By Brian Hall

As a general rule, manufactures typically sell their products through dealers. This insures the end user can get prompt, qualified service and support. But aside from the occasional sales call, not too many folks know what makes the typical dealership tick. This month, I thought we’d pull back the curtain and take a peek behind the scenes. The problem is, there’s no curtain! Today’s dealership is pretty darn transparent, all you have to do is ask. The top dealerships don’t hide anything because in today’s world of fast communication, the consumer is king! So let’s look at a few of the things you should be learning about your local dealer.

It’s 100% about the relationship.
As I heard a sales manager at a top dealer say, “If we lose a deal, it’s only because somebody else gave the customer something we didn’t.” It may sound simple or cliché, but think about it, what are you looking for when you buy a piece of equipment? The easy answer is “I want the best price.” But would you be surprised that when surveyed, equipment owners ranked acquisition price as 7th most important factor in their decision? The top factor? The personal relationship with the equipment dealer. This relationship goes far beyond an occasional lunch or hats on the jobsite, it’s the intimate knowledge the local dealer has about the local construction climate. When a dealer can sit with the contractor and become a partner instead of a means to an end, then you’ve got something special. The next time your dealer representative drops by, take some time to discuss what you have going on and see if they are properly equipped to provide the best solution. When you form this relationship, both sides profit, the contractor because of higher efficient machines and lower downtime and the dealer because of repeat sales.

Service after the sale.
As we have all heard, “The sales department sells the first unit, but product support sells the rest.” This is especially true in today’s asphalt environment. When a part of the paving train goes down, the clock is ticking. As equipment manufacturers, we judge our dealerships on parts stocking, fill rates and above all, customer satisfaction. To that end, the equipment dealer is constantly monitoring stocking levels to insure that if you need a part that could take down a paving job, that part can be sourced quickly and painlessly. Make no mistake, however, dealers also hold manufacturers to a high standard so they can adequately service the market. As an equipment operator, it is imperative that if you find that your dealership isn’t stocking a particular item that you consider critical, bring it to their attention. This doesn’t have to be big items like screed plates or auger flights, it can be something as boring as DEF or even your favorite release agent. Your time is critical and the dealer knows that if you have to waste time searching for an item, you’ll stop searching at his store.

Take the tour.
See for yourself, there is no curtain. Meet everyone at the dealership. Look at their parts department and meet the folks that answer your call when you are down. Let them show you how capable they are. You might be surprised to find that they stock parts for equipment that they don’t even sell. That’s right, they might have a hose shop that can make any hose you need. Or how about rubber tracks for your skid steer? You mean I can get skid steer parts from a dealer that doesn’t sell skid steers? Sit down with the service manager and discuss your specific situations and how you can work together to reduce your downtime. This is especially important if you work outside of your home area. You want to sleep easy at night knowing that if you need help in an unfamiliar area, it’s only a phone call away.

It’s an easy formula, you want to make sure that your hard earned money is well spent and the dealer wants to make sure they are the first call whenever you need anything. On your end, it’s making sure that your cost per ton is as low as possible and your cost of ownership is rock bottom. Test your dealer – make sure he has all the right answers to win your business for years to come. Chances are, you’ll both learn something about each other’s business. And you might get lunch and a hat out of the deal to boot!

Brian Hall is the territory manager of Mid South Region at VT LeeBoy, Inc. You can contact him at
Article sponsored by LeeBoy and Rosco.