“I’m now a true believer in having all the equipment priced,” says Preuss. “Twenty years ago we never had price tags on our equipment and always talked off the top of our heads. We want the customer to trust us, and when they walk in and nothing is priced they wonder if you are haggling them. We are all trying to get the best margin, but you have to be fair to the customer if you want them to come back.”
Customers who are unfamiliar with power equipment and come into the dealership to take a look around might not be as comfortable with asking questions and could potentially walk out the door without inquiring about price or making a purchase.
The team to beat
Many of the staff members at W.H. Preuss have been with the company for many years and have watched the business grow. Products are supported with a full parts inventory and the knowledgeable staff, each an expert in their own department.
“Years ago we all bounced around and did other things, repaired lawnmowers, sold parts, waited on customers,” Preuss recalls. “Now techs are just techs and we call them specialists. All they ever do is service and very rarely interact with customers.”
Another specialist in the dealership is the service manager who acts as the go-between with techs and customers. She answers all queries with confidence and saves the valuable time of the mechanics.
While the service manager is great with the customers, every once in a while she encounters a customer who insists on talking to the technician. Griping will get them nowhere, as Preuss knows his people are the best at what they do.
“As much as they complain or insist, we don’t let them talk to the tech,” says Preuss. “If we do it once we will have to do it all the time. The more the technicians can produce in the shop, the better off we all are. That’s why I have a staff that is knowledgeable.”
Technicians also rely heavily on the parts manager who has been in the parts business for almost 30 years, 15 with Preuss and before that working with a parts distributor. While employees are experts in their own area, they will all lend a hand in another area when needed—especially if it means guaranteeing customer satisfaction.
Everything Preuss does reflects on his time spent learning the business over the years and what measures as success. “I’ve seen so many dealerships sold and people think they can step right in and just run it,” says Preuss. “It takes a long time to understand the power equipment business.” One hundred years to be exact, and like most businesses it all goes back to one thing: customer satisfaction.