Equip Expo is about products, yes, but we find people just as interesting, maybe more. At the Husqvarna display, we sat down with Yvette Henshall-Bell, President of Husqvarna’s global professional business unit, to learn more about the manufacturer’s focus on both new products and dealer relations.
OPE Business: When it comes to product development, how does Husqvarna factor the varied network of retail and service businesses handling power equipment?
Yvette Henshall-Bell: We break it down with a user focus. As an organization, our product development teams are laser focused on the users. We’re looking closely at golf course managers right now, for one. Our products need to deliver maximum uptime and durability, and then we will support the channel partners to serve and support the golf course crews, the users. And there are nuances, even in the tree professional group; different users have unique product needs.
Sales & Dealers
OPEB: How does Husqvarna work to differentiate in a marketplace increasingly crowded with equipment manufacturers?
Henshall-Bell: I think we are known for strong and innovative products. And Husqvarna is known as a trusted partner and a brand our channel salespeople can trust. Everything we do keeps that in mind.
We need to be easy to do business with. We need to maintain the best communication, systems, and support tools. If we don’t provide good communication to the dealer, the dealer will not be able to support the customers. And if we don’t communicate the strength of our brand to the consumer – whether a professional or residential customer – they won’t go look for Husqvarna products at the dealer.
If we are easy to do business with, it will be easy for dealers and professionals to do business with the customers. If we’re in partnership, it’s best for all of us. I always have the mindset; let us be easy to do business with. Products alone will not get us where we need to be.
Pro v. Residential
OPEB: How does the sales process differ, from selling for professional users compared to residential buyers?
Henshall-Bell: In my career, I’ve only ever sold to professional customers. And I think consumer needs are getting closer to professional needs. Yet there are distinctions in the products, based on use and frequency. Professionals need more powerful and durable equipment; they need products that withstand use over time. They also need more support, whether in parts or technical support. It’s about maximizing their uptime to do the job.
In the professional world in this industry, we – both dealers and us as manufacturer – have to go out into the world and sell. We must be proactive, out in the market selling. We can just advertise and wait for customers to come in. That may change the shape of the dealers and this industry.
We are developing professional dealers that, as we grow, will need to be out there hunting business. Our Market Development Reps will help with that, but they can’t do it all. And this focus on professional does not mean we are putting less focus on the residential market.
OPEB: What are Husqvarna’s goals for the next couple of years?
Henshall-Bell: One of Husqvarna’s goals is to disrupt in turf, with robotics for golf courses, as one example. A second goal is sustainability. We are on a journey as a company and as an industry, so is America as a nation. We want to partner with our customers on their sustainability journey. And it’s not going to happen overnight.
At the end of the day, we do all this to supply professionals with equipment they use to make money, and to attract people to a venue, whether that’s a golf course or a park or a residential lawn.
While Husqvarna’s product display area at Equip Expo contained both gas and battery-powered products, batteries were the focus. In a news release prior to the show, Carlos Haddad, Vice President of North America, Professional Products at Husqvarna Group said, “We have combined our global innovation capacity with a deep understanding of everyday customer challenges to develop battery and autonomous solutions uniquely suited to not only meeting their current needs, but also anticipating what they will need tomorrow.”
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