Worried a freelance rep. will steal my business

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by alan.price, May 2, 2019.

  1. alan.price

    alan.price UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    Please help!

    I have a tiny two man business and need to reach customers at the other end of the country. I cannot afford full time reps. company cars etc. so I am considering finding a freelance rep. who already sells into my industry, that can sell my main product when he meets buyers. My problem is that we cannot get exclusive UK rights to this product and I'm worried that the rep. will simply bypass us and import the product himself and sell it on. Do you think my fears are unfounded, or are there any ways I can protect from this?

    Also, as I am new to this I do not know what commission I should offer. The product sells for about £2,200 with an overall profit of £900.
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: alan.price Member since: May 2, 2019
    #1
  2. MY OFFICE IN CHINA

    MY OFFICE IN CHINA UKBF Big Shot Full Member

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    If you don't have UK exclusive rights to the product, then you leave yourself open to be by-passed by not only the freelancer rep you want to employ, but anybody who sees your product and can buy direct from the supplier (saving £900).

    Can you adapt/add/amend the product to be sufficiently different?

    Can you add a brand and change the packaging?

    The other option is to speak to a legal person and see if a contract can be drafted with the freelance rep that will protect your interests.

    How do the other importers of the same product protect their interests?
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: MY OFFICE IN CHINA Member since: Nov 16, 2011
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  3. alan.price

    alan.price UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    Thanks for your quick reply. We only have one main competitor and they sell many products and can afford four full time reps who are on the payroll.
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: alan.price Member since: May 2, 2019
    #3
  4. MY OFFICE IN CHINA

    MY OFFICE IN CHINA UKBF Big Shot Full Member

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    Can you afford 1 full time rep, instead of using a freelancer which you will have little control over?

    Can you find more customers closer to home, rather than look at another part of the country?

    Can you add to your product range?

    Can you brand your product?

    In any business you will have competition, this should not prevent you to expand your own business.

    Start locally and spread out slowly, as and when you can afford to employ your own rep.
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: MY OFFICE IN CHINA Member since: Nov 16, 2011
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  5. alan.price

    alan.price UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    Thank you for your input. This is a specialised bit of kit sold to hospitals on an irregular basis. A rep. would have to visit many hospitals to get one sale so paying a full time rep. for this one product is not viable.

    Changing the branding is possible but as it is a very specialised market, a quick Google search would show where the original is from.

    Also we are trying to promote ourselves as experts in this field rather than diluting it by selling a myriad of unrelated products (like our competitor does).

    Sorry to sound so negative but this is how it is.
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: alan.price Member since: May 2, 2019
    #5
  6. MY OFFICE IN CHINA

    MY OFFICE IN CHINA UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    3,922 778
    It's not negative.

    You've hit the nail on the head . . . . .promote yourselves as experts and don't worry about your competitor who is selling a myriad of unrelated products.

    Your marketing material should be worked on to emphasise this point.

    I thought there would be numerous hospitals (and other possible establishments) for one rep to visit and look after from the South up to the Midlands.
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: MY OFFICE IN CHINA Member since: Nov 16, 2011
    #6
  7. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    13,643 1,497
    it is always a risk - either this rep or simply someone looking for products to sell and finding this product.
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
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  8. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend Free Member

    10,178 2,055
    Do you actually need a rep or is there anyway you can work without one, maybe better marketing, better website, video's are a great way of passing on details of products,


    Freelance reps are normally a poor buy in many area's as they only concentrate on the items that bring in the regular income and don’t want to go back again and again to make a sell, whilst hospitals etc tend to be very conservative in their buying and may require a few meeting as it goes up the line, where as marketing may open the first few doors and just require a visit to finish off which you could do


    I would expect you will waste many hours looking for a good freelance rep, and be disappointed with the result after a few months
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
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  9. alan.price

    alan.price UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    Thanks Guys, your ideas are much appreciated, and I think you are right, we should promote ourselves as the experts in the field (with better marketing) and let the hospital buyers find us!
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: alan.price Member since: May 2, 2019
    #9
  10. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    13,643 1,497
    or even do a fair bit by phone then make arrangements to have someone head into a certain area for a few days and meet up with various customers. yourself even.
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
    #10
  11. alan.price

    alan.price UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    That's an idea Robin.

    Can anyone suggest a good telephone marketing company that can handle the initial calls?
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: alan.price Member since: May 2, 2019
    #11
  12. estwig

    estwig UKBF Legend Full Member

    12,120 4,216
    If your going to supply leads, I'd be more worried about the rep stealing those, either selling them on, or selling something else to the prospect.

    A rep would be less interested in importing a product, especially if he can't back it up with a company behind him. Ultimately that line of worry leads to the prospect bypassing everyone and importing it themselves. Plus he's a sales rep, not an importer or business person.
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: estwig Member since: Sep 29, 2006
    #12
  13. James Johnson

    James Johnson UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    16 6
    Hi Al, can you run your business from a laptop from anywhere?
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: James Johnson Member since: Sep 23, 2018
    #13
  14. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Ace Full Member

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    For the most part I’d suggest any freelance agent will be too busy to go direct to source. However the biggie is to ensure you are adding some value to the process

    Is your product fully accredited by nhs?
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
    #14
  15. MY OFFICE IN CHINA

    MY OFFICE IN CHINA UKBF Big Shot Full Member

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    My experience is that hospitals (NHS) will have their own supply chain, so getting to know who their suppliers are might be your first port of call for your specific equipment/device, as long as they don't go direct to the supplier and cut you out.
     
    Posted: May 2, 2019 By: MY OFFICE IN CHINA Member since: Nov 16, 2011
    #15
  16. Darkterror

    Darkterror UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    28 3
    Why people want to hire staff for everything they can is out of my imagination really. There are some things in your business which you should do yourself, in current one milk it till it give any profit and then maybe do something else if that is set up like that.
     
    Posted: May 3, 2019 By: Darkterror Member since: Mar 17, 2019
    #16
  17. alan.price

    alan.price UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    Thanks for your further comments guys they are much appreciated and given me plenty of food for thought!
     
    Posted: May 3, 2019 By: alan.price Member since: May 2, 2019
    #17
  18. Financial-Modeller

    Financial-Modeller UKBF Regular Full Member

    252 71
    Surely the best way to get more face time with buyers at hospitals and to protect the relationship with your buyers is to employ someone (perhaps part-time) to research the market and book appointments via telephone and email for you (and/or your business partner) to meet with decision-makers and sell the product.

    Use a decent CRM tool to track the process, log leads etc.

    It sounds like a fairly fragile business model; having established that your product is actually somebody else's product, what would stop anybody contacting the supplier of your only product, then contacting hospitals and selling it?
     
    Posted: May 3, 2019 By: Financial-Modeller Member since: Jul 3, 2012
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  19. Paul FilmMaker

    Paul FilmMaker UKBF Contributor Free Member

    37 8
    What about a part-time rep? If you go somewhere like Mumsnet and ask around, you can hire someone who only wants to work 2 or 3 days per week.
     
    Posted: May 3, 2019 By: Paul FilmMaker Member since: Aug 29, 2018
    #19
  20. Stedurham

    Stedurham UKBF Regular Free Member

    311 41
    Yeah mumsnet everyone on there will be able to get you a contract in a hospital lol
     
    Posted: May 3, 2019 By: Stedurham Member since: May 11, 2018
    #20