Recent significant changes: At STIHL, it’s not about what we’ve changed. It’s about what we continue to do. We continue to make servicing dealers our primary priority. We continue to drive business to their stores. We continue to create innovative, high-quality products. And we continue to provide them with resources to effectively market those products.
From the very beginning, the STIHL brand has been about technical innovation and customer service. It was founder Andreas Stihl himself who decided that our products should be sold through servicing dealers, and while other brands chose to pursue alternative distribution strategies and sales channels, we have stayed true to his vision. STIHL dealers provide the advice, knowledge and service before and after the sale that we believe can only be delivered at the dealership. Servicing dealers assist in providing advice to customers before the sale to ensure they get the appropriate product for their needs —the right product for the right purpose, offering the proper protective apparel and accessories, and even demonstrating the product for proper customer use. And should the need arise, the spare parts and technical know-how after the sale to maintain and support the product.
We're one of very few manufacturers who have continued to maintain our strategy to sell our products through servicing dealers. And it is a strategy that has been successful for us, and for the network of STIHL retailers. In fact, the dealer retail channel is winning hand-held gasoline outdoor power equipment retail market share from the big box stores. And we are doing it through a network of more than 9,000 servicing dealers, a brick-and-mortar infrastructure that surpasses even mass merchandising outlets.
At the same time, we recognize there is a new generation of customers on the horizon, and there is increasing competition for customer share of mind from the competition, including online retailers. Not only do we support sales to dealers through traditional and digital marketing efforts, but we also arm them with the tools they need to provide our customers with a world class experience. Programs like the STIHL Edge in-store digital support, the Marketing Advantage Program, STIHL University and STIHL iCademy have helped our dealers take their sales potential to the next level. (See program overviews below). All of the programs we put together and the enhancements we make — it’s all for our dealers.
STIHL distribution is exclusive to five independent U.S. distributors and six STIHL-owned company branches, who sell STIHL products to a nationwide network of servicing retail dealers. With 11 branches and distributors across the country, our dealers receive boots-on-the-ground support and unparalleled product and technical support. As a dealer-oriented brand, it’s important to STIHL that our dealers receive personal attention at a local level. Our branches and distributors are able to provide quick, next-day service to a vast majority of our dealers, a rarity in our industry.
At STIHL, we aim to equip our dealers with up-to-date programs so they can stay informed and trained. We provide dealers with a wide variety of resources to support their businesses and to better serve their customers, such as:
STIHL Marketing Advantage Program (MAP)
- Available exclusively to STIHL dealers, MAP is a complete, turn-key program that combines dealer, distributor and STIHL marketing funds to create high visibility advertising in a wide variety of media platforms nationwide. Participating STIHL dealers are seeing the benefits of increased store traffic, website visits and sales. In addition, STIHL continues to invest in new MAP campaigns and initiatives.
- STIHL Edge, a state of the art digital merchandising system designed to educate customers and dealer associates at the point of sale, combines engaging in-store advertising with immersive sales content, enabling sales staff to deliver a knowledgeable, professional sales pitch regardless of experience or product familiarity.
- “STIHL U” is a half-day training class designed for dealer sales staff, providing the latest information and updates on new products and guidance to assist a customer in selecting the appropriate STIHL products, accessories and protective equipment. STIHL U is not your typical training seminar. It is hands-on and interactive. Last year alone, we had nearly 6,000 dealer personnel participate.
- STIHL iCademy® personal development and training program is a free distance-based resource for all registered dealership owners and their employees. With more than 200 training modules and videos offered, STIHL dealer employees can educate themselves on products, merchandising, customer service, troubleshooting and repairs, selling skills, social media, STIHL history and current topics as they relate to OPE (outdoor power equipment), such as ethanol.
STIHL MasterWrench Service
- STIHL MasterWrench Service is a multi-level technician education and certification program. In addition to Bronze, Silver and Gold training courses, STIHL now offers a Platinum level course. The new Platinum level program is designed to give the highest-level technicians an opportunity to further enhance their skills through advanced diagnostic and repair training as well as more in-depth product knowledge.