Contractor customers offer you regular parts business and high-margin equipment sales. Attracting them to your dealership through your marketing is the first step, but keeping them around requires building a bond. A bond with the customer can be built on your genuine concern for their success and the contractor-exclusive services you provide after the sale.
It starts with service
There are many reasons a landscape contractor chooses a certain dealer to partner with, but it mainly boils down to service. While product loyalty goes a long way, if the service isn’t there to back it up, contractors will go elsewhere. They rely too much on their dealers for support to stick around just for the product offering.
"Personalized service would have to be the number one reason I chose independent dealers over 'big box' stores," says Bryan Mours of Mour Growth Consulting and a previous landscape contractor for over 20 years. Mours also spent time on the other side of the business with LESCO, which is now John Deere Landscapes.
"The dealer learns the contractor's needs quickly and works feverously to meet those needs," Mours adds. "They call on the contractor regularly and alert them in advance of inventory changed and deals that will be running."
Show a professional and personal interest
The way to succeed in meeting your contractor customer's needs is to know all that you can about their business. Maintain constant and open communication with them so you can stay on top of any changes within their business that could affect what they require from you.
Also show an interest in them personally, to show you not only care that their business succeeds, but that they themselves are happy. This shows that you care not just about the business they bring you, but for them as individuals.
"It is always nice to walk in somewhere and be greeted by name, and to be asked not only how business is going, but how things are in my personal life," says Mours. "Like from the old 'Cheers' show, you want to go where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came."
Going the extra mile
Dealers have many opportunities to go the extra mile with contractors, offering everything from a cold bottle of water to exclusive service hours. Whatever is within your means for showing contractors they are a priority, you should be doing it.
"Often times dealers would come to our office with a dozen donuts or meet me in the morning for a cup of coffee," shares Mours. "Most dealers would also have a yearly cookout for their valued customers."
Beyond appreciation events and items, you should find ways to show contractors you value their business with your services. Special services that save them time and show they are priority customers go a long way in building that bond.
"I had an independent dealer who had a second-shift mechanic that would repair my mowers at night so they were ready for me the next day," says Mours. "Some dealers also offered the delivery of small items like equipment parts or urgent deliveries right to my jobsites if I was short something and needed it to finish the job that day."
Another way to save your valued customer's valuable time is by offering certain fringe items that eliminate a stop for the contractor during their busy day. Some dealers with larger operations offer mulch, but there are some lower-maintenance items you can stock as well.
"Small drainage parts like tees, elbows and connectors require less space," explains Mours. "Bags of fertilizer, grass seed and some herbicide was nice to get me through until my truckload of product came in."
Talk to your customers and find out what products and services could make life easier for them. Keeping an open dialogue with them about their needs and how you can meet them shows the level of care and service you are willing and able to provide.
"Often times my dealer would add things to their inventory because they knew I would buy it regularly," says Mours. "It was nice that they always cared about my needs and did what they could to accommodate."