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Make the Most of Rebate Management

A 2020 survey* found that rebate management is one of ag retailers’ top three supply chain challenges. Retailers worry about in-season tracking, end-of-season reconciliation and finding ways to ensure they receive the payments they are owed. If you can relate, consider these tips to make the most of rebate management.

Audit your process

Love em’ or hate em’, rebates are here to stay and are an essential component of your business. Unfortunately, rebate reconciliation has become even more complex in recent years as the agribusiness market has diversified and companies have merged. Each manufacturer has different deadlines, eligibility requirements, processes and rules for accruing and redeeming rebates. It’s no wonder the task can feel overwhelming.

If you view rebates as a necessary evil – another piece of administrative busy work that you don’t have time for – then it could be time to take a critical eye to your rebate management process. There may be ways to streamline your approach to alleviate some of the headaches typically associated with rebate management. Here are some initial questions that can provide insight into your process to set the foundation for making changes.

  • What are the most significant pain points associated with rebate management?
  • How are we tracking rebate progress throughout the year?
  • How much administrative time is spent managing rebates?
  • What tools are we using to support rebate management? 
  • Who is responsible for rebate reconciliation at our location? 

Go digital

If you’re like many ag retailers, laborious manual tracking, unreliable information and time-consuming data analysis top your list of frustrations with rebate management. When you’re dealing with a process that’s already complex, the last thing you want to do is add more uncertainty. But if you’re using spreadsheets and manual methods to track sales data, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Relying on manual methods can also introduce errors that can set you up for surprises and leave rebate money on the table at the end of the year.

Fortunately, the ag industry is taking cues from other sectors. It is beginning to deliver digital tools to help ag retailers overcome major pain points and add efficiencies in their operations. We’re introducing new capabilities to Growers Rally™ to help busy ag retailers like you monitor progress against manufacturer rebate goals. Growers Rally ties your sales goals with individual manufacturer rebate programs to automate and record seasonal progress. With this integrated system, you have real-time, total sales pipeline visibility, so you’re never left wondering where you stand on your rebate goals.

Adopting digital tools for rebate management has three clear benefits over standard manual methods. First, your sales team can make smarter real-time decisions with the most accurate information. Second, your team gains efficiencies by ditching time-consuming administrative tasks, freeing them up for more profitable tasks. Finally, you’re more likely to maximize rebate dollars by having the most accurate data for end-of-year reconciliation.

Foster strong supplier relationships

A solid relationship with the manufacturer is one of the keys to success in managing any rebate program. When you’re working with a supplier you trust, you can have candid conversations about your business goals, how rebates fit into meeting those objectives and how you can work together to achieve mutual profitability. With strong support from your suppliers, you’ll understand the ins and outs of their rebate program and how you’ll need to execute to earn those rebate dollars at the end of the year. Your supply partners can also help ensure you’re stocking the most profitable products for your business while meeting your customers’ agronomic needs.

When you have strong relationships with your suppliers, rebate reconciliation goes a whole lot smoother, too. Communicate clearly, transparently and honestly with your manufacturers about how their rebate program is working for your business. What kind of support do you need? Is the rebate process too cumbersome? What changes would you like to see? And, at the end of the year, if you don’t see eye-to-eye, be courteous, open-minded and receptive as you work through rebate misunderstandings.

Strive to improve

Rebate programs will inevitably continue to evolve, and those changes will make it challenging to keep up if you don’t have an efficient rebate management system in place. Start where you are today and identify small changes you can make to streamline your rebate management process. Here are a few ideas to consider.

  • Have rebate-specific meetings with your top suppliers so you can ask questions and align on program requirements 
  • Forecast your sales goals to maximize rebate opportunities with top suppliers
  • Identify which team members will focus on the administrative tasks associated with rebate reconciliation
  • Reduce manual, redundant tasks and opt for digital tools for rebate tracking
  • Keep a pulse on rebate progress throughout the year – don’t wait until the year’s end to realize you haven’t met your goals

Rebates play a critical role in marketing your products and, ultimately, your revenue stream. If you aren’t managing rebate programs effectively, you’re leaving dollars on the table, adding inefficiencies to your organization and undue stress to your team. With a positive mindset, a solid plan, supportive suppliers and practical digital tools to support you, you’ll be on your way to a streamlined rebate management process.

Learn how Growers Rally can help simplify rebate management for your ag retail business.  

*2022 survey.

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