Before becoming a dealer, Doug Hampton was a landscape maintenance contractor who traveled 25 miles or more to get parts and receive major repairs. Putting the miles on driving to the nearest dealer, he saw a need for a servicing retailer in his area and he became one.
But instead of catering to the market he knows so well, the professional landscaper, Hampton became the resident expert for the do-it-yourself rural homeowner. Previously offering landscaping services to the homeowner market, he used that knowledge to build relationships with the market and grow sales.
The homeowner’s resource
Before opening the doors of Hampton Lawn & Garden in Marshfield, MO, Hampton was a successful landscape contractor providing lawn maintenance services to area residents. Those same residents began to turn to him as a resource for their outdoor power equipment needs.
The customer base that Hampton attracts has always been more consumer than commercial, with 90% percent of their equipment sales coming from rural homeowners. He has used his knowledge and experience gained during his time spent as a landscape maintenance contractor to gain the trust and loyalty of customers.
A trusted dealer, Hampton isn’t just pushing the high-margin buys, but the right buys for every customer’s needs. Getting customers the right product for their needs the first time can go a long way. Hampton would rather rely on a large amount of low-margin purchases over an extended period of time than a one-time high margin buy from a customer not likely to return.
“My past experience helps a lot when advising customers on lawn care products and how to care for their properties,” explains Hampton. “The homeowners appreciate our guidance and tend to be more loyal.”
Along with his heavy stock of equipment and parts, Hampton also offers gardening supplies, hand tools, apparel, bulk garden seed, garden hoses, lawn care chemicals and mulch. As a one-stop shop for customers, they enjoy a lot of add-on sales.
“We have a lot of customers come in just for mulch and will wander over to the equipment and start checking out the mowers,” explains Hampton. “It works both ways, and having such a wide product offering just adds to the floor traffic. The more you have the better.”
Hampton also educates his customers on how to do simple maintenance at home, reserving the service hours in the shop for repairs that bill higher. The take-home tips he offers are usually accompanied by a parts purchase.
“We stay on top of what parts are most commonly needed by our customers and are sure to keep them on hand,” says Hampton. “We want to help those that are in a bind to get their repairs done quickly.”
In the winter months, the dealership runs specials on preventative maintenance to keep the shop staff busy and the business profitable. He has five full-time staff members and three additional part-time employees in the peak season.
With their sales growth, the majority being from homeowner sales, the Hamptons were able to add 3,000 square feet to their showroom in 2008 and 1,000 square feet to the service department in 2010. Future plans include a revamp of the company website making it even easier for the homeowner customer base to see what they have to offer.