Anonymous Distributor

Have you ever looked around and wondered what people do for a living? Sometimes, you can spot stockbrokers because they are wearing a suit and talking on the phone. They are not only on the phone, but they are LOUD and on the phone! Maybe that’s not enough of a clue since that can be anyone. But if they are reading the stock market report and talking about a certain symbol, they are likely a stockbroker.

I wonder if anyone can tell that we are in the lawn and garden business. Unless we have a shirt with our company name and a Bob, Randy or Jethro nametag, they probably can’t. Remember what made Jeff Foxworthy famous? It was redneck jokes like the following one: “If you go looking for a wife at a family reunion, you might be a redneck.” Maybe we can start our own. How about this? If you think heavy metal is an engine, you might be a lawnmower dealer. Works for me!

Sometimes, we’re more important than a stockbroker, a professor or even a doctor. When the grass is long and someone’s mower doesn’t start, to whom does that person turn? That’s right, you. At that moment, you are the most important person to that customer.

When customers bring their mower, tractor, tiller, snow blower, leaf blower, sweeper, chain saw, hedge trimmer or string trimmer in for service (deep breath), can you meet their service demands? After all, they’re not in any hurry, right? Have you ever had a customer come in and say, “Take your time. I’m good.”? NOPE!

In our business, being a week behind in service work can be pretty much par for the course, unfortunately. It’s not acceptable to your customer, but sometimes it is what it is. When you fall behind by more than a week, it might be time to stop and assess the situation. What can be done to speed up the service work process? What keeps you from having the right parts when you need them? If you’re like most dealers, having the right inventory isn’t easy. If your distributor is any good, most of the time it can get you parts the next day with ground prices. Between tying up your money and most likely having space issues, it’s just easier to use the distributor’s warehouse. I get it.

Once upon a time, A.D. worked for a manufacturer. The preseason stocking program generally saw 60 percent of a customer’s annual business ordered on an early season discount program. The other 40 percent was scattered over the rest of the season. Today, it isn’t like that. If a distributor can get 40 percent of his dealers to order early, that’s pretty good, actually really good. So, what would it take to get you to order early but not have an investment? What if it could be done without being charged until you use it?

Recently while in the doctor’s office, I noticed there were medical supplies in a cabinet. The shelves held bins with parts, and the bins had barcodes on them. I started wondering if the doctor had an agreement with a company that filled the cabinets when they got low and left an invoice for what had been used. It does make sense to you, right? If you are using floor planning, it better!

So it got me thinking. I thought, “A.D., do you suppose dealers would go for this? Do you think it could help them with their service work response time? Do they care?” So I ask, what if your distributor could give you a special cabinet filled with fast-moving parts, check it each month (maybe by you), send you replacement parts, and then leave you an invoice? Would that work? Somehow, you have to take days out of your service shop wait times. Let A.D. know what you think by emailing me at or tweeting me @OPEMAGAD.

Enjoy your late spring and early summer business! Give your customers rock star results because no one is talking about the good things you do, just the bad. If their grass is 7 inches high and you’re telling them you have a 2-week wait on mower service, you might hear or read about it.