Anonymous Distributor

The 2017 Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO) is now in the books. It was #__ for me. Enjoyed seeing industry friends and meeting new ones. Too bad they won’t know that by reading this column.

Have you heard of the superhero TurfMutt? The green-caped canine crusader and the rest of the Outdoor Powers — including Big Rooty, Water Warrior, The Oxygenator, Professor Botany and Green Ranger — were created to educate children about the green spaces we live in. TurfMutt and the Outdoor Powers are always spreading the word about the importance of green spaces against evil surroundings like Carbon Creep, Dust Demon, Dr. Runoff, and Heat Freak. You can catch TurfMutt on the Lucky Dog TV show on Saturday mornings on CBS. The TurfMutt website is phenomenal with great resources for all. You should check it out at


Do your customers consider you a superhero? It’s amazing the stuff techs can do. Here is a great example of what I am talking about. Take that 30-year-old mower, snowblower or whatever. The manufacturer of the product quit supporting parts 20 years ago, but one of your customers still owns said product. Yes, I understand that the customer should buy another product to replace it, but doesn’t. You will do everything in your power to get the customer limping back for another season. You’re a superhero in the eyes of the customer.

But since I mentioned it (and not trying to burst your bubble), how long should you try to support the product? At some point, you should tell the customer that he/she needs a new piece of equipment because there is nothing else you can do. (Be careful: This might be a very sad moment for the customer.) The cost of fixing the old product has got to be a pretty good down payment on a new product. So, how do you handle that?

Last year, A.D.’s 18-year-old air conditioner went out. It was hot, and Mrs. A.D. called the cooling people to fix it. When they arrived at our house, it turned out we needed a new condenser to the tune of $600. They reminded us it was 18 years old, and there could be other issues when they install the new condenser. We started talking replacement. They gave us a rundown of the air conditioners that would replace ours. The cheapest air conditioner was $2,500, which was lower than the high-efficiency type. They also combined the cost of the heater, which would probably be next to go. Replacing them at the same time was better for the cost compared to doing them separately. That made sense. So, after a lot of back and forth, we bought a high-efficiency furnace and air conditioner. After all the rebates and other “bargains,” the two units totaled $11,060! It did come with a thermostat that I can change from anywhere in the world, which made the purchase so much easier.

So, here is the way I would tell your customers when it’s time to get a new piece of equipment. Tell them about my $11,060 story, and a $250 lawn mower won’t sound too bad. Just kidding. Make sure that you go over all the updated safety features of the new product. Pretty much everything you sell has been updated in the past 30 years. Tell them that in comparison, the product’s price hasn’t gone up that much during that 30-year-old period. The advancement in technology is worth the excitement of the purchase. And then if none of that works, tell them about my air conditioner story.


By the time you read this, snow MAY be falling in parts of the country. By the time you read this, the days will be shorter on sunlight in the southern parts. By the time you read this, your distributor salespeople will be taking up your time trying to sell their goods to you. Depending on how busy you are will dictate how much time you give them. My suggestion is that you ask them why you should buy their product. How will you make money? What advertising opportunities are there? When are the new items coming out, and am I buying the latest version? Listen, I get it. Manufacturers and distributors are doing their jobs when you ask the tough questions. If any of them get upset with the tough questions, you may have the wrong line. When you succeed, we/they succeed.

Until next month, keep your blades and mind sharp. You can contact me at or tweet like President Trump to @OPEMAGAD. I will respond to you — just ask reader Rob from Pennsylvania.