Securing your future as an outdoor power equipment dealer is about finding out what your suppliers can do for you and what you can do for your customers. Take a step back and evaluate how your partners and customers performed throughout the recession. What support did your suppliers extend to you, and when and how did your customers turn to you for help?
Seeing how your suppliers and customers act in tough times can help you to sustain as a business. Choosing the right partners and how to go to market is imperative to your success as dealer.
Consider the performances of your manufacturing partners over the last decade. When recession hit, did they thrive and help you to do the same? When times were tough for you, did they extend their support and help you through it or were they too focused on their own survival to account for yours? Do your manufacturers continue to offer the products and service you need to survive?
Dealers are a loyal bunch. You have to get passed the idea of working with the same manufacturers because you have partnered with them for years. What you viewed as a mutually beneficial partnership with your supplier may not have been as beneficial to your dealership as you thought. In order to be number one, you need to look out for number one—and that's you.
Throughout the recession and in the wake, consumers looked to their dealers for help in maintaining their equipment past its prime. Helping customers to drag out the life of their equipment may not have helped your wholegoods sales, but showing customers you had their best interests in mind financially, gains their support for the future.
When customers are then ready make a purchase, they will likely choose you over the big box store that can't help them in the same ways you have throughout the life of their equipment. When choosing to make a purchase with you, the customer wants to be assured they are getting the best value for their money and a product that will last. Show your customers how you can help them to get the most life out of their machine and you will enjoy a long relationship with them.
Maintain an open line of communication with manufacturing partners and customers. You want to hear what about you partnership is working for them as well as inform them of areas where you see room for improvement.
Get beyond basic customer surveys where you ask customers to rate services from 1-10. In order to get real information that helps you to better your product and service offering, get in the habit of having real conversations with customers. These can be conversations you have directly with customers, or conversations held by salespeople who report back to you. Follow up with customers routinely after they have made a purchase or received service to see how you can improve.
Have regular conversations with your suppliers as well. Discuss what you need from them and how they plan to provide what you need. You should also be having conversations with other potential suppliers about how they care for their dealers. Be sure they know that if you are sold on their product, it doesn't necessarily mean you are sold on them as a supplier.
Open communication leads to a better understanding of your manufacturing partners and customers. Knowing how the two operate can help you greatly in securing your future as an outdoor power equipment dealer.