years we find most of them pulling back to their core businesses because that is what they know how to do the best.

We in the service industry are in a very privileged spot. We get to care for end-user customers and their equipment through the life of the pieces and/or the life of the operation, whichever comes first. That gives us a unique responsibility to many people ... not just to our customers. We are also responsible to the manufacturer of the equipment; no manufactured product is ever perfect and even the best equipment will have some problems. When these problems are taken care of promptly and competently, we help to maintain a positive image for products and their manufacturers in the mind of the involved operators. A rep who is trying to promote a product in the distribution chain will have a very tough time if the item gains a reputation for being quick to break or difficult to service and keep running properly. And, of course, the dealers who must expend their sales efforts to convince customers to purchase new equipment in the first place and, hopefully, also buy replacement pieces, can be aided or set back based on a servicer's comments to end-users about a product. The credibility of a dealer may be so compromised by a customer's awareness of poor service-ability or durability that it could permanently injure the firm's relationship and make it extremely difficult if not impossible to sell anything to that end-user in the future.

We help to maintain a positive image for products and their manufacturers in the mind of the involved operators.

A good service company will support the needs of all these channel partners - customers, manufacturers, reps and dealers. Of course, we cannot perform our services for free or even at break even and, at times, this is where friction begins. There have been times when my company has "eaten" the cost of servicing a customer because that end-user said the problem was the dealer's responsibility, which the dealer denied; the manufacturer felt the equipment was not covered under its warranty; and the contractor was long-gone. Granted, if the repair was in the thousands of dollars or even half of that, we might take it further but, many times, we just decide to eat it and go on. This is something that all service companies do for their channel partners, a fact which often doesn't receive proper recognition.

In truth, if each of us was managing our operation and driving it to be the most successful it could be, none of us would have time to get deeply involved in anything that wasn't a part of our core business. In sum, if we would just concentrate on the business we know best and commit to supporting the channel partners in our industry, ultimately all our customers would be better for it.