“Homeowners want products that are easy to set up and operate and yield the desired result—green grass,” says Kendall. “We have seen an increase in sales of our mid-range and upper-end homeowner models with pneumatic wheels, larger frames and capacity. Price is an important consideration, but value, something that will last more than a year, is the real target.”
The Needs of the Professional User
Much like the homeowner market, professional users are looking for low-maintenance products that are easy to use. Accuracy is vital, as they need to promise customers the same desired finish product the first time around.
“The professional users need durability and accuracy. The pros don’t have the time to have a product down or to have to repeat an application,” says Kendall. “Each is key to maintaining a profitable operation.”
Larger Earthway models have seen an increase in sales across the board to commercial users. Their largest spreader model is a 250-pound, 12-volt all-electrical remotely operated unit that fits in the bed of a UTV. They report that tow-behind models are declining in the professional market while the 12-volt unit sales are increasing.
Their sprayer side has seen increased interest in ground-driven technology that is simple to use and very accurate. “The application is based on preset parameters and is based on ‘you push, it sprays’, ‘you stop, it stops spraying’,” Kendall explains. “On the pro side, requests are increasing for the S25 model with a stainless chassis.”
TurfEx has also seen the popularity of their electric products growing. The units are calibrated for seed, fertilizer and bulk product. Capacity continues to be an important deciding factor for the professional market.
“More and more professionals are looking for all-poly hoppers and electric-powered equipment with no hydraulics or gas engines,” says Carmichael. “In terms of capacity, one of our most popular models is the MS2000. It holds up to 11 cubic-feet of material, or about 900 pounds of product. Its popularity has a lot to do with its flexibility since it can spread such a diverse range of materials.”
Spreading the Word About Sprayers and Spreaders
Manufacturers are focusing on helping dealers to promote sprayers and spreaders in their marketing and encourage sales by backing products with impressive warranties. Manufacturers are also providing dealers and end-users with online and print tools for a better understanding of equipment operation and improving the sprayer/spreader customer experience.
“We are always working hard to provide our dealers with the best marketing materials,” says Carmichael. “Every year we publish new, glossy full-line catalogs that match the different markets we cater to. We also offer dealer kits with a wide variety of promotional materials, from window stickers and posters, to counter displays and brochures. We support our dealers with aggressive advertising, public relations and online efforts.”
Earthway conducts dealer training and equipment demos at many tradeshows. They offer several marketing and training tools from catalogs, fliers and layouts, to maintenance and assembly videos available on their website.
But for dealers, one of the best ways to market a product is to have it present on the show floor. Customers then have the opportunity to handle the equipment and witness its quality construction.
“No matter how good marketing materials are, nothing beats a dealer talking about and showing this equipment to a potential buyer,” says Carmichael. “That’s why it’s so important that dealers stock this equipment.”