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Repairing All Makes and Brands
A strategy for gaining more business
"We service everything we sell, and others as time permits." This is a sign that appears throughout the sales floor of one dealer. Another has a sign with a humorous touch, "We fix anything you bring into our shop. We need the money". And yet a third shop has a sign, "Due to our desire to cater to the needs of our customers, we are unable to service any equipment other than what we have sold."
Each of these dealers has made a statement to the people walking into their store. In a very positive manner, they have each stated their policy in regards to the repair of equipment they did not originally sell. Hopefully, they have stated their policy in a manner that is as profitable as it is positive. Unfortunately, many dealers have stated their policy as simply a matter of preference.
It is the issue of preference that gets us into trouble. Granted, we have selected many of the lines in our shop because we have a preference for them. But what we need to have in our shop are the lines that we know will sell, and that we can make money with. One of the areas where we get ourselves into trouble is when we don't allow the customer the opportunity to make the decision.
Think about the situation where a shop has had several people walk in and ask for a particular product line. The sales person tells the customer they don't stock that line because they think it is a piece of junk, or that they used to sell that line until it began to show up at the big box store.
After having been a dealer for that product line for many years, the local shop feels that the manufacturer has stabbed them in the back by allowing the box store to carry the line. The feelings may be justified. This writer went through the same thoughts when he had his dealership. However, when it comes to the choice of having these feelings or having the feeling of the money in your pocket, which one do you want to choose?
Let's look at another example. There is the dealer that will not touch an electric string trimmer. "Those electric string trimmers are nothing more than toys", he will say. That may be true, but who is going to help the customer to see that perhaps he needs gas powered equipment instead?
Looking again at the repair issue, many dealers have a policy of not repairing any of the brands of products that were sold in the chain stores. The justification is that they want to teach the customer a lesson. They want that customer to see how difficult it is get service with the box store, if that box store does service at all. Anticipating that the customer has gone shopping for equipment based upon price, this dealer wants the customer to experience the difficulty of taking something back to the chain store. Most likely the customer will find in going to the chain store, a sales clerk that will direct him to the phone book to find the warranty dealer. Now the customer has been directed to a competitor of our dealer.
Another dealer has a policy of repairing equipment that he did not sell originally as well as brands that he does not sell. But, he also has a list of equipment he would not repair. His justification is these certain brands are too much of a problem to bother with. Perhaps this dealer does not have access to a wholesaler that has these parts, or the wholesaler sells parts only to their existing dealers. But, to the customer bringing some of this equipment into the service center, this policy can often be translated as, "We think you made a stupid choice in your purchase. This equipment is a pain to work on." This dealer is probably not going to get any of this customer's repair business.
And yet another dealer has managed to set himself up with parts availability of every brand of product sold in his area. If the initial order for parts of a particular brand is too large to justify, he simply found another dealer that would sell the parts to him. Even when he did not get the full parts margin, he did manage to keep the customer out of the shops of his competition.
The purpose of this article is not to talk a dealer into having a liberal policy regarding service. The intent is to suggest you consider having a policy that can be stated in a positive manner. With each of the three statements at the beginning of this article, the dealers have accomplished that.
One has stated that his first loyalty is to his existing customers, but he will be glad to provide assistance to others as he has time, or parts available. The second has a very progressive position of repairing everything, and hopefully he has the staff that has the necessary materials and training to accomplish this.
The final business has perhaps presented an image that they give such intense attention to their customers that they are unable to provide this to customers of other stores.
These three businesses will be able to promote their business and their service policy in a manner that will direct customers to their business for either repairs or new goods.
Each of the three positions are correct when properly stated for the right reasons. It probably comes down to how much a business wants to bring customers into their shop. What is your position?
This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.
Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.