Dealers’ Domain

Question: How do you grow your service business?

I don’t have a problem growing my service business. Years ago, I started accepting big box brands for service as our own equipment sales dropped. If I put a few ads in the local shopper paper, I can have my shop flooded with work. Growing the business is easy, but keeping the operation running efficiently as you grow it is another problem. I have found it more profitable to limit my advertising and provide quick service. We avoid tripping over and damaging equipment, fielding the calls from irate customers who have been waiting weeks for service. A satisfied customer whose equipment was finished when promised is willing to pay a premium for good service. I don’t consider a waiting time of more then a week to be good customer service.
— Rob Leiser
Leiser’s Sales and Rental
Easton Pa.

There are three parts to a dealership — sales, parts and the shop — and they need each other to work together. It’s not that we can’t break it down more, but these are the basic pieces and they are all important.
We are lacking on after-sale communication to our customers as to what we really offer vs. what the customer knows about.
The first thing to help is to have the right staff to fix it right the first time! Be in touch with the customer after the repair, so that if the repair has a glitch, you are the first one to know and to get it dealt with quickly. Those added phone calls will give the customer confidence of your sincere desire to take care of issues.
Have you ever thought of adding a before-warranty-expiration-date inspection for a nominal fee for the machine?
When a machine does enter the shop, do you fix only what’s on the work order and never question anything else? There are big dollars left on the table when it’s right there! Up sell!
— Art White
 White’s Farm Supply
Waterville, N.Y.

Since I’m seriously over-advertised for my small business, I’ve had to find a way to handle the increasing influx of equipment. I found, by providence, an unemployed, mature, small-engine mechanic whose father repaired small engines for 40 years. As a result of growing up in his father’s shop, small-engine repair is in his blood. Also, this mechanic recently took a yearlong small-engine course at the regional technical school. I deliver my excess work to him and pick it up when finished. He does high-quality work, orders his own parts, and has a big well-equipped shop and low overhead.
My turnaround time is about the same as if I worked twice as fast and had no walk-in customers to chat me up.
— Flute Snyder
Hudson Mower Doctor
Hudson, Wis.

We do the normal advertising in the local area and the winter and spring specials, but the best way we grow our service business is by giving great customer service to all of our customers, and they, in turn, give us great reviews to their friends and relatives.
We answer customer questions in person, on the phone, and by e-mail. So, we try and keep all of the lines of communication open, so that they know what is going on at all times.
We are always looking for new ways to fill customer needs, beginning with the sales of new equipment to answering questions on equipment someone else sold.
— Gordon Jamison, service manager
Lawn & Leisure of Lee’s Summit
Lee’s Summit, Mo.

Having a quality business all around is what grows the service area. Customer service is our highest priority. Our customers trust us and refer us to others. Sell only top-quality brand names, and I think we have a recipe for success.
— Matthew Borden, owner
Ed & Matt Equipment
Greenville, R.I.

When we took over the business eight years ago, we only serviced what we sold. Since that time, we have expanded the brands that we have serviced. In fact, since I have a supplier that can get me parts for the old EHP brands, my local Sears store sends customers to me. Since we started servicing the other brands, it has spread by word of mouth, and it has helped both our service and parts departments.
— Todd Biddinger, manager
T&T Rent-All
Rochester, Ind.

Slow and steady! Service can only grow if all the pieces are in place (a great mechanic; fast and efficient parts look-up/ordering; and an efficient, clear, order intake process). Keep “come backs” to a bare minimum, and handle those well. I’ll-do-anything-to-satisfy-a-REASONABLE-customer word of mouth is great, but we never miss a chance to brag on our service department.
— Dean Davis
Dogwood Fireplace & Lawn
Carbondale, Ill.

Just trying to give quick service. Mailed flyers in the past to get folks thinking before spring, offering a tune-up special. Not sure it was worth the extra labor and cost to mail out.
— Tony Nation
Nation’s Small Engine, Inc.
Hot Springs, Ark.

We might offer free or reduced amount of delivery charge. We also have loaners available.
— Kay Annear
Annear Equipment
Adel, Iowa


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