Turning down a sale is tough. After all, selling is what salespeople are trained and paid to do. But, if Multiplex can't provide foreign customers in remote locations with reliable 24-hour service for repairs of its automatic beverage dispensers, that's exactly what it does. "It's easy to sell and forget," says J.W. Kisling, CEO of the St. Louis-based company. "But broken-down equipment can badly damage a company's reputation. We saw an opportunity to compete by providing customers with service, and we've made that our niche."

To provide reliable service in unfamiliar territories, Multiplex contacts maintenance managers of major hotel chains that have established outlets in the area, and it asks them for recommendations of local repair services. Multiplex then checks the literacy rate of the company's employees, in addition to its financial stability and reputation for emergency repairs. "In developing countries like Nepal or Africa, where literacy rates are low and there aren't many refrigerators, finding someone who can read the manuals and has the proper experience is a priority for us," adds Mark Suddarth, international marketing manager for Multiplex.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing