The One-Stop Shop

As their slogan says, the Smith’s help their customer to sow, grow and mow. They started out with an organic fertilizer formulation company and have since expanded into outdoor power equipment.

With a commercial customer base that makes up 70% of their overall business, they have focused much of their attention on being a one-stop-shop for landscape contractors. Their organic fertilizer company helped them to start off on the right foot in the outdoor power equipment business.

Paul Smith founded and established Sigma Organics, manufacturer and distributor of organic fertilizers, in 1999. During the next few years he was joined by Brother Roger Smith and Sisters Lisa Frith and Melanie Smith to help run the company. 

For the Smith family, taking on an established outdoor power equipment dealership gave them the opportunity to offer even more to their customer base of golf courses, parks, municipalities and landscape contractors. Now they service not only their Sigma customers, but the dealership’s customers as well.

“By having an equipment division, we are able to offer a full line of service,” says Roger. The Smith’s have gone on to expand the parts and equipment offering as well as offer educational opportunities for customers. Through it all, they have positioned themselves as a reliable resource in both businesses.

Parts partners

The Smiths purchased the established Chilton Turf Center with locations in Nashville and Arrington, TN, in 2006. The dealership was known for its strong parts focus with a large inventory of parts numbers. The Smiths continue to offer a large inventory both in-store and now online.

While the majority of total sales come from parts, online parts sales represent a small amount of sales overall. The family added the online service not necessarily hoping for a huge boost in sales, but rather an increase in customer satisfaction and added convenience for contractors.

“The main goal of the online parts lookup availability was to add another service for our equipment-purchasing customers. Any other online part sales are simply an added bonus,” explains Roger. “The online parts availability allows both the commercial and consumer customers to view equipment at their leisure and order service parts for delivery or pick-up at the store.”

Offering the parts lookup is especially attractive to commercial customers who work past the dealership’s closing time and on weekends. They are able to order parts any time of the night and pick them up at the designated commercial-only parts counter at either of the two dealership locations.

The parts kept in stock at Chilton Turf Center are primarily service parts for the brands they sell. “With the service parts in-stock, we can offer a quick turnaround on most service orders,” explains Roger. “This is highly appreciated by the commercial as well as the consumer customer.”

An educational resource

The family at Chilton Turf Center has learned that the best way to position themselves as a business was as an invaluable resource to their customers. The business model they developed with Sigma Organics proved to be a good fit for Chilton Turf Center as well. They make it a point to give customers easy access to products and service, as well as educate them along the way.  

Customers are given access to online parts lookup, equipment pickup and delivery for service, and annual reminders of service needed. On top of that, they also offer many educational opportunities in the form of classes for consumer and commercial customers.

Sigma Organics hosts and sponsors classes related to the application of the materials sold by the company. Seeing the added value it provided to customers, they started holding classes at least once a year in engine maintenance, engine troubleshooting, mower maintenance, chainsaw safety, two-cycle operations and maintenance. They have also added a class on proper use, mix and storage of today’s fuels.

Personalized selling and service

Sigma Organics products are available for purchase at the two dealership locations by homeowners and contractors. This is an added convenience for contractors who need Sigma products on the weekend when the Sigma store is closed.

“Sigma not only sells products, they analyze the customers’ situation and then offer a number of solutions,” says Roger. The Smiths do the same by asking questions of the customer to help determine the right power equipment for their needs. With the increase in customers comes an increase in service orders. There, too, customers are treated to personal service that includes a follow-up call after each work order.

“The service department has become our largest customer,” says Roger. “The personal approach for each customer has been the driving point for an increased customer base for the service department.”

Customers are also given the option of submitting a description of repair or maintenance needs online and receiving a quote before bringing equipment in. This saves the customer and the service department time when equipment is dropped off.

The Smith family has focused on offering more to each business’s customer base. By positioning themselves as a reliable resource, they have continued to grow the customer base and sales for both sides of their complimentary businesses.