In this day and age retail businesses are having to change their approach to selling to adapt with society from the norm of 10-20 years ago. With the rise of the internet and a virtual marketplace if you are to survive, embracing it is a necessity.
However, for Linntec, who began trading 10 years ago, Managing Director Ron Linn decided to position his car care business online as he saw the potential of the internet as he explains:
“I started the business as a hobby, and we realised that the internet was vast and you could get your products out there far better than a small shop in the middle of Dewsbury.
“A lot of these waxes you couldn’t buy in a shop, as they were quite niche. What we found alongside the internet sales was a number of other internet companies wanting us to supply them, and that was the way it started really. We started supplying them directly, which saved them sourcing small amounts. In the end we decided to wholesale to the retail market instead, and since then the whole thing has progressed.
“Now we supply to shops, independents and buying groups such as A1, Dingbro, and Wilco Motosave. We deal with businesses which range from 300 shops down to one or two shops, as well as supplying internet companies.”
Ron started the business as a hobby, but both Stewart and himself began their careers as engineers, and the one area that sparked their interest in car care was their involvement in motorsport, with Stewart tasting victory in the 2008 British GT4 Championship, and Linntec advertising Invisible Glass most recently on the car they run in the Ginetta Supercup. “Certainly from my perspective I enjoyed doing it. I was busy during the week with the racing team and the engineering,” said Stewart. “And at the weekend it was a chance to try some different products and try some different waxes, and we enjoyed cleaning and looking after the cars.”
The decision to become a wholesaler was the next step for Linntec. When son and Director Stewart Linn joined the company four years ago, the company had become a wholesaler, sourcing car care products from America for distribution in the UK, Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Despite the international distribution network that Linntec has developed, both Ron and Stewart say that the secret to their success is down to three simple philosophies – good quality products, a good understanding of what retailers want and giving good service.
Stewart explained: “What we have learned from the retail side of things we have applied to the wholesale side of things. We like to think we know what a retailer wants. We took into account what annoyed us, such as when somebody had sold out of things, or if it took forever to arrive etc, so we took that and applied it to our business. We want to make sure they don’t have the same complaints we had early doors.”
He added that they didn’t want to alienate the smaller retailers they dealt with either, so Linntec offers flexibility on the way they supply.
Ron adds: “We try to be as flexible as we can. We used to get frustrated when people told us we had to buy £2000 or nothing, a full case or you have got to take 50 of this and 50 of that. You just don’t know how it is going to go, so that is the viewpoint we have been trying to get across to look after the customer. A lot of retailers will continue with us, because we have helped them to begin with. Retailers think that is great, and they stick with us because we have helped them when they were small and growing.”
Service is the only real element that has changed vastly over the years that Linntec has been in business, with the demand to have stock and offer quick delivery becoming more intense. This led the business to investigate the best way to control costs and offer their customers the best service.
Stewart adds that Linntec has reverted back to its original courier, as it was the only one who gave the service that their customers wanted, even though they are more expensive than others, adding: “Somebody can now ring up and ask us when their products will arrive, as we book hourly slots. That is a big one for us, as it makes a difference to the retailers, as more and more are going online, and as a result are dealing with a different type of customer.”