Our first letter concerns a business whose growth is stymied by unreliable sales reps. A second company publishes books that could be sold to a huge market -- if the owner knew how to reach it. And a high-end contractor thinks the bank has him in a choke hold. These readers need your advice. In Resources this month, ([Article link]), our experts answer questions about finding a business to buy.
Taking a Licking
My company recently introduced a line of novelty watches that has been well received. I planned to develop a network of independent sales representatives who would make sales calls and run booths at trade shows in their territories. I found reps at trade shows and through ads and referrals and offered them a 15% commission. But so far, the reps' performances have disappointed me. Over the past six months I've gone through 25 reps. What am I doing wrong?
P.S. Dianne Inc.
Under a Bushel
My company publishes a series of self-help law books, including manuals on copyrights and trademarks. Everyone who discovers our books raves about them. The trouble is, most of our customers have to find out about us by accident. Our ad-vertising is rarely effective. We know there's a market out there. How can I target my market, and then how can I hit that target?
The Cupboard Is Bare
Since 1983 I have run a small contracting and cabinetry business. My company provides some of the finest high-end kitchen cabinetry in the Bay area, and that requires constant capital improvement -- machinery, computers, and other tools. The shop has grown to 6,000 square feet; volume has increased steadily and so has the quality of our work. I've managed all this with little help from banks. I've always felt that my bank is stifling my company's potential. Now I read your January Anatomy of a Start-up on Brad Brown's tree nursery ("Grown in Montana," [Article link]). My sales are greater than Mr. Brown's, and I can offer tangible collateral, but my credit line is nowhere near his. Can anyone tell me where to find that kind of money for my growing company? Seven years of building on a shoestring is getting old.
Lon B. Williams