Knowing your customers allows you to become more than salespeople and develop into a solution provider for them. You need to know their needs, help them find the equipment to satisfy those needs and follow up with service and parts to keep them working on and enjoying their properties day in and day out. By doing that, you can earn loyal customers.
We took a look back over the “What Rural Lifestylers Want from You” stories since the magazine was founded and caught up with Dan and Robin Olson, who were featured in the fall 2008 issue of Rural Lifestyle Dealer.
The Olsons own 80 acres in Jackson, Wis., where they care for 2 horses and 7 cats. Maintaining the land and caring for the horses is a daily endeavor and Dan says they use at least one piece of equipment every day.
The couple owns the same New Holland 30 horsepower tractor, John Deere garden tractor, Pequea manure spreader, King Kutter rotary cutter and rear scraper scoop, Ford brush cutter, Troy-Built wood chipper and FIMCO boom sprayer as they did in 2008, but have since added a Bobcat 3400 utility vehicle (replacing their Land Pride utility vehicle) and a Toro TimeCutter MX5050 zero-turn mower (replacing a Simplicity zero-turn mower).
They have been going to the same dealer since 2008, St. Lawrence Equipment in Hartford, Wis., and Dan says the dealer and the people who service his equipment mean more to him than the brand.
“I don’t think it makes a bit of difference what equipment they sell. It could be New Holland, John Deere or Case IH, but there have been a half dozen times where they have gone out of their way to help me out,” he says. “The dealer is more important than the product. They know us by name and I know they’ll take good care of us.”
When Rural Lifestyle Dealer visited the Olsons in 2008, they had just purchased a Land Pride Treker utility vehicle, almost on a whim.
“It was cute,” Robin says. “It was set up exactly how we wanted. I’m an impulse buyer — I want to buy when I want to buy.”
They replaced the Land Pride after 3 years because it didn’t run well in the cold, snowy Wisconsin winters.
Dan says he began doing a little more research before deciding on the brand and model of their next utility vehicle. He chose a gas-powered Bobcat utility vehicle, but this, too, came with issues.
Going out of your way to help a customer with a faulty piece of equipment will earn you their trust and loyalty.
Get to know your customer and their needs so you can serve as a partner in finding them the right equipment for their property and lifestyle.
Rural lifestylers need flexible equipment that can function in many different situations. Sell your customers on the varied uses of a piece of equipment to secure the deal.
“The engine kept pulling the gas into the oil and all Bobcat could tell us was that we must not be running it hard enough. At one point, an engineer told us we should try using rubber bands and clothes pins to fix it,” he recalls.
St. Lawrence, the dealership where the Olsons bought the Bobcat, took the UTV back and recommended the diesel Bobcat 3400 utility vehicle they own today.
“We use it every single day,” Robin says of the new utility vehicle. “We use it for everything from moving hay for the horses, to spreading manure, to carrying the power washer around the property and removing yard debris. We even use it to haul in the mail from the street.”
The features they liked most when considering the Bobcat were the reasonable price, hydraulic dump box, high intensity lights, the roof and the windshield, though Dan says he wishes he’d gone for the enclosed cab.
After this experience, Dan says they are more informed shoppers. “We ask a lot more questions now, rather than just walking into the dealership and saying, ‘We’ll take this and that.’ We’ve bought equipment that really didn’t suit our needs the way we hoped it would and were spending more money on commercial-grade equipment that we didn’t need,” he says. “We don’t know very much about what makes a good engine or how much power we need, but we’ve been very lucky with our dealership. They’ve gone above and beyond to help us out with issues that weren’t their fault. If we ever buy more equipment, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back there first.”
Robin agrees and says, “We trust them. We know they won’t steer us wrong or try to sell us something just to get it off their lot. They know us and they know what we need.”