From Tech to Top Dealer

J&B Saw & Lawn

Henderson, TX

Founded: 1998
Owner: Wayne & Becky Jones
Employees: 4 full time, 3 part time
Annual Sales: Under $1 million
Sales Mix: 55% wholegoods, 24% parts & accessories,
20% service, 1% other
Customer Mix: 85% consumer, 15% commercial
Shop Labor Rate: $70 per hour
Major Lines: Exmark, Honda, Stihl

When a mom and pop shop in east Texas was ready for new ownership, Wayne and Becky Jones stepped up to the challenge despite the shaky confidence of the company’s distributors.

The Joneses quickly stepped in with intelligent ideas for how to operate the business. What they didn’t know in the beginning they quickly learned on their way to becoming a top outdoor power equipment dealer.

TAKING A CHANCE

“When Wayne and Becky Jones bought Penney’s Sales & Service, a small lawn and garden dealer in Henderson, TX, in January 1999, we were honestly worried,” says James D. Gibson of Stihl Southwest.

Gibson and his associates were nervous to see Wayne Jones, a technician from Penney’s, purchase the outdoor power equipment dealership with no prior business management experience to speak of. Luckily, Wayne was a quick learner.

“To say that our fears were unfounded is an understatement,” Gibson admits. “The business, renamed J&B Saw & Lawn, has witnessed phenomenal growth under Wayne’s leadership.” In their first year, Wayne and Becky experienced a 40% increase in Stihl unit sales, for example.

Wayne knew he would appear to be a risk taker when closing the business for overhaul during the holiday season in 1998, a remodel that included new counters, new worktables, a fresh paint job and an enlarged shop.

“The Penneys were ready for a change and offered to sell if I was interested,” explains Wayne. “I had been working for them for 12 years doing repair, sales and parts orders. I was very familiar with the business.” Wayne’s familiarity with many parts of the business helped him to quickly learn the remaining facets.

LEARNING & IMPLEMENTATION

The Joneses’ eagerness to learn about the business and implement new ideas for operations greatly improved their chances at business success. The Joneses continuously look for the next best way to improve their outdoor power equipment dealership. “Wayne is the most willing and active learner that we can imagine,” says Gibson. “He soaks up all of the new ideas that he is exposed to and then goes back and implements them in a logical, thoughtful way to improve his dealership.”

In explaining the Joneses’ desire to improve their business, Gibson also mentioned that Wayne is eager to work with distributors to find ways they can help each other. “Wayne shares his thoughts with us when he thinks we should do something differently,” says Gibson. “He does it from the helpful perspective of a partner, not as someone who is complaining.”

The Joneses continue to work hard at improving their business and continue providing the highest quality of service. Their diligence has kept their customers coming back for more. Eventually, their growth was so great that they had to consider a new, larger facility.

“Due to our good service department, our business continued to grow, and we had a strong desire to add other products,” explains Wayne. “We just simply didn’t have the space for it.” The Joneses made the decision to purchase a skating rink in a high-traffic area and convert it into what they envisioned would be an outdoor power equipment superstore.

POWER EQUIPMENT SUPERSTORE

In creating their vision of an outdoor power equipment superstore, the Joneses revamped the tired skating rink and turned it into a bright and attractive dealership with a 10’ x 6’ digital information screen on the front of the building highlighting product features, time, temperature, etc. They now operate out of a 6,000-square-foot showroom, sales and parts area and a 5,000-square-foot shop and warehouse area. Carefully placed plants and other decorations brighten up the carpeted showroom. Equipment displays are moved around monthly to maintain a fresh look.

The move and revamp proved to be the right idea for J&B Saw & Lawn. “The second year at the new location sales went up 35%,” shares Wayne. Their sales success gave the Joneses more confidence, and they decided to pick up Exmark and Honda mowers as well as a line of ATV equipment.

The shop is assessed just as carefully as the showroom, with efficiency and quality service in mind. “Whether homeowner or commercial, all of our customers appreciate and value quality service, products and parts in stock when they need it,” says Wayne. “We try to keep the sales and service area clean and neat for efficiency in the shop and customer appeal in the sales area.” The shop has central air and heating as well as four equipment lifts.

A strong focus on the capabilities of their facility helps the Joneses easily meet the needs of their customers, something they hope to do for many years to come. “Some customers shop only price and the box stores are there for them,” explains Wayne. "A large segment of the population still values quality and service—and we are there for them and will continue to do our best to supply it to them."

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