Do you need an automotive manufacturer representative company? What do manufacturer representatives (commonly called “reps”) do and how do you pick a manufacturer rep? This guide helps you navigate the world of aftermarket rep agencies so you can find the best one for you.

What does an automotive manufacturer’s rep do?

A manufacturer sales rep, as you might guess, represents manufacturers. An automotive manufacturer representative calls on resellers on behalf of a manufacturer and performs sales-related services. This can start with a basic sales pitch that the reseller should carry the manufacturer’s products. In the automotive aftermarket, manufacturer’s products are “lines.” When a wholesale reseller adds a manufacturer’s products to their offering, it is known as adding it to the reseller’s “line card.”

automotive manufacturer representativeIf the reseller already sells that manufacturer’s products, a sales rep’s services include making the reseller aware of new products or new promotions. It also includes processing returns of defective or outdated product to the manufacturer. Manufacturer representatives also negotiate terms with the reseller. This includes any discounts, coop dollars, payment schedule, or shipping terms.

An automotive manufacturer rep prospects for new business for the manufacturer. In the automotive aftermarket, the rep will probably already work with a number of resellers so a manufacturer will know which resellers they will be able to reach by hiring a rep.

A manufacturer rep is the manufacturer’s remote sales force.

Simply put, hiring a manufacturer representative is the same as outsourcing your sales efforts. It is a more affordable way for a manufacturer to conduct face-to-face sales activities than hiring its own sales employees.

How do automotive manufacturer representatives get paid?

A manufacturing sales representative usually gets paid a commission based on sales. In the automotive aftermarket commissions range from 5% to 8%. Sometimes it will be as high as 10%. The commission is paid to the rep by the manufacturer. Common lingo in the aftermarket refers to the manufacturer as the “factory.”

Sales can be “net” sales (sales minus returns to the manufacturer) or can be “gross” sales (total sales volume without factoring in returns).

A commission is typically paid after some period of time passes. That can be 30 days but is more likely 60 to 90 days. This lets the manufacturer account for shipments to a reseller, account for any returns sent back, and a longer payment term helps the manufacturer’s cash flow.

Most manufacturer reps are employed by a manufacturer’s rep company. In this case, the payments are typically paid to the company, which in turn pays its employees, the sales reps. In the aftermarket these companies are referred to as “agencies.”

Manufacturer representative organizations

There are a number of professional organizations in the manufacturer representative industry. One of these is the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association, or MANA. Their website is a good resource to learn more about the profession. Another source is the Association of Independent Manufacturers/Representatives or AIM/R although they don’t have an automotive aftermarket category.

It is important to know in the automotive aftermarket, most representative companies will be members of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) or the Custom Automotive Network (CAN). Representative companies in Canada are likely to be members of AIA Canada. Memberships in these associations carry more legitimacy in the aftermarket than memberships in professional associations outside the aftermarket.

A list of manufacturers representative companies

We have a complete list of representative companies on AutomotiveAftermarket.org. Simply scroll down to see the list. In many cases a manufacturer representative company will indicate its specialty or geographic service area. We have tried to list a phone number or email contact when possible to make it easier for you to contact these companies.

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