Anything but 'Average'

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."

A stand-on fertilizer spreader/spray machine made by Z-Spray, Billy Goat vacuums and Little Wonder blowers round out Barry's product offering.

Taking your business on the road

With a customer base spread across multiple counties, Barry's realizes it's not always easy or even possible for their higher-volume commercial customers, primarily golf courses and larger landscape contractors, to come to them every time they need a part or a new piece of equipment. So, in an effort to provide the highest level of customer service, the dealership uses a Nissan NV Commercial Van stocked with common replacement parts and supplies to bring "the shop," as the Barry's likes to call their dealership, to these customers.

Furthermore, taking their business on the road helps maintain a presence in the marketplace that commercial advertising can't.

"This is a very competitive business," Barry says. "We have to be willing to go out and get it. We have to be known for going the extra mile."

In a sense, you also have to be willing to go out and get the average landscaper's business, not to mention the everyday homeowner's—even though they typically come to you at your dealership. Barry says that is accomplished by having what they need when they need it, and going the extra mile to help make their lives easier.

Case in point, Rick Stalvey Jr.—that contractor who said Barry's Gravely Tractors' "dependability" is what has most earned his loyalty—has been working hard to reduce downtime amongst his maintenance crews. Barry's Gravely has helped Stalvey assemble tool kits for each of his trailers so that crews can troubleshoot and fix minor problems in the field.

To a busy contractor like Stalvey, this type of gesture is anything but typical of the average dealer. To the Barry's, though, it's nothing more than the normal order of the day.

"We're just honest, hard-working people trying to do the best job we can for our customers," Barry simply states. "I don't know if that makes us better than anyone else, but it does make us good."

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