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The Manufacturer vs. Dealer Dilemma: Deciding Your Role

Unravel the manufacturer vs. dealer dilemma in the shed industry with our latest guide, designed to help you navigate your business path with clarity.

Welcome back to our extensive guide series on the shed industry! In this guide, we're honing in on the intricacies of two vital roles - manufacturers and dealers. As you delve deeper into the industry, you'll often find yourself standing at the crossroads, deciding whether to take on the role of a manufacturer, producing the sheds, or a dealer, selling these structures to the end user.

This guide aims to make that decision easier. We will walk you through each role, their pros and cons, and the significant considerations you need to factor into your decision-making process. Whether you're at the initial stages of starting your shed business or considering a change in your existing business structure, this guide is designed to provide valuable insights.

So let's dive in and unravel the manufacturer vs. dealer dilemma, and help you chart your path in the vibrant shed industry!

Understanding the Manufacturer Role

To begin, let's focus on the first vital role within the shed industry - the manufacturer. As a manufacturer, you'll be the creator of the product - you'll design and construct sheds, essentially setting the stage for the rest of the industry. But what does this role entail, and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

What Does a Manufacturer Do?

At its core, a manufacturer is responsible for producing sheds. This involves a range of tasks such as sourcing raw materials, designing shed models, and assembling the final product. Quality control, adherence to building codes and regulations, and efficient use of materials are all part of a day's work for a manufacturer. Manufacturers often have their own factories or workshops where production takes place.

Pros and Cons of Being a Manufacturer


  • Creative Control: As a manufacturer, you have complete control over the product's design, quality, and production process.
  • Brand Development: You have the opportunity to build a unique brand, with your sheds reflecting your company’s values, aesthetics, and quality standards.
  • Profit Margin: Manufacturers often enjoy a higher profit margin as there's no middleman involved in the sales process. Assuming you sell directly to consumers that is.


  • Capital Intensive: Setting up a manufacturing outfit requires substantial investment in machinery, workspace, and raw materials.
  • Risk Factors: Manufacturers shoulder the entire risk associated with the product, including unsold inventory or defects.
  • Operational Challenges: Manufacturers face the complexities of production, including managing labor, maintaining equipment, and ensuring production timelines are met.

Key Considerations

If you're considering becoming a manufacturer, there are several aspects you'll need to evaluate:

  • Investment: Do you have the necessary funds to invest in machinery, workspace, and raw materials?
  • Skills: Manufacturing sheds requires technical expertise. Do you have the skills, or are you willing to learn or hire skilled workers?
  • Operations: Can you handle the operational aspects such as supply chain management, production schedules, and quality control?
  • Market Conditions: Is there sufficient demand for sheds in your target market to justify the production?

Remember, the manufacturer role is not just about making sheds; it's about business management, product innovation, and market understanding. It can be an immensely rewarding role, but one that requires substantial commitment and investment.

Understanding the Dealer Role

Now that we have a good understanding of the manufacturer's role, let's shift our focus to the dealer's perspective. A dealer acts as a vital link between manufacturers and customers, offering sheds for sale in a retail environment. However, this role comes with its unique pros, cons, and considerations.

What Does a Dealer Do?

A shed dealer is essentially a retail business. Your role would involve purchasing sheds from manufacturers, then marketing and selling them to customers. This process involves building relationships with manufacturers, managing inventory, setting up a showroom or online store, and providing excellent customer service. Dealers don't build sheds; they connect the people who do with the people who need them.

Pros and Cons of Being a Dealer


  • Lower Start-up Costs: Compared to starting a manufacturing operation, the initial investment for a dealership can be much lower.
  • Focus on Sales and Service: As a dealer, your primary focus is on marketing, sales, and customer service, rather than production.
  • Flexibility: Dealers can offer a wider range of products by partnering with different manufacturers. This allows them to cater to diverse customer needs.


  • Dependence on Manufacturers: Your business relies heavily on the quality of the sheds your manufacturers produce. Poor quality products or unreliable suppliers can affect your business reputation.
  • Lower Profit Margins: Dealers generally have lower profit margins than manufacturers because they need to share a portion of each sale with the manufacturer.
  • Inventory Management: Dealers have to manage inventory, which can be challenging, especially in terms of storage and cash flow.

Key Considerations

If you're leaning towards the dealer role, consider the following:

  • Relationships with Manufacturers: Building strong relationships with reliable manufacturers is crucial. How will you establish and maintain these relationships?
  • Customer Service: Are you prepared to offer excellent customer service, handle customer queries, and resolve any issues promptly?
  • Market Conditions: Is there a robust market for sheds in your area? Can you compete with other dealers?
  • Inventory Management: How will you manage your inventory and storage facilities?

As a dealer, your success will be determined by your ability to effectively market and sell sheds, manage relationships with manufacturers, and offer outstanding customer service. It's a role that requires a mix of business acumen, people skills, and an understanding of your local market.

Hybrid Role: Manufacturer-Dealer

Have you ever thought about enjoying the best of both worlds? A hybrid role, combining manufacturing and dealing, may be just the ticket for entrepreneurs who love the idea of making their own product and selling it directly to customers. Let's explore this unique pathway in more detail.

What Does a Manufacturer-Dealer Do?

As a manufacturer-dealer, you wear two hats. Firstly, you're the creator, building the sheds and ensuring they meet high-quality standards. Secondly, you're the seller, directly marketing and selling your products to customers. This combined role allows you to control the entire process, from creation to distribution, and provides an opportunity to maximize profits.

Pros and Cons of the Hybrid Role


  • Control Over Quality: You oversee the production process, ensuring that every shed meets your high standards.
  • Higher Profit Margins: By taking care of manufacturing and selling, you eliminate the middleman, thus potentially increasing profit margins.
  • Direct Customer Feedback: Direct interaction with customers provides valuable insights for product improvement and innovation.


  • Higher Initial Investment: Starting a business that includes manufacturing requires not only a large initial investment due to equipment and operational costs, but higher staffing costs since you’re essentially running two businesses.
  • Increased Responsibilities: Wearing both hats means juggling the demands of production and sales, which can be challenging.
  • Risk Factor: If your product doesn't sell as expected, the financial impact may be significant because you've invested in manufacturing.

Key Considerations

If the hybrid model piques your interest, consider these factors:

  • Capital and Resources: Do you have the capital required for manufacturing and selling your own sheds? Do you have the resources to manage both sides of the business?
  • Market Knowledge: Do you understand your target market well enough to confidently produce and sell a product they will buy?
  • Skills and Expertise: Are you or your team comfortable with both production and sales, or are you willing to learn and develop in both areas?
  • Risk Tolerance: Are you willing to take on the financial risk associated with producing your own products?

Choosing a hybrid role allows you to keep complete control over the quality, sales, and profits of your shed business. However, it also involves more investment, risk, and responsibilities. This role requires a unique blend of manufacturing knowledge, marketing skills, and entrepreneurial spirit.

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Deciding Your Role: Factors to Consider

After understanding the nuances of the manufacturer, dealer, and hybrid roles, it's time to weigh your options and make an informed decision. Several factors can influence your choice, so let's discuss these in detail.


Whether you're planning to become a manufacturer, dealer, or both, start-up capital is a significant consideration. Manufacturers generally require more capital due to the costs of setting up a production facility, purchasing machinery, and procuring raw materials. Dealers, on the other hand, primarily need capital for acquiring inventory and setting up a retail space. If you plan to adopt a hybrid role, the required capital will be even higher.


Each role requires a different set of skills. Manufacturers need to have technical knowledge about designing and producing sheds, while dealers need skills in customer service, sales, and marketing. The hybrid role requires both sets of skills, or a team that can cover all areas. Make an honest assessment of your skills, and consider how you can bridge any gaps.

Market Demand

Understanding the local market demand for sheds is crucial. Research to ascertain the volume of demand, type of sheds preferred, and price ranges consumers are willing to pay. Market demand can affect both the profitability and the viability of your business, irrespective of the role you choose.


Evaluate your local and online competition. If there are many manufacturers or dealers in your area, entering the market could be challenging. However, competition also signals a demand for sheds, which is a positive sign.

Business Goals

Your long-term business goals also play a critical role in deciding your role. If you want to create a unique brand and have full control over the product, becoming a manufacturer or adopting a hybrid role could be preferable. If you're more interested in sales and customer interactions, being a dealer might be more suitable.

Comparison Table

Here is a comparison table to further clarify the differences between the roles:

Deciding your role in the shed industry isn't a decision to be made lightly. It involves careful consideration of your financial capacity, skills, understanding of the market, competitive landscape, and business goals. Whichever role you choose, remember that success in the shed business, like any other venture, comes from commitment, adaptability, and a keen understanding of customer needs.

Real-world Examples

Learning from real-life examples is an excellent way to gain insights and practical knowledge about the shed industry. Let's look at successful shed businesses that have adopted the manufacturer, dealer, and hybrid roles, and see what insights we can glean from their operations.

Manufacturer: ShedMaster

ShedMaster is a renowned shed manufacturer known for its custom, high-quality storage sheds and playhouses. They pride themselves on handling the entire production process, from design to manufacturing, ensuring top-notch quality. Their strong suit lies in offering a wide range of styles, sizes, and customization options to their customers.

Key takeaway: ShedMaster's success underlines the importance of offering a diverse product range and maintaining stringent quality control when you're a manufacturer. It also emphasizes the advantage of providing custom solutions to meet different customer needs.

Dealer: The Shed Place

The Shed Place is a successful dealer, focusing on providing a variety of ready-made and customizable sheds from different manufacturers. Their emphasis is on customer service and understanding customer needs to match them with the right product. They have a broad network of manufacturers, which allows them to offer a vast range of options to their customers.

Key takeaway: The Shed Place demonstrates that a dealer's success hinges on maintaining robust relationships with manufacturers and understanding customer needs deeply. They also show the benefits of offering a wide variety of products from different manufacturers to cater to diverse customer preferences.

Hybrid Role: Garden Spaces

Garden Spaces has taken on the hybrid role, controlling the entire process from design and manufacturing to sales. This approach allows them to create unique, high-quality garden rooms and offices that cater to a growing trend of home offices. By taking on both roles, they can quickly adapt to market trends and offer customized solutions.

Key takeaway: Garden Spaces showcases how a hybrid role can give you more control over product quality, design, and sales. Their ability to adapt to market trends quickly has been a significant factor in their success.

These examples show that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy in the shed industry. Each business has found success in its unique way by understanding its strengths, the market, and its customers' needs. As you contemplate your role in the industry, these insights can help guide your decision-making process.

Conclusion: Making Your Decision

Deciding between the roles of manufacturer, dealer, or taking on a hybrid role in the shed industry is a vital choice that shapes the trajectory of your business. In this guide, we've walked through each role, weighing their respective pros and cons, and the unique considerations that come with each.

Manufacturers have the benefit of total control over the product, but they also bear the brunt of high initial investment costs and operational complexities. Dealers, on the other hand, are relieved of production responsibilities but must navigate the intricacies of customer relationships and market demands.

Opting for a hybrid role offers the best of both worlds, combining the control of manufacturing with the customer proximity of dealing, but it also presents its own challenges, including managing a more extensive range of responsibilities.

We've also explored some real-world examples to show how these roles play out in practice. Each case offers valuable insights that can guide your decision-making process.

Remember, the role you choose is crucial, but it's not irrevocable. As your business grows and the market evolves, you may find it beneficial to switch roles or adopt a hybrid model. Stay flexible and open to change, and your business can thrive in the ever-dynamic shed industry.

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