As many dealers were working to improve their service department as demands for repairs grew, the service department at Humphreys’ was already top-notch. That didn’t stop Humphreys from revamping it when he took over. He purchased new shop equipment to increase efficiency and maintains a clean, well-lit shop.
They have remodeled their dock area down to one lane from two, when they noticed only one was regularly used. It now allows easier access to the shop area. They also became a Rim Guard dealer to allow them more control as far as filling customer tires rather than taking tractors to the tire shop. Additional investments include:
- Extra-wide lift tables for maneuverability and stability
- Overhead cranes/hoists over each workstation for lifting equipment from the front when necessary
- Ultrasonic cleaner for carburetors
- Signed up for the Stihl Front Runner Program that automatically sends new tools developed for Stihl equipment
- Access to PartSmart in the shop, as well as old service manuals
“Customers are coming in to fix things that five years ago they would have replaced,” says Humphreys. “Obviously there is a nice margin in parts, so we are happy to do repairs. We pushed ourselves to get back into training schools and strive to get better and more efficient. If I see that something is going to save me time and money, I’ll invest in it.”
After Humphreys transitioned into ownership of the business, he had some challenges with staff. Looking at the big picture, he saw how making the tough decision of letting a few employees go would lead to better service for customers in the end.
“We finally had a complete clean-house startover,” says Humphreys. “It’s tough, but if the employees are not willing to move forward with you, then that’s what you are forced to do. We have multiple generations of customers coming to us and we don’t need to lose them because we couldn’t fix their equipment right the first time.”
Like most dealers, Humphreys is cautious about investing in technicians to lose them to other service centers. He keeps himself up-to-date on service schools as well, and shares that knowledge with technicians.
“You’d put all this effort into training someone and then they would leave,” says Humphreys. “I started getting the training myself so I wouldn’t lose that information. If I’m paying for it, I would like to still have it six months from now. Then we have the ability to teach that information.”
He also sometimes brings back his retired father, who was the service department expert, to get a fresh look at a problem Humphreys and the two technicians on staff can’t figure out.
“My dad really enjoyed the technical side and enjoyed the challenge of satisfying a customer,” says Humphreys. “He liked to figure out problems and help people. That’s what made him a rock in the whole service department to start with.”
Humphreys argues that keeping a successful and profitable service department helps the business, as manufacturers that went to the big box stores take a second look at supporting the dealers that sell and repair equipment.
“Manufacturers are looking back at that servicing dealer knowing they still need someone to fix their equipment,” says Humphreys. “I think we are going to come full circle on where manufacturers choose to sell their products before we get out of this economy.”
Creating unity in the CommUNITY
Located 40 miles west of Indianapolis and 40 miles east of Terra Haute, IN, Humphreys’ Outdoor Power is in a rural community that it strongly supports. Humphreys believes that it is important to support the community that supports you.
“We always try to help when we can,” says Humphreys. “The stronger you keep your community the stronger you keep your business.”
Humphreys and his staff support many local community organizations and center a lot of their efforts around youth groups and sports teams. They also designed and installed a toy tractor for the local playground. Having a focus for their community support efforts keeps them from reaching out beyond the business’s means.
“There is a limit to how many things we can support as a business,” explains Humphreys. “We try to keep everything youth-based because there is no end to what we want to do. It keeps your community up and alive.”