The original service department, now dedicated solely to powersports, featured a pull-through bay that commercial customers enjoyed and appreciated. To keep them happy, space was found to add one on the side of the building next to the power equipment shop. As they continue to add to the building's structure, they've realized a move might be imminent.
"We would like to buy the lot behind the business and continue to expand, but the price is far too high," explains Fobes. "We anticipate moving the business to another location in the next two years to accommodate the growth. For now we will just grow with what we have and do the best we can."
Adapting to the customer base
The team at Engelhart works hard to grow and maintain the customer base. They look for every opportunity to attract a potential customer or meet a new need. When an area dealer Anderson Thomas closed their doors, Fobes saw the opportunity to reach out to the customers left behind.
"They struggled with the big box competition like the rest of us. Their customer base continued to shrink and they had to close," explains Fobes. "I wanted to take on those customers left behind that hadn't gone to the big box."
Fobes had a clever idea for getting customers to Engelhart Greensmith—they took over the closed business' phone number and added a line that went straight to his desk at Engelhart.
"We had to wait a year to have the phone line, but the wait was well worth it," says Fobes. "In the beginning it rang 10 times a day. We eventually had it directed to a central mailbox with a voicemail saying, 'We are now servicing Anderson Thomas customers." It was important to mention Anderson Thomas so people wouldn’t think they had called the wrong number.
For $16 a month, Fobes says it was the best money they have ever spent on marketing. After taking on a lot of the Anderson Thomas customers, and hearing what brands they prefer, Fobes is considering adding them to their offering.
Their commercial customer base will be their next focus, as Fobes and the team find ways to grow it. Currently, commercial customers make up 20% of their business. Fobes' goal is to get it to 50% commercial and 50% consumer.
"We stick with the same philosophy we use for consumer customers and support the commercial customers after the sale," explains Fobes. "To speed that growth we are bringing in the products they are looking for, stocking high demand parts, and keeping repair time turnaround to next-day if not sooner."
Some of the products they are looking to bring in include walk-behind blowers and vacuums as well as chippers. They are also considering stocking more of the common accessories such as leaf collection units and mulch kits.
They also have loaners available for brands they sell and offer services to benefit mid-sized commercial cutters who don't have their own mechanics. New extended hours will also be introduced to attract the commercial base.
"They need the service as an added benefit to increase their production time," says Fobes. "We will be opening our service and parts departments earlier at least one day a week as the cutting season approaches."
The business is open until 7 p.m. four days a week during the spring and summer, but Fobes says sometimes it is easier for customers to grab a belt or blade in the morning than at night.
"The commercial segment is an excellent growth opportunity and meeting their needs will be the success of building those relationships," says Fobes. "Customer service is a critical component of a successful business, customers are more demanding and do not have time for excuses. We are listening to our customers and trying to offer as many of the products, parts and services they need as possible. It helps us to continuously grow and diversify."