How to work with dealers to build a strong relationship

Experts say the right dealer can make life easier for pros. (Photo: Vermeer)
Experts say the right dealer can make life easier for pros. (Photo: Vermeer)
Experts say the right dealer can make life easier for pros. (Photo: Vermeer)
Experts say the right dealer can make life easier for pros. (Photo: Vermeer)

Finding dealers and building strong relationships can be invaluable for landscape professionals. The relationship between the two sides goes far beyond just selling the latest top-of-the-line products and parts.

Dale Siever, general manager, Vermeer Southwest, Chandler, Ariz., and Steve Heckman, sales manager, Cleveland Brothers, Harrisburg, Pa., spoke with Landscape Management to give their thoughts on what landscape professionals should look for when searching for a dealer.


Heckman says finding a dealership that can assist you and keep you up and running should be the first and foremost thing a contractor looks for in a dealer. He says lost time is lost money, especially when landscapers are in the process of bidding on projects. Both Heckman and Siever agree that landscapers should seek out dealers who will be there for them when they need it most.

“You want a dealer that will be able to support you 12 months out of the year and has parts availability and serviceability,” Heckman says. “You don’t want to be waiting weeks and months to get a technician out to you. They should have the capability to bring the machine in and work on it or do it in the field.”

Consultive atmosphere

Dale Siever
Dale Siever

According to Siever, another key benefit to working with a dealer is having knowledgeable salespeople who know the equipment and industry. He says his salespeople know the industries that use the machines and products they sell.

“They understand the industry,” he says. “They attend industry functions, they’re a part of organizations and not only do they know the equipment, but they’re also up to speed on what’s happening in the industry, as well.”

With knowledgeable salespeople immersed in the industry, dealers provide a unique service to landscape professionals, giving them an expert they can get a hold of whenever they need it.

Training is a significant part of what dealers offer to landscape professionals.

“We’re investing a lot of money right now into training our own people and offering training to our customers in the maintenance, safety, operation and all aspects (of the equipment),” Siever says.

Integrity matters

Steve Heckman
Steve Heckman

Heckman says integrity is another trait to seek out in a dealer. He says a dealer shouldn’t try to sell you the most expensive piece of equipment. Instead, the salesperson should be concerned with making sure you’re leaving with the equipment best suited for your job.

“We make sure we have a scope of what they want to do with a machine and what they’re looking to achieve,” Heckman says. “Do they want to own it, is it rent to purchase, a lease or a straight-up purchase? Should we talk about rental fleet equipment that has the price taken down because it was a rental? How about a good used piece of equipment?”

He suggests pros ask if the dealer offers rentals or a rent-to-own program. Dealers can also provide rental fleet equipment for sale at a discounted price.

“It allows the landscaper to take on a project or task they didn’t intend to do,” he says of renting equipment.

“So maybe you’ve got someone doing a lot of flatwork, and suddenly, they’ve got an opportunity to install fencing. They can rent an auger for a day, a couple of days or however long it’s going to take to get the project done.”

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Rob DiFranco

Rob DiFranco is Landscape Management's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Landscape Management, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

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