Congratulations ladies and gentlemen, you are finally busy! Now that you’re busy, do you have time to read this article? I hope so, because this month’s article is about growth through different accounts.
First, let’s focus on your customers – current and potential. I don’t know your customers by name, but I have an idea who they are and where they come from. They are local homeowners who wait until they have a problem. And although you have some smart, proactive customers, the last-second customer makes up most of your base. You might be known for your expertise with professionals and, therefore, homeowners come and go. How well do you think you know your own customers? If you say you know them by name, what they do, and what their sign is, then good for you. But do you know what makes them tick? Why do they come to you? What makes you better than the other dealers in your area?
Now let’s focus on the most important group of customers – those you don’t have. Who is missing from your customer list? Let me guess a few of them – landscapers, colleges and universities, irrigation installers, and the customers going to your competition.
The predicament for many dealers, maybe like you, is that there’s no time to find new business. Perhaps you are right. After all, you can’t leave your business to find new business…or can you? Advertising in the wrong places might be a waste of money. But what about investing in a person? This person would travel around the city or rural district looking for new business at one of the places mentioned earlier. You’re probably saying “A.D. you have no clue what I have to go through every day! You must think we have all the money in the world to blow on a person. What if they don’t bring me any business?” Again, maybe you are right. But let’s assume you aren’t. An independent rep is a rep who works strictly on commission. They have no salary, no benefits, and no expenses that are paid by you. The idea is for you to have exposure to groups that you wouldn’t normally have.
“Where can I find one of those A.D.?” I would start by word of mouth and see where that takes you – maybe at church, or maybe through a neighbor. The point is, there are people out there who might be able to get you more business for a 5- to 10-percent commission check. Many retirees are younger than before and are getting bored. You surely know someone like that.
Colleges and universities could be a real winner if you aren’t selling them today. There are multiple pieces of equipment that are generated annually and the parts business can be fruitful. Sometimes there is a little work involved in selling to a place that has to bid out their business. In other cases, all you need is a relationship with the account. That’s where the rep can come in. Make them earn their money by completing the sale from start to finish.
With all of that said, you also need to know the other side. If you choose not to sell to some of these unfamiliar accounts, your competition might. There’s someone selling to them today, and you might be shocked where they get some of their parts. It could be online; it could be a catalog house; or it could be your suppliers.
Online companies and specialty distributors are forcing their way into these types of accounts. And because the customer generally has more money allocated to them than time, companies that still deliver parts are appealing. NAPA and companies like them offer free same-day delivery. How can you compete with that? Easily. Give customers a discount. Hey, A.D. gets it, your margins are already lower than you want. I have taken a few dollar bills to the bank and have been able to deposit them in an account. However, there aren’t many banks that I know of that will accept a deposit of nothing.
We’re ALL leaving business on the table. Searching for new customers should be easy, not hard. But there has to be a commitment to work at it. A typical dealer takes what they get. I am suggesting you go get what you want. Know your profit margins, know what you need to survive, and then get noticed.
Feel free to let me know where you stand on this. You can e-mail me at OPEMAGAD@gmail.com or Tweet me @OPEMAGAD. Until next month, keep your blades and mind sharp!