By Steve Noe
April showers bring much more than flowers for all outdoor power equipment dealers in May.
All of those customers, who you haven’t seen since the fall (and perhaps the spring or summer if they don’t own a snowblower), are now coming out of hibernation and wanting you to most likely service their lawn and garden equipment — yesterday.
In the case of my local OPE dealer, he quoted me a two-and-a-half week wait to get my self-propelled 21-inch walk-behind mower serviced, and he said that was with having his service technicians working 12-hour days! Fortunately, I brought my mower to him before the grass turned green and started to grow. As editor of Outdoor Power Equipment, I’m also very sympathetic about his situation and tend to exhibit more patience than most people. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for my dealer to tell the same story to the customers who followed in my footsteps by bringing their mowers in to be serviced only to walk away disgruntled and perhaps take their mower elsewhere to be serviced.
Fittingly, we chose to make customer service the theme of this issue and will do our best to lend a helping hand with dealing with difficult customers. Jeff Sheets, who recently launched his own consulting company called OPE Consulting Services, provides us with the cover story on how to use technology to win over customers and how to handle customer complaints (see page 14). Greg Carradus, director of sales for Ideal Computer Systems, Inc., gives you with seven proven ways to create the ultimate customer experience and breed customer loyalty in the process (see page 18). If you would like to know how your fellow dealers handle customer complaints, be sure to check out “Dealers’ Domain” on page 24. On another customer-related note, Heather Blessington, ARI’s chief marketing officer, gives you some excellent advice on how to boost customer referrals (see page 16).
I hope that you will find all of this advice helpful in delivering excellent customer service and wish you the best of luck this season.
OPE Editor Steve Noe