By Brian Hall
Let’s take a break from the strange goings on in the country, shall we? Here we are in August and we are putting down asphalt as fast as the plants can fill the trucks. Life is good, but something doesn’t seem right. Ah, that’s it. Time for the old 250 hour service on the machine. Now, where did I put that manual….. To borrow a phrase from a movie, “Who ya gonna call?”
You have a few choices. Number 1 is your buddy across town who runs the fix-it shop you depend on to keep your pickup truck in top condition. He’s pretty good with clunkers, but do you trust him with a machine that has an engine mandated by the U.S. Government? Number 2 is the manufacturer of the machine. A pretty good source for information and general goodwill, but they aren’t coming out on a service call. Number 3 is your local authorized dealer. Now you’re talking. He’s the one who sold you the machine and has all the tools (literally and figuratively) to get you going.
Let’s look at some advantages of local support:
They know the local market. When you rely on the local dealer, they can tailor your service to the trends and nuances of the area in which you are working. They know to check for things that even the factory cannot predict. For example, an area whose asphalt mix is produced with limestone aggregate produces less challenges than an area whose mix is produced with granite aggregate. Other factors such as altitude and air quality also play a part.
The local dealer is specially trained. These days, pavers have only one thing in common; asphalt goes in one end and road comes out the other. Sure the basics are the same, but how we get from point A to point B is radically different. Torque specs, tolerances and pressures are quite different and they must be meticulously maintained. The dealer attends training on a regular basis and in fact, many dealerships have their own training department to insure that not only their service technicians are up to date, but their parts personnel and the sales force as well. Nothing is more frustrating than sending your paver in for service, only to get it back and find that the mechanic overlooked a key point that has you down for another day.
The dealer has access to a wealth of information. When you are the authorized dealer, it opens your company up to a wealth of resources. Given the complexity of Tier 4 as well as the electronics that are prevalent on today’s machines, new challenges present themselves each day. The local dealer is not, by any means on an island. They have not only the factory’s resources at their fingertips, but a network of other dealers across the country that they can lean on. In the rare event that they get stumped on an issue, they have a “think tank” of technicians they can lean on that have been challenged with the same issue which enables you to get back in the mix.
I challenge you this month to reach out to each of your local dealers for the machines you use regularly. Give them a call or, better yet, drop by their shop. Ask questions, see what they have to offer and ask to meet the key personnel, including the owner. When you share your successes and difficulties with these folks, it forms an intimate bond that only serves to increase your bottom line as they can react to your issues quickly. Even in this age of texting, emails and internet, it’s still a relationship business. The next time your sales rep asks you to lunch, sit down with him and ask him the tough questions of how they can help you. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at their response.
Let’s take it a step further. If you feel inclined, share your dealer stories with me by e-mail. I’m sure we can all learn something new.
Brian Hall, LeeBoy Territory Manager. He can be reached via email at email@example.com