“I’ve been there and know what’s going on,” says Ron Zipp, owner of Southern Indiana Equipment (SIE) in Lanesville, IN. “It helps me in my business, because having been there I know what’s necessary to help equipment last longer and get the job done as a landscaper.”
Zipp has used his background working as a landscaper to make shopping at his dealership as easy as possible for his customers. Taking the thinking out of it and gaining his customers’ trust has led to his success as a dealer. He continues to build on that success by taking calculated risks with his floorplans.
Trust in the Simple
Zipp, who became an equipment dealer after stocking and selling parts to other landscapers, says his customers want to walk into a dealership and ask what equipment option is right for them—and trust that the dealer can answer. His main concern when becoming a dealer was offering options that made it easy to make a purchasing decision.
Zipp assessed his lines to see which had offered the most to end-users, and narrowed it down to a few mowers and handheld options to make their decision-making that much easier (see Dealership Data box on opposite page for a full list of product lines carried).
“I want to make everything simple,” explains Zipp. “Before I do any work, they already have it in their mind what they want from seeing the mowers on the show floor.”
For Zipp, selling relies a lot on first impressions. “When people walk in they are always looking at what the best-looking mower is,” says Zipp. “They also look to see how many are stocked.”
Zipp says displaying mowers in high numbers cues the customer in on their popularity. “If only a few are stocked, it may appear as if they aren’t a big seller,” explains Zipp. “Having a lot of product shows that the dealer is sure of the line. If you don’t stock it, you won’t sell it.”
At SIE they believe that showing the dealer trusts in a line helps the customer trust the dealer.
Simple shopping for Zipp’s customers will soon go beyond a visit to the dealership’s show floor. He has plans to develop an online parts store. While Zipp realizes this is something he could implement quickly and easily with purchased software, he wants to develop his own.
“It’s complicated, and what is being offered is not necessarily what we are looking for,” Zipp explains. “We want to build our own system so it is user-friendly for the average person.”
While dealers and landscapers may know model and parts numbers, Zipp understands that the consumer will likely only know general terms. He is hoping to develop a program that allows customers to search with those terms, once again making the process simple.
“When it’s easy for them, they are not going to go anywhere else,” says Zipp assuredly. “Parts are so competitive, especially now. You have to make it as simple as possible.”
A Helping Hand Washes the Other
In building further on his trusting relationship with the customer, Zipp goes beyond offering an easy, simple shopping experience by offering equipment demos and maintenance training.
“I’m a fanatic about on-site demos,” says Zipp. “It is a sales tool you cannot beat.” At SIE they have demos out practically every day. While some dealers may not want to chance the headache that it may cause, Zipp is adamant about doing it, and doing it often.
He uses it as a sales tool and a trust-building exercise, tacking few restrictions onto the demo deal. “We let them take it on their own without collateral instead of bringing it out there and supervising use,” explains Zipp. “They won’t trust us if they don’t think we trust them.” Zipp is doing them a favor by letting them try before buying, but he often reaps the benefit of the sale.