In Search of the Perfect Customer: Cost-to-Serve for Distributors

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This research study is published by the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence, a leading publisher of research exclusively for and about the wholesale distribution industry. More>>

Brent R. Grover

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PROS is a valued NAW Sponsor

Protect your most profitable, high-growth potential customers and avoid squandering your precious resources.

If your sales compensation plan and other policies encourage your staff to misspend their time and your resources on the wrong customers, now is the time to act. If your company is overlooking opportunities to make money and stop profit leakage, this is the book for you!

Who are your perfect customers who could be your most profitable customers?

Perfect customers place profitable orders, at least most of the time. With perfect customers, the critical variables that make customers either profitable or unprofitable are in balance: order size, product and service mix, asset efficiency and gross margin. You’ll make most of your profits from your perfect customers and you’ll lose money on some of your largest accounts. The key is to ameliorate your pool of customers so that you have more perfect customers!

The good news is that, armed with the right data and good tools, you can improve some of your less-than-perfect customers and make them better over time. In other words, you can create your own perfect customers! One of the tools is cost-to-serve, which is the application of customer profitability analysis to calibrate precisely which services each customer needs—no more, no less—and to know your costs to make sure that your company is duly paid.

After you read this book, you’ll be better equipped to

• assign your people and assets to the most profitable and fastest-growing customer segments
• tailor your services to precisely meet the needs of your most valuable customers and avoid overserving your other customers
• ensure that your company is paid for the extra services that you provide to specific customers
• adjust your pricing to create shareholder value as well as customer value
• zero in your company’s strategy on your customers that contribute the most to your bottom line.

What Readers Have to Say

“Great read. Our margins have tightened and our costs have increased. I needed a guide on what to measure. This book spells out what needs to happen in most aspects of measurement and performance standards. It showed me where I need to focus my attention to meet the challenges we'll face in coming years. This book is exactly what I needed.”

Michael Murphy, President, W.A. Birdsall & Co.

“This book is perfectly timed to aid wholesaler-distributors in simplifying the complexities associated with the ever-changing business model—shrinking margins, increasing costs, and slow sales. The chapters build a foundation of relevant, pertinent, and accurate information. Our leadership team uses this book in our annual planning process, and I recommend it to all wholesaler-distributors.”

George Pattee, Chairman, Parksite Inc.


Brent R. Grover

Brent is Managing Partner of Evergreen Consulting, LLC and a Fellow of the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence. He serves as an adviser to the distribution channel on strategic pricing, mergers and acquisitions, and profit improvement. He also serves as a director of several companies and is a popular speaker at wholesale distribution industry gatherings.

  • Speaking

    NAW Executive Summit, 2008

    NAW Association Executives Council (AEC) Winter Meeting