Anonymous Distributor

Your season is now in full bloom, ladies and gentlemen. Time to make hay. That is, if you’re now calling money hay.

While traveling the other day in the fine state of __________, I was calling on some dealers. (To be honest, this column is being drafted in mid-May and those dealers are already 3-4 weeks out.) One owner was answering phones, and I heard him repeatedly say, “We are 2 weeks out right now,” obviously referring to how long the customer’s repair will make it to the service shop. I could hear the caller do his best to get the dealer to say, “Well, today sir is your lucky day. I am going to move you all the way to the top! Bring that mower in, and we’ll have it ready for you tomorrow! If you have any other power equipment that needs to be serviced, we’ll get that done too!” Fat chance, Mr. Customer! We all know that doesn’t happen.

Some of the burden of delay falls on the customer. You know that, the customer knows that, but the customer doesn’t care. The sooner you realize that as a business owner, the better you’ll be preparing for this time of year. Desperate times produce desperate measures.

Would a desperate customer be so desperate that he or she would pay a bunch more to get his or her mower fixed earlier than 2-3 weeks? If yes, how much more? One-and-a-half times more? Two times more? Three times more? What’s the biggest problem of being busy (actually, super busy)? I think it’s time. Your bottom line question might be “How much is MY time worth?” The customer’s bottom line question might be “Do I agree with your answer?” You probably know where I am heading with this. So I wouldn’t normally insult you, but since I have an obligation to write so many words in this column, I will. (It will help me hit my quota!) Maybe it’s time to have your customers show how much they’ll pay to get their mowers rapidly repaired. Hang a sign, and start high. You can even call it “RAPID REPAIR CHARGE” and make the rate a huge amount. Let your A.D. know if you do it, and what the results were by emailing me at or tweeting me @OPEMAGAD. I may mention your response in a future column.

Let’s talk about another topic for a moment. Do you publicize all of the things that your dealership does? If so, do you do this through social media, word of mouth, advertising, small town newspaper, or another way? Let’s face it: Things in our industry are changing real fast. In the past, you might see an industry change occur once every year. Today, with cell phones, Internet sales, and e-mail, our worlds are changing every day. The other day, I needed to buy a small tiller/cultivator. The first place I looked was the stock here at my distributorship. Then, I turned to the Internet to check prices. To my amazement, I found a new, reliable, gas-powered tiller/cultivator for $158 that could be delivered in two days. What I did is not the point, but the scary part is the effect it has on you, the dealers. This is why I ask if you publicize all that you do. You may weld and not publicize it. You can’t get that on the Internet. Perhaps you hang Christmas lights in the winter. Maybe you do total engine rebuilds. My point is that your customers may be unaware of some of the services that you can provide. You can’t get some of the services you provide on the Internet. Discover those skills, and then tell the world.

Hard to believe that fall is quickly approaching as you read this. Early indicators are a drier winter and warmer temps. But as your A.D. says, I have to see it to believe it. Have a great sales month, and make hay while you can!