The job tracking system in the service department keeps technicians from picking and choosing which jobs they want to work on. Each is assigned jobs based on their skill level.
Tom (left) and Steve Brady
Brady’s Power Equipment
Owners: Steve, Carolyn & Tom Brady
Employees: 7 full time
Annual Sales: $2 million
Sales Mix: 55% wholegoods, 30% service, 15% parts & accessories
Customer Mix: 60% consumer, 40% commercial
Shop Labor Rate: $65 per hour
Major Lines: Cub Cadet, Stihl, Fradan, Lawn-Boy, Little Wonder, Scag, Troy Bilt, White Outdoor
By gaining the support of the locals, keeping staff involved in their accomplishments, and ensuring the next generation is committed, the Bradys have been able to plan for an undoubtedly profitable future.
For some dealers, the power is in the brand, others the service. At Brady’s Power Equipment, they find their power is in their people. This multigenerational family business has worked hard to build strong ties to members of their community and with their employees. It was not a difficult task, considering they treat everyone like family.
Focusing on the success and well-being of their community and employees alike has secured for the Bradys a bright future as an outdoor power equipment dealer. At the Yard & Garden Dealers in Excellence Awards ceremony at this year’s GIE+EXPO in Louisville, Steve Brady introduced us to that future: his son Tom.
The Bradys have learned a lot since the days of running a two-cycle repair shop in their garage. “It has been 20 years since Steve and Carolyn made the risky decision to expand their business and move the location in order to make room for profitable expansion,” says daughter Diane Brady-Haight. “Today, their 4,000-square-foot showroom and service center is truly the cornerstone of the community.”
The Brady family has worked hard to establish itself in the Stormville, NY, community. They attend a laundry list of area events and contribute whatever they can in support of their neighbors. They sponsor area baseball and soccer teams, and support The American Cancer Society Relay for Life team each year as just part of their community-minded efforts.
Being friendly and supportive members of the community has always been a focus. The Bradys have also found an interesting way to make the dealership itself a friendlier place for customers who come to visit. Owner Steve Brady’s macaw Kramer, a colorful and talkative bird, has made the dealership his permanent residence. “Customers try to get him to talk as they stop in to drop off a chain for sharpening or look at the newest equipment displayed in the clean, bright showroom,” says Haight.
The resources and energy spent establishing themselves within the community was an easy decision for the Bradys, who feel that it is their duty to do so and realize they get back what they put out. “We get a lot out of the community,” explains Steve Brady. “They support the business and give to us, so we give to them. It’s kind of a symbiotic relationship.” Brady hopes that the members of their community take note of their involvement and will in turn choose to support them as a local business instead of the area big box stores.
INVESTING IN TECHNICIANS
Offering their time in addition to goods and services to better the community is something the Bradys do for the technicians right in their own shop. They continuously invest time and money into their technicians to help them improve their skills as well as turnaround times in the shop. This includes covering the expense of training and offering incentive pay.
“If my guys are all certified, they are going to do a better job and I can reward them for that,” shares Brady. “We put certificates up all over the dealership showing that our techs in the backroom are attending seminars and schools. It’s a great thing. It costs us money but in the long run is going to make us money back.”
Brady has also put some money into creating a job tracking system for the service department, improving it on all ends. To prevent technicians from picking and choosing which jobs they wanted, each was given an inbox where jobs assigned to them are placed. When handing over the jobs, the person writing the service order will consider each technician’s skill level and strengths before assigning it appropriately.
Job status is tracked and falls into one of three categories: “jobs in progress”, “parts ordered” and “to be worked on”. “This way we know exactly where we are,” explains Brady. “When a customer calls to ask about their machine, we can easily tell them the status. One thing we always do is keep the customer in the loop.”
Brady has chosen to control the dealership operation as best he can, where he can. “In the front part of the business, you’re restricted by margins and many other things,” says Brady. “The backroom is your money-making machine and we try to get the efficiency up.”
FAMILY AND FUTURE
As far as the next step for the family business, the Bradys are certain what their future holds. Plans to transition the business to son Tom’s ownership are already underway. Tom has been a part of the business’ success since his college graduation. Though his own son is only two years of age, the family hopes he will one day share the same passion as his father and grandfather.
Steve Brady plans to make himself readily available if Tom has any questions or wants to talk over any ideas he has for the business. Brady’s wife Carolyn will also continue to do the dealership’s book working and Tom’s sister Stephanie Fiege will remain as a counterperson. Though his parents will be around the dealership on a daily basis, the bulk of the workload and decision-making will be left up to Tom, something the whole family thinks he is ready for.
“He’s going to make all of the decisions and I’ve learned to step back and let him do his thing,” Brady confidently shares. “He is very capable of doing what he has to do.” Tom has already begun making plans for the dealership’s next phase. His plans may include taking on a line of snow equipment, spreaders and plows.
Tom has come a long way since his days working in the dealership service department where Carolyn says he was their best tech. “He is the person of last resort,” Brady explains. “If anything can’t be fixed, he’s the one who comes out and takes care of it. It’s good because the guys know that somebody will be able to bail them out of something they are not capable of or just can’t get.”
Tom has taken a lot of pressure off the techs, and will now be taking some of that same pressure off his parents. After two decades owning and operating Brady’s Outdoor Power and nearly another 10 years performing equipment repairs, Steve and Carolyn Brady are ready for the transition and grateful it is going so smoothly. “I’m super fortunate because not many people have another generation for the business to go to,” says Brady. "Times do change, but this business will be here for another generation."