Before becoming a dealer, Doug Hampton was a landscape maintenance contractor who traveled 25 miles or more to get parts and receive major repairs. Putting the miles on driving to the nearest dealer, he saw a need for a servicing retailer in his area and he became one.
But instead of catering to the market he knows so well, the professional landscaper, Hampton became the resident expert for the do-it-yourself rural homeowner.
Dealing with the Right Products
Before opening the doors of Hampton Lawn & Garden in Marshfield, MO, Hampton was a successful landscape contractor providing lawn maintenance services to area residents. Once he tired of spending more time behind the wheel driving for parts than on his mower making money, he took on the challenge of becoming an outdoor power equipment dealer.
“In our town there wasn’t much available for equipment, parts or service,” explains Hampton. “Most of the people in this area were driving to neighboring towns and cities to find a better selection of supplies on hand. We ourselves were driving 25 miles to get to a dealer.”
In his landscaping fleet, Hampton operated Grasshopper mowers and had become acquainted with a few contacts at the equipment manufacturer.
“We set up our dealership through the sales reps we had met at Grasshopper,” says Hampton. “We started with that line and progressed from there.”
That progression included the addition of another mower line and also a handheld line. In the few years Hampton has been in business, he has learned what he needs from suppliers and assessed their offerings accordingly. Hampton knew he wanted to work with manufacturers who had a respectable brand, supported their marketing efforts, and would be a true partner for a dealer just starting out.
“As you move on you learn the support that’s needed from suppliers in order to be successful,” says Hampton. “After getting to know suppliers and how they would support us, we changed handheld lines. We keep adding new products and more parts, which has increased our selection for the customers considerably over the last few years.”
The Homeowner’s Resource
The customer base that Hampton attracts has always been more consumer than commercial, with 90% of their equipment sales coming from rural homeowners. He has used his knowledge and experience gained during his time spent as a landscape maintenance contractor to gain the trust and loyalty of customers.
A trusted dealer, Hampton isn’t just pushing the high-margin buys, but the right buys for every customer’s needs. Getting customers the right product for their needs the first time can go a long way. Hampton would rather rely on a large amount of low-margin purchases over an extended period of time than a one-time high-margin buy from a customer not likely to return.
“My past experience helps a lot when advising customers on lawn care products and how to care for their properties,” explains Hampton. “The homeowners appreciate our guidance and tend to be more loyal.”
Along with his heavy stock of equipment and parts, Hampton also offers gardening supplies, hand tools, apparel, bulk garden seed, garden hoses, lawn care chemicals and mulch. As a one-stop shop for customers, they enjoy a lot of add-on sales.
“We have a lot of customers come in just for mulch and will wander over to the equipment and start checking out the mowers,” explains Hampton. “It works both ways, and having such a wide product offering just adds to the floor traffic. The more you have the better.”
Hampton also educates his customers on how to do simple maintenance at home, reserving the service hours in the shop for repairs that bill higher. The take-home tips he offers are usually accompanied by a parts purchase.
“We stay on top of what parts are most commonly needed by our customers and are sure to keep them on hand,” says Hampton. “We want to help those that are in a bind to get their repairs done quickly.”