Grasshopper earned the Dealer’s Choice Award for outdoor power equipment manufacturers in the 2016 Equipment Dealers Assn.’s annual Dealer-Manufacturer Relations Survey Report — the second year in a row the company achieved that recognition.
Stan Guyer, Grasshopper’s president, shares what the company is doing to help its relationship with its dealers:
On product quality: Since the first Grasshopper mower rolled off the line in the mid-1960s, we have focused on product quality. Back then, there were no off-the-shelf components for zero-turn mowers. So, we created a culture of testing, re-testing and testing again, and this “test and prove” legacy continues today. We rigorously test every part we manufacture, and we employ the same testing standards for every vendor component we put into our mowers. Our employees have adopted this mentality, and we enable them to be responsible for their own quality control. And, at the end of the line, we test drive every machine to ensure final product quality.
On parts availability: A quality product that lasts for years, generations even, requires that quality parts be available to keep them in good operation over the years. From the beginning, we have designed a commonality of parts across our product line where similar parts are used across different models. The Grasshopper owner can rest assured that we will be able to supply the original part or an improved part, for his or her mower. We also work diligently to reduce shipping times from the factory to the dealer.
On parts quality: Over the past few years, we have integrated state-of-the-art testing and diagnostic equipment that has reduced the rejection rate of parts and components to near zero. Through a sophisticated scanning process, variances outside of pre-set tolerances can be identified and adjusted at any stage of the manufacturing process. This improves consistency and reduces rejection and reworking. We also continually refine parts to reduce wear and failure, improving designs to be more durable and longer lasting.
On product technical support: We believe knowledge-based business relationships are critical to sales success. Grasshopper offers numerous opportunities for our dealers to continue their education in service and support through a variety of factory service schools and on-site preventative maintenance seminars for dealers and customers. These events are led by experienced service and technical support personnel. Dealers are also connected to a network of knowledgeable factory representatives in the field as well as product support specialists at the factory.
Many Grasshopper dealers say they love selling Grasshopper products because when the mower leaves their shop, they know that, for the most part, they aren’t going to hear about that machine for a long time. And, in the few instances when they do, they know they have back-up resources available at the factory.
On responsiveness to the dealer: Our philosophy is, “If you take care of the customer, everything else takes care of itself.” We make every effort to decentralize the decision-making process so that the independent dealer, who is closest to the customer, is doing what is best for the customer. We also keep open lines of communication to the factory. Our dealers have direct access to the factory to share what’s working for them, but also what’s not working for them. We take every call seriously, and we listen to the feedback — both positive and negative — to improve product quality, technical support and customer service.
On recent significant changes: The independent dealer network is the lifeblood of our company, and we are committed to its success. That’s why we have made the decision to stay out of Big Box stores. Selling through those retailers would require us to reduce product quality and undercut our independent dealers in the process. We believe in our dealers’ abilities to sell a value product and their abilities to service that product after the sale.
Initiatives for the coming year: We will continue to implement new technologies and solutions to lower input and operating costs and improve efficiencies in our manufacturing processes that will have a positive impact on product quality. We will also continue to expand our proprietary electronic parts ordering system to improve accuracy and reduce ordering and shipping times.