While the industry awaits the lift of the recession, some dealers are passively standing by as their businesses are forced to close their doors. Other dealers are seeing the promise and opportunity this affords them as nearby territories become available.
Dealers expanding in the current market are embracing the opportunity and setting themselves up for success by carefully choosing product lines and building a team geared toward accomplishments.
There is a difference between seeing things through rose-colored glasses and searching for the positive when all others see negatives. While many dealers have their guards up and are taking few risks, some see the promise the industry still holds for a driven individual looking to expand and excel.
Making and keeping goals to grow your business can set you on the path to expansion—provided you don’t let the fears of the market stop you. Dan Weingartz, a Michigan-based dealer, opened his fifth store this year. He saw an opportunity and didn’t let the economy scare him from taking a chance.
“We felt like we were operationally ready to take on another location and that the market that we were going to has a lot of potential for growth,” says Weingartz. “The other reason is that we have everything invested in this business, and regardless of the economic conditions we need to be growing.”
As some dealers close their doors, it creates even more opportunity for other dealers to pick up not only the territories left behind, but the customers seeking service. Dale Magie of Westchester Lawn & Garden in Liberty Township, OH, took over a newly built ACE Hardware that failed to thrive. Under the name MOE’s, the ACE Hardware will sell and service equipment for the consumer market while the other Magie’s location will focus on servicing contractors.
“We are always striving to provide the best service,” says Magie. “We know there are less independent outdoor power equipment dealers and we think there is definitely an opportunity. We want to try to grow our business to be of value. We hope that by having a bigger footprint we will be able to offer more things to more people and be more prominent in the market \place.”
Customers are drawn to the service provided by dealers as they require more for their money. A quality product and the service to help it last is what consumers are looking for—and are finding at their independent dealers.
“As dealers, we’ve always felt that if people only knew of the service and value that they can get at an independent dealer, they would never go to a box store,” says Weingartz. “It seems that as pocketbooks tightened up, consumers spend a little extra time researching options. We’ve seen some sentiment coming back of people wanting to spend locally rather than having their dollars going out of state. Combine those factors with the further maturing of the landscape and lawn maintenance industry, and I think that the outlook for dealers is relatively bright.”
Magie shares those sentiments and thinks being proactive and positive means being competitive, saying: “I’ve always been an optimistic person and I always try to remain proactive in order to stay ahead of the curve.”
With a bright outlook on the market and the desire to grow business through expansion, a plan for implementing growth is essential. Carefully considering which of your product lines to carry over is a good start.
“Our goal was to take a similar selection of product,” says Magie. “We took our strongest and biggest brands to the second location. We thought it would make it easier to educate that team of people to understand and best sell our most profitable lines. By not taking the less in-demand brands we are able to keep a smaller inventory.”
In choosing your product lines, you may have to follow manufacturer limitations regarding territory reach, like Weingartz did. Limited lines doesn’t have to mean limited growth.