Sharp's Small Engine Repair
The cut-throat, cheap, sub-par dealers are our worst enemies right now—and in the future. They do nothing positive for any of us and only serve to drag the whole industry down to their level in the customer's eyes.
If you want to call yourself a dealer, it takes more than just signing an agreement with a manufacturer. It also means that you care about your profession, which includes your peers. You will strive to make the best of any situation you are presented with and will act professionally at all times when dealing with customers.
The cheap, sub-par "dealers" do not care about their customers, and most likely they are just doing the "lawn mower fixing thing" as a supplement to their day jobs. This type of "dealer" is what the public should not even be acquainted with, much less do business with.
This type of "dealer" does not think that you need the special tools, manuals, computers, etc. that the true dealers have worked years to acquire. These guys do not actively search for better ways to run their businesses, nor are they interested in the new products coming out that they will eventually need to work on. They are only interested in the quick sale of parts and equipment, and do not understand that they are losing money when they discount everything to beat other dealers out of sales. Unfortunately, as the turnover of shops grows, this type of dealer can make a resurgence in the industry if manufacturers do not do something about it.
True dealers actively seek out the latest service books, tools, etc. to add to their knowledge of the products tha they sell and service. They take pride in their work and stand behind it. From the one-man shops to the mom-and-pops to the large million-dollar shops, true dealers are active in their industry. We make the most of what we have and are proud to share ideas with other dealers.
Louis Lawn Mower Inc.
I consider both big boxes and cheap-selling dealers in the same category. It seems like the dealer selling cheaply is threatened by the box stores.
It does not matter how huge a dealer is—he cannot compete against the big box stores. That's why we personally don't try to. Our business has much more to offer than the box stores. We go to meetings and schools to know what we are selling. The box stores do not have the knowledge and never will.
Just like gas station owners are not smart enough to charge a fair price for gas, many dealers compete to be the lowest priced. Dealers can't compete with box stores on the price level. But when it comes to product quality and after-sale service, we should be the only place to buy.
Still, I think the biggest problem we face is the lack of support from the manufacturers. Manufacturers just want to sell units; they do not see the long-term value in service after the sale. If a certain manufacturer decides to get out of small locations, it's clear to see where they think their future is.
Country Mower & Small Engine
Colorado Springs, CO
Most dealers in my area have gotten used to the big box stores' so-called threats and have worked around or through them. Our immediate threat comes from low-balling sales and service providers. They seem to pop up, sell low and provide poor-quality repairs. This hurts the dealers who have invested in their businesses for the long haul and follow all the guidelines.
I personally fault some of the distributors because they will sign up just about anyone. I believe enforcement of dealer standards is necessary to prevent this from happening.
Leiser's Rental Barn
Forks Township, PA
I gave up selling commercial mowers because a local independent was selling just above cost. In a more recent issue, my snow thrower distributor set up a hardware store without onsite service 1/4 mile from my store. I haven't seen the e-Bay sellers take my sales yet, but I keep an eye on the prices. It seems shipping charges tend to keep them from making a big difference.
Carl's Mower & Saw
We feel that dealers under-cutting other dealers is definitely a problem. Why do we do this to each other? All we are doing is hurting ourselves in the long-term. Just the other day I had a dealer 10 miles away who undercut me by $80 on a chain saw. Why? Dealers cutting prices just helps the big boxes.