Pictured Above: Briggs & Stratton dealers learn about the company’s products for 2015 and its strategy to focus on the commercial mowing lineup.

During its recent “Get Ready for Spring” dealer meetings, Briggs & Stratton introduced new products to its Ferris, Simplicity, Snapper and Snapper Pro lines. Briggs hosted 15-20 of these meetings regionally across the U.S.

Harold Redman, division president, says they are on track with the transition plan after closing the manufacturing plant in Georgia and moving production to Milwaukee and Munnsville, N.Y. Redman added that it remains to be seen if the weather will return to normal and if the economy will improve enough in 2015 to support another good sales year.

“Last year, 2014, basically the walk behind lawnmower business was down 10% and it’s interesting that 92% of that business now is non-dealer business,” Redman says. “Our direction going forward is we’re going to try and maintain the high-end walk line, but we decided this year we’re going to stop trying to provide a $299 walk-behind mower that just makes no money for anybody. So it was a little bit of a change from last year.”

Redman stressed that the focus going forward is more on commercial mowers because that is where the money is to be made for dealers. “We have some decisions to make on how we take the brands to market, but our Ferris brand has certainly been growing by leaps and bounds,” he says. “Focus on tractors and residential zero-turns and commercial zero-turns and that’s where we’re going to spend our time.”

Selling the Features

Throughout the full-day meeting, the “Law of Price” was repeatedly stressed when going over the new introductions — if you can’t explain in words why your product is worth your asking price, then it isn’t. Pat Kohanowski, district sales manager, Southeast Wisconsin/Northern Illinois, encourages dealers to learn and understand the dollar difference between their products and the competition’s. To do this, he says you need to determine the premium features, convert those features to benefits and then convert the benefits to a dollar amount. If you are able to do this, then you are able to follow the Law of Price.

Updating Ad Approach

In addition to the new product introductions, the meeting focused on sales and marketing strategies for 2015. On the marketing side, Facebook, SEO strategies and Web advertising were stressed. As dealers prepare for the spring selling season, they should review their website, says Troy Blewett, director of dealer channel marketing. For instance, do you have all your relevant information included and easy to find? Are all your current specials up on your website? Does your website successfully tell the story of your dealership? “If you don’t have a website today, it’s going to be very difficult to have one tomorrow and make sure it’s updated,” says Dave Flowers.

Blewett stressed the benefit of using Google Adwords, which is search engine advertising. With Google Adwords, campaigns are created specific to your location and then are reviewed and optimized daily. Multiple ads achieve the best results, Blewett says. “Google Adwords get your dealership to the top of a Google search and 92% of people never go past the first page of search results,” he says. “Google is the most cost effective marketing option, you can use co-op funds and you’ll get a report of the results of the Google ads.”

Briggs & Stratton is committed to working with dealers to create an effective marketing strategy. “It’s our responsibility as a manufacturer to come up with a marketing strategy to get the foot traffic into yours stores,” Redman says. “Millennials don’t know to look for a dealer until their equipment breaks.”

Redman wrapped up his comments by stressing the importance of Briggs & Stratton’s relationship with its dealer network. “It’s important to us to listen to the voice of the dealer,” he says. “We meet with the dealer council and share our strategy. We take away a list of things to work on and we keep them up to date on the progress.”