Distribution & Dealers Expert Witness Shares Top Ten Mistakes To Avoid With Distributor Agreements – Part 4

In Avoiding the Top 10 Mistakes with Distributor Agreements, Glen Balzer, management and forensic consultant and expert witness in domestic and international marketing and sales, shares a checklist of ten common mistakes to avoid when drafting your next distributor agreement. Mistake #4 is entitled Exclusive or Nonexclusive.

Distributor franchises may be either exclusive, where there will be no other distributor franchised in the territory; or nonexclusive, where the new distributor might be one of several distributors franchised in the territory. Distributors sometimes make an appeal for an exclusive territory, arguing that without an exclusive territory, the distributor has no incentive to allocate adequate resources toward development of sales for the manufacturer. Once a supplier agrees to an exclusive territory, it forfeits the opportunity, for a period, to franchise an additional distributor. Assignment of an exclusive distributor in a territory represents an unnecessary leap of faith on the part of the supplier. One alternative to assigning an exclusive territory is to draft the distribution agreement in such a way that the distributor is nonexclusive, but to franchise only one distributor. A verbal understanding would suggest that if a supplier’s objectives were met, no additional distributor would be added to the nonexclusive territory. Such an arrangement provides encouragement for the distributor to perform without restricting options of the manufacturer.

Glen Balzer, President of New Era Consulting, can be reached at glen@neweraconsulting.com.