The folks at Barry's Gravely Tractors can't tell you exactly what makes their lawn and garden equipment dealership unique. Rick Stalvey Jr. of Rick Roberts Lawn Service, on the other hand, doesn't have a problem coming up with something.
"It's their dependability," Stalvey says.
Landscape contractors such as Stalvey have come to rely on the parts availability, service expertise and product knowledge provided by Barry's Gravely Tractors in Fort Myers, FL. Having a reliable dealer like Barry's has allowed Stalvey's company to more than triple in size. Similar stories could be shared by dozens of other contractors who've done business with Barry's over the years.
However, parts availability and service reliability are just part of the routine order of business in this line of work, according to co-owner Steve Barry.
"We realize the landscaper makes his living with our equipment, so it's critical that we have fast access to the right parts and run our service department as efficiently as possible," Barry explains.
To help speed up parts department operations, the dealership began investing in parts storage cabinets a few years ago. Today, 12 full-size Stanley Vidmar cabinets, in addition to two half cabinets, have helped cut the dealership's parts storage footprint nearly in half. Customer satisfaction has improved as a result of the better parts organization. Plus, the showroom now gets an extra 1,000 square feet of space.
On the service side, improvements to their computer system such as integrated credit card processing, product registration within the system, the ability to email statements, and faster warranty reconciliation have helped Barry's become more efficient and provide the best possible service to their customers.
For better or worse, Mother Nature affords Barry's the opportunity to take a hard look at how they can improve each year. Contrary to popular belief, lawn maintenance contractors do not mow 12 months a year in Florida. Barry says sales quiet down by November and don't pick back up again until at least April, which gives them time to breathe and evaluate their business. Of course, that also means they have to keep a closer eye on their financials to ensure a healthy bottom line during the winter months.
"We have to be really on top of things to make sure we're putting enough money away to get us through our off-season," Barry clarifies. "We don't have a snow season or leaf season. It's either wet or dry, and dry is not good."
Top-of-the-line products help you stand out
Barry's Gravely Tractors only sells top-of-the-line outdoor power equipment they believe in, including Scag, Stihl, Honda and, of course, Gravely—the product line John Sr. and Ruth Barry sold door-to-door when they founded the dealership in 1964.
However, their most unique product offering, Wright Stander, has become very popular among commercial landscapers after Barry's helped introduce the concept of "stand-up mowing" to the Southwest Florida market.
"It took about three seasons to get this thing (Wright Stander) to really take off," Barry recalls. "We got out there and demoed, demoed, demoed. We set up appointments with contractors, but even just walked right up to guys in the field to talk with them. It took some time, but professionals started to see how standing up isn't nearly as hard on your back as sitting all day. Contractors also like the fact that stand-on mowers are much lighter than riders, which is a big plus during our rainy season. Stand-on mowers are also much shorter, so you can get more on a trailer."