Readers who glance at our title for this month will question what the “Aftermarket guy” can tell them about selling their dealership. Equipment dealers in all industries have been going through the stage where buyouts of competitors, mergers and consolidations are all the rage. Manufacturers in all industries want to do business with fewer and fewer dealers, but still want the same number of distribution points. Some big players are buying out their competition in an effort to satisfy their suppliers’ increasing desire to improve market share.
So while the title to this article may seem misleading to you, we will state that possibly the most important basic that many dealers ignore is to sell their dealership to that extremely important and sophisticated group of customers and prospective customers who have an interest in buying their products! Today’s market is clogged with look-a-like products all vying for the customer’s dollar. How many lift truck dealers, farm equipment dealers, construction equipment dealers, lawn mower or golf and turf
Over the years, we have witnessed hundreds of equipment dealers who have been (in their minds) fortunate to line up with the distribution rights of the leader or the second best in the industry which they have chosen. After that task is complete, the dealers simply sit back and wait for the customers to beat a path to their door. They forget the obvious and they ignore the basic that so many understood from the beginning. A dealership is a people business, it is a networking business. People will seldom buy from you until creditability has been established and creditability comes when people understand who your company is, who you and your employees are, and the product lines your company represents. Seldom will a sale be consummated until creditability is established.
Yes, your manufacturers and suppliers can bring creditability to your dealership. However it takes even more effort on the part of the dealer to achieve this creditability. You must put forth a dedicated effort to sell (market) your dealership. This is exactly what successful, profitable and market share dealers do . . . . . they sell their dealerships and gain creditability.
We have seen a growing number of dealers who have, along with their managers and staff, been getting away from the dealership and all its’ interruptions to talk and discuss strategy for selling their dealership. It works, and those who participate will come away with the true feeling of contribution to the decision making process and that they are becoming a part of the team.
This team process can work better by emphasizing the word “HOW” rather than the word “WHY.” A manager in Texas asked his technicians how they could clean up their shop, both for efficiency and for customer appearances. Result: Thirty-six of forty technicians showed up one Saturday morning to work all day (without pay) to clean up the shop and they have an on-going program for keeping the shop clean on a daily basis.
In these strategy meetings, discuss openly the strengths and the weaknesses of the dealership. Compare yourself with the competition. Ask and answer the question as to how the dealership can overcome its’ weaknesses and develop its’ strengths in drawing customers and prospective customers to the dealership to purchase. Why should your prospective customers buy from you again and again? What is it about your dealership, your products or service, or your employees that should make them want to buy from you or not buy from you? Are you better than your prospective customers’ current supplier? Can your dealership prove itself to the buying customer?