But when manufacturers and vendors are looking at their partners and customers, many times no information is worse than getting the full story.
Dan Pike, vice president and general manager of the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers' Financial Services Group, or MFSG, says communication between distributors and their vendor partners isn't always as good as it should be. He says his company can help.
MEMA Financial Services Group's customers in many cases are the same manufacturers you do business with - companies such as ArvinMeritor, Bendix, Haldex, Delphi, Gates, Robert Bosch. Pike's staff provides those companies with credit and financial information on their existing or prospective customers - such as your distributorship. That information includes how well you pay your bills to other MFSG members, credit and financial reports, as well as news and general business overviews.
This may sound kind of scary, but Pike says distributors can use this to their advantage.
MEMA Financial Services Group, he says, can work with distributors to help them get important information to their manufacturer partners and vendors.
"By providing information to MFSG, the same story is going out to everybody, one time, instead of the distributor telling the same story 100 times," Pike says. That may be financial information, it may be news about management changes, or information about a new software program you're using that will change the ways your suppliers send you invoices and other important documents.
If you don't want your financial statements sent out in a full-blown report, he says, MFSG can work with distributors, using financial information provided on a confidential basis, to develop a less-detailed report on your company that the organization's manufacturer members can use. Such a report would be subject to your approval before going out.
But what if that information's not too flattering at the moment?
"The manufacturers would rather hear [from a customer] that times are tough, cash flow is tight, and this is what we're doing to cut expenses and to shape the business to remain at a break-even level - they would rather hear that than hear nothing," Pike says. "They would rather hear, business is down, we're suffering some losses, but our banks are behind us and we feel very good about the future of the business. They would rather hear something that's not as positive than not hear anything.
"If you don't hear anything, you always expect the worst. If they haven't heard anything and you're late paying, they often have a knee-jerk reaction because the communication hasn't happened."
MEMA Financial Services Group has been around since 1916, dealing only in the aftermarket. Distributors, Pike emphasizes, pay absolutely nothing. "This is something we do for the manufacturer," he says. "But we have to have a relationship with both sides if we're going to do our job effectively and efficiently."
For more information, go to www.memafsg.com or call Dan Pike at (919) 549-8400.