Game Plan for Growth

Beard’s Outdoor Power

Crestwood, KY
beardsope.com
Founded: 1988
Owners: Richard& Ruth Ann Beard
Employees: 17 full time, 3 part time
Annual Sales: Over $3 million
Sales Mix: 72% wholegoods, 18% parts, 10% service
Customer Mix: 77% consumer, 23% commercial
Shop Labor Rate: $60 per hour
Major Lines: Cub Cadet, Exmark, Honda, Kubota, Simplicity, Stihl, Toro, Troy Bilt

When his dream to own and operate his own dealership was realized, this dealer truly performed with careful business planning and experienced tremendous growth.

The year 2008 marks a very special milestone for the Beard family. This year they are celebrating 50 years in the outdoor power equipment industry. Dick Beard began his career in the industry in 1958 working with Steoss Hardware. He eventually began dreaming of owning his own outdoor power equipment business and asked the Steoss brothers to join him. When they declined, he and his wife Ruth Ann decided to open their own dealership in an old feed and seed building in 1988.

The decision to leave Steoss Hardware and move out on their own was an easy one for Dick, but for Ruth Ann it was not that simple. “Ruth Ann was afraid they would lose everything they had,” says Terry Coffin, general manager. “I think by now she is convinced it was probably the best decision they have ever made.”

As Beard’s Outdoor Power Equipment continues to grow, there is no better way to recognize their hard work and dedication than honoring them with a Dealers in Excellence award.

ROOM TO GROW AND EXCEL

Having been a dealer since 1958, the Beards have attracted many return customers. As their customer base grew, so did their desire to own rather than rent. “The main reason for building in a new location was to have a place of our own instead of leasing like we had been doing for the last 18 years,” explains Coffin. “We had looked at several different options but they all seemed too dead end for us until a couple of years ago.”

In 2006, the Beards stumbled upon a piece of property just a quarter mile down the street from their original location. “The 4-acre plot was just put on the market and happened to be exactly what we were looking for,” shares Coffin. “We felt the new building could be designed to better fit our needs, and would be more attractive to new customers.” In considering facilities for their dealership and refurbishing the one they decided upon, the Beards visited other dealers to find out what worked for them. “We visited several different dealers in this industry who had built new facilities, and took some of their ideas along with some of our own to come up with the design,” says Coffin.

FEATURES AND FUNCTION

The new facility itself may not appear to be too different from the last, but it houses some of the best features for efficiency in operations. “Everything has been streamlined and improved,” says Andy Criner, territory manager for Bryan Equipment Sales in Loveland, OH. “This developed as a result of their extensive assessment of factors contributing to a successful outdoor power equipment business along with the many visits made to other dealers’ businesses.”

The Beards and Coffin took what they learned from other successful dealers and implemented it in their own facility. They created what Criner calls “the ultimate power equipment store.”

The new 40,000-square-foot dealership houses state-of-the-art features that lend themselves to greatly improved efficiency. Efficiency is something that the Beards value as their customer base continues to grow. “The reason we tried to focus on efficiency was to provide our customers with better service and have less lost motion, which in turn creates more profit,” explains Coffin. The new shop at Beard’s Outdoor Power was designed to give technicians easier access to their work area, with the equipment brought in for repair stored right next to the shop for easier access. Technicians also enjoy the accessibility and organization afforded by the 30 feet of Lista parts cabinets.

“We have a drive-through wash bay so the equipment can be cleaned when it comes in for service,” Coffin explains further. “The technicians have hoists to lift the equipment for easier service.The part they like the most is that the shop is air-conditioned.”

By making the job of technician just a little bit easier, they are likely able to get more work done and at a better quality. Criner agrees. “Dick is very proud of the that fact they have been able to improve the flow of equipment in the shop,” he explains. “They are using a fully automatic chain sharpener, a remote controlled exhaust ventilation system for equipment testing, and overhead cranes for hoisting mowers for repairs. All of these improvements contribute to a faster turnaround time for their customers.”

Another way the Beards have been able to improve the flow of equipment in the dealership is during its initial delivery. The new facility features a concrete floor that allows equipment delivered by distributors to be wheeled by pallet jack right onto the showroom floor for quick assembly.

KEEPING UP WITH CHANGE

The Beards have seen the industry change quite a bit over the years and have done all they can to stay up to speed and continuously educate themselves. “We have seen many changes since Dick started 50 years ago in the boiler room of the local hardware store,” shares Coffin. “We try to keep up with the latest industry changes and keep the most innovative products available to our customers.” The team subscribes to several trade magazines and attends all of the supplier seminars they can.

One change coming soon will be the ownership of the business. Dick had always dreamt of having an outdoor power equipment dealership that would have a major impact on the community he has lived in all of his life. Now he has decided to pass that dream on to the next generation. The Beards have decided to slowly hand the reigns over to their daughter Judy Skidmore and Coffin.

“Our plan for the future of Beards Outdoor Power Equipment is to keep growing and provide the best customer service consumers can find anywhere,” shares Coffin. “Hopefully one day we can put the big box stores out of the power equipment business for good.”

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