Do-Cut Sales & Service’s marketing strategies have evolved from printing and mailing 50,000 100-page catalogs to comprehensive online marketing strategies, including a new website, search engine optimization, news releases and more. Lisa Miller, daughter of the original owners of this Ohio-based family dealership, says the dealership’s revenues have increased 20% as a result of their new efforts.
“It’s been tremendous. We’ve been able to hire two full-time people. We are on the outskirts of Youngstown, in the Rust Belt, where all the steel mills used to be. This area was hit hard in the late 1980s. We are proud of the fact that we have two successful stores, 30 employees and are family owned and operated,” says Miller. The dealership has stores in Warren and Boardman, Ohio, and carries Toro, Stihl, Honda, Husqvarna, Little Wonder, Mantis and other lines. About 75% of the dealership’s revenue comes from residential customers and the remainder from commercial customers.
Marketing by Mail
Miller says that in the 1990s they were looking for ways to expand beyond their local customer base and decided to develop a comprehensive mail-order catalog. “We felt we could service customers in very rural areas that didn’t have dealers near them,” she says. So, they spent many hours photographing equipment and parts and writing descriptions to develop a catalog that totaled more than 100 pages in its last edition. They mailed to customers within the region and to national landscaper mailing lists they had purchased. At the height of the program, the dealership mailed more than 50,000 copies.
“We set up an 800 number and when the phone rang after that first catalog, we looked at each other and said, ‘What did we do?’” Miller says. The catalog, which was mailed twice a year, helped increase revenue, but it was also a huge undertaking. In addition to the ongoing effort of updating the information, the team spent many hours figuring out how to charge accurately for shipping everything from filters and mower blades to power tools and zero-turn mowers.
Here's a view from Do-Cut's Sales and Services homepage.
Building a Website
To save production costs and staff time, the dealership transitioned the catalog into its first website in the early 2000s. The company recently launched a new site working with The InterCon Group of Cleveland, Ohio. The site is linked to two domain names — www.PowerEquipmentWarehouse.com, the name of the catalog, and www.Docut.com.
The site is described as “responsive” in that it displays properly across all devices. It was also built with search engine optimization tools. Miller worked with InterCon to develop the right keywords and phrases to ensure the site came up early in search results, increasing the chance that online shoppers would click through to the site. They also included many more models of equipment on the new site, with matching keywords, to ensure the customer could find online exactly the mower they were looking for based on variables like brand, deck size and options.
Miller says the relationship they’ve developed over the years with InterCon helped make the web design process go smoothly. “We’ve worked with InterCon for about 9 years. They do everything they can to learn about our business,” Miller says.
Do-Cut has now added pay-per-click advertising through Google to drive more visitors to the site. They had tried the strategy with their old site, but felt it was unsuccessful because the site didn’t display well across devices and they felt visitors couldn’t find the equipment they were looking for. Miller is hoping for better results with the new site.
Lisa Miller is an owner of Do-Cut Sales & Service.
Leveraging Media Relations
Miller has also broadened the dealership’s online presence through a media relations program. For about 4 years, they’ve been working with InterCon to develop and distribute news releases based on new products or to offer seasonal advice. For instance, a news release from this fall addressed this topic, “Now Is the Time to Check the Health of Your Fall Outdoor Power Equipment.”
The goal is to find new ways to promote the dealership online. “It can be a challenge to come up with fresh topics and fresh info for the customer. We sell ‘work’ and things don’t change that much. A lawn mower is a lawn mower,” says Miller.
Miller does most of the writing and works with InterCon to weave keywords into the copy.
Do-Cut Sales & Service has this location in Boardman, Ohio, and another in Warren, Ohio.
Do-Cut works with InterCon on a continual basis, not just from project to project, and they receive monthly reports. “They accumulate the results and provide a report of how customers searched; what terms they’re using to find our site; and if they complete the sale. For me to try to monitor all that and run a large dealership would be impossible,” Miller says.
Improving the Industry
Miller is also part of an industry initiative, the Professional Power Equipment Congress, which is an online forum for outdoor power equipment dealers. Miller says the forum was very active in the beginning, but has slowed recently. She says dealers can still learn from previous forum discussions as well as current ones.
“We’re a very progressive dealership. Whatever we can do to help dealers in the industry, we do,” she says.
Why Rural Lifestyle Dealers Need to Do More Online Marketing
About 80% of people are searching online first before making a transaction, according to experts at Signpost, a marketing software company.