Dealer and distributor partners in success

November 20, 2019 -  By
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Distributor supplies (Photo: Kurtz Bros.)

In the know Landscapers can learn the latest trends from their dealers. (Photo: Kurtz Bros.)

Dealers and distributors aren’t just providers of parts, equipment or materials for the next design/build and installation project. They can also share business advice, operating techniques, product knowledge, financing support and solutions with their customers.

Three dealers share the benefits of building relationships with customers.

Share updates, concerns

It’s about forming customer connections for Richard Miller, corporate sales manager, retail and commercial, TriGreen Equipment in Athens, Ala. It starts by spending time with landscapers, letting them test out equipment, answering questions and earning their trust.

“We don’t mention selling anything to them before we build a relationship,” Miller says. “Sometimes, we call on them for a year before they make their first purchase.”

While dealers don’t have to know the details of landscapers’ finances, Miller says it helps to know in advance if they are having issues or need a payment extension. “We would be able to work with them, instead of just getting a call that they didn’t make a payment,” he says.

In addition to finances, Miller said it’s easier for both sides if landscapers are up front about their pre- and post-season needs. That includes communicating the type of equipment, parts and services they’ll require so the dealer can have those available.

To ensure contractors take full advantage of support, priority service and a no-downtime guarantee, Miller says they should work with a dealer they trust, instead of price shopping each time.

On-site attention

Understanding what a dealership offers helps landscapers get the most value, says Jerry Mueller, sales manager, Bobcat of St. Louis. This dealership focuses on compact construction equipment and can provide customers with expert insight on the machines.

It also provides its customers with operator training courses, service rentals or loaners, safety information and equipment/attachment applications.

“Our salesmen will go out to the job site, see what their needs are and try to help however we can,” Mueller says. They continue to build that relationship to make sure the contractor has the right equipment, parts and service.

Added value

Distributors build relationships with landscapers in a number of ways, says Cameron Maneri, hardscape specialist at Kurtz Bros. in Willowick, Ohio. That includes providing product knowledge, problem-solving abilities, relatability, attention, timeliness, dedication to customer success, honesty and a hands-on approach.

“As a dealer, you need to understand goals and objectives,” Maneri says. “If the customer has a goal for the year, start planning on how you, as a dealer, can get them to that goal.”

That relationship benefits landscape companies because they can then discuss industry insights, product development and be the first to know about new products or installation techniques from their dealer, Maneri says. Negotiating is also easier, he adds, because there’s a mutual respect and understanding of each other’s business.

Many dealers also develop connections with manufacturers to bring the best value to their clients. “We look for vendors who know and stand by their products just like we do with our in-house manufactured products, mulch and topsoil,” Maneri says.

He encourages contractors to communicate with their dealer as much as possible and build trust with them, and he says he tries to talk to a handful of customers daily.

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's associate editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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