In 2015, the Equipment Dealers Assn.'s Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) Council created an OPE Priority Issues paper to outline the key areas of focus for the council and EDA. The core issues of fair warranty treatment, mass merchant sales & marketing and Internet sales remain valid topics for discussion with manufacturers and are of great importance to dealers. At its February 2017 meeting, the OPE Council discussed the need to expand on the internet sales issue by focusing on direct sales by manufacturers and how this is addressed in the manufacturers’ internet policy.

On the marketing front, a few years ago, the OPE Council addressed a problematic advertising issue with the Yellow Pages. OPE dealers needed to advertise under multiple headings to make sure they were covered in the Yellow Pages. For the most part, that advertising method is now obsolete and the issue pales in comparison to the vast opportunities available today primarily with digital advertising and marketing.

Digital marketing is a challenge for many dealerships. Understanding, implementing and executing an effective digital marketing plan is often being overlooked. OPE dealers, in dealing with a consumer and commercial customer base should consider how to develop an effective digital marketing strategy to assist customers in maneuvering through the on-line sales journey, similar to the auto purchase experience. The EDA OPE Council recognizes the need to address the underutilization of digital marketing, and as a result, EDA is developing a digital marketing webinar series specifically for OPE dealers.

The OPE Council also recognizes the importance of technological advances in the industry. Dealers must consider the impact of the various technologies and future impact on their business. A primary issue is the advancement of battery technology, not only for hand-held but all outdoor power equipment. This technology potentially presents a monumental change to the industry. Dealers need to consider this impact on their businesses and who they are going to align with in the future.

The future of OPE dealership parts business was also addressed in the OPE Council’s February meeting, specifically the impact 3-D printing may have on the parts business. Will consumers be in a position to create their own parts? Will dealers be able to “print” their own parts, specifically obsolete items? Will the OEMs share the specifications to do so?

To be at the forefront of these important priorities, both the OPE Council and EDA Board recognize the importance of a strong and expanded dealer voice through membership in the national association and that EDA must maintain focus on dealer engagement in the OPE sector.

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