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Working with dealers

January 14, 2020 -  By
Man mowing with a ride-on machine (Photo: Kioti)

Little downtime When dealers have equipment repaired on time, it helps landscape pros get back on the job. (Photo: Kioti)

When it comes to finding and holding on to the right dealer, there are several things landscape professionals should keep in mind — beyond knowing if dealers stock quality and innovative products.

Landscape Management spoke to Pat Lyons, owner of Pat’s Power Equipment in Charlestown, R.I., and Curtis Smith, owner and president of C. Smith and Son Farm Equipment in Clyde, Texas, to get the dealers’ perspectives on cultivating a working relationship between landscape professionals and dealers.

C. Smith and Son Farm Equipment provides landscape professionals with Kioti tractors, UTVs and zero-turn mowers. Lyons and his father started the business in 1975 and mostly served farmers until about 15 years ago. It has been a million-dollar Kioti dealership every year since 2008.

Pat’s Power Equipment has served as a Ferris dealer for 24 years and is one of the oldest Ferris dealers in the country, according to Lyons. It provides landscape pros with Ferris mowers, blowers and spreader-sprayers, among other products.

1. Knowledgeable staff

Because landscape professionals often turn to their dealers with equipment questions and servicing needs, it’s important that the dealership and its employees are educated on the equipment they offer.

Events, demos and various educational seminars often help dealers stay up to date on the equipment.

“When we order something, we end up schooling ourselves,” Smith says. “We own all of the equipment ourselves, so we do the landscaping at our personal houses with the same equipment that we sell. We know our equipment.”

Rack of Stihl equipment (Photo: C. Smith and Son Farm Equipment)

Equipment experts Often, dealers serve as the go-to source for equipment questions. (Photo: C. Smith and Son Farm Equipment)

2. Customer support

Quality service and equipment support are other factors landscape pros should look for in a dealer, according to Lyons.

“It’s about a solid reputation and the ability to provide a positive working relationship built on trust,” Lyons says. “It’s having an expert service department with a well-stocked parts department.”

One way Pat’s Power Equipment has demonstrated customer support, Lyons says, is by explaining the benefits of suspension and then selling several units with suspension to customers who experience back pain.

Smith adds that the family-owned aspect of his company helps contribute to building strong customer relationships.

“When you talk to someone here, it’s not a salesman you’re ever going to talk to; it’s an owner of the business,” he says. “Everything is a lot more personal to us than it would be if you had an employee who doesn’t have at stake what we have at stake.”

3. Timeliness

For C. Smith and Son, servicing equipment after the sale in a timely fashion is also a priority.

“If you can’t do that for them, you won’t see them again,” Smith says. “That’s our goal, and that’s why we’re going to take care of those people. If I was going to look for somebody to buy any type of equipment from, I would want to know that the service is what the service should be.”

Other important questions for landscape pros to ask, according to Lyons, include: Is the dealer able to meet the landscapers’ needs with inventory, expert service, warranty and parts support? How long has the dealer been in business, and what is the dealership’s reputation? Does the dealer offer competitive financing programs? Does the dealer have a loaner or demo program?

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's managing 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. She can be reached at swebb@northcoastmedia.net.

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