Revman Industries said it used to get service complaints from small retailers, but has since cleaned up its act. Today, Revman has a customer-service representative to only handle smaller accounts. The situation “requires someone who can give it a personal touch, because these small customers are regular,” said Don Dillinger, national sales manager. “They pay their bill on time. It’s just that they don’t order in large quantities.”
Still, Dillinger said small linens stores are “very good customers” that represent a substantial amount of business for Revman. “All they ask is a reasonable response to their needs,” he said. “If you tell them orders can be filled in four or five weeks, it’s fine. They just don’t want (orders) to be pushed out to 10, 12 or 14 weeks – or forgotten entirely.”
Croscill Home Fashions is determined to “dance with the fella that brung it,” said Doug Kahn, president of Royal Home Fashions, the company’s manufacturing and distribution arm. “Our business was initially built on the strength of a lot of mom-and-pop stores and, while we don’t give preference to them, we do try to remember where we came from,” he said. Croscill’s systems are sophisticated enough to handle large and small accounts equally well, Kahn contended. Large accounts, he noted, often ask the company to ship orders to their consolidation centers, but others want the goods shipped directly to their stores.
Crown Crafts maintains it views all customers as the same. “The reality is that everybody’s important to you,” said Rudy Schmatz, senior vice president of sales and marketing.
Case in point: The company increased its throw production 80 percent this year compared with i 1993, yet was still unable to meet total demand. To get the goods out “uniformly across the board,” Crown Crafts went from delivering complete shipments to delivering partial shipments, a week late to every account. When the gap between supply and demand widened further, the company began shipping accounts a percentage of their order, the balance within two weeks. “We do that no matter where throws are placed,” Schmatz said.
Nevertheless, big orders are often easier to ship than small orders because of the “long runs and continuous flow-through packaging and shipping,” Schmatz conceded. “But we stress to the plant to ship all orders” he said. “We can’t forget get about little guys because most Goodwin Weavers customers are small gift shop – thousands and thousands of them.” Goodwin Weavers is a division of Crown Crafts.