Rural Lifestyle Dealer offers a comprehensive analysis of the 2017 Equipment Dealers Assn.’s 2017 Dealer-Manufacturer Relations Survey in the summer issue. Here's an excerpt featuring comments from Toro, which earned a Gold award. Toro's highest score among the 12 criteria as ranked by dealers was in the area of parts availability. Toro's score of 6.23 was higher than the average mean score of all OPE manufacturers of 5.80.

Scott Wozniak, director of RLC dealer sales for Toro, comments on the company’s rankings:

On proud criteria: We are very proud of Toro’s standings in many of the rankings, but specifically those that relate to how well a manufacturer supports its dealer base after the sale. Many brands can make a sale, but when customers have issues, they rely on the dealer to help them. Dealer partners are the first stop for customers who have challenges with their equipment, and it’s the duty of any manufacturer worth its salt to stand by its dealers if and when there are equipment issues. Toro continues to stand behind its dealers to make sure they have all the resources, tools and support they need to best support their customers. For this reason, ranking categories such as “Parts Availability,” “Manufacturer Response to Dealer Needs” and “Overall Satisfaction” are very important to all of us here at Toro.

On short-term focused improvement area: Continuous improvement and innovation are engrained in Toro’s DNA, and there are certainly several areas of focus for Toro in the short term. From a product standpoint, we’re continuing to focus on product innovation and quality — as we always have — to deliver the best portfolio of products for our dealers. In terms of after-market support, we continue to focus on building strong relationships with our customers and simply being easy to do business with as an organization. These focus areas have been organizational goals for quite some time, but we are continually striving to be a better partner and deliver more to our dealers.

On recent changes: Most of the strategic changes we have made to our dealer channel have been a direct result of dealer feedback. For instance, we expanded the number of products that are shipped in returnable crates. We also recently streamlined some key promotional processes, making it easy for dealers to promote and sell Toro products by eliminating the need to enter a separate promotional code when products are registered. This simple change eliminated a frustrating step for the dealer and made it easier for them to do what they do best — sell. Many times, it’s small revisions that can have a big impact when it comes to working with our channel partners, and these changes are all because we do our best to listen to our dealers.

On current trends: One thing we’re really proud of at Toro is being on the forefront of the industry while balancing technological advancements with practicality. Simply put, we want to make cutting-edge products that are useful and practical for Toro users — pairing smart features with proven dependability. Specifically, Toro is watching and working on some of the same trends the industry is following — including everything from advancements in battery-powered products to contractor productivity and versatility on the job site.

On strategy when missing the mark: Most every major business decision made at Toro is done with a healthy dose of input from our channel partners and end users. We are also very lucky to have one of the best research and development teams in the industry, staffed by exceptional engineering minds. By coupling a healthy listening strategy with solid recommendations from our R&D team, we like to think we have minimized any strategic product errors over the years. With input from those who work with our machines on a daily basis out in the field, we are able to keep our fingers on the pulse of everything that’s happening in the industry and drive our product development efforts to best suit the needs of the end user.  

On plans for dealer network: We’re fortunate to have the largest dealer network for full-line OPE manufacturers and many of our dealers have represented Toro for decades. Even though we know these dealers well, we’re continually working to build our relationships with them so we both can evolve to meet the needs of our customers. That isn’t just a plan; it’s who we are as a company. Specifically, we have one overarching goal of enhancing our dealer network, which can be achieved through two separate initiatives. One is to enhance the overall health, performance and perception of our existing dealers and the other is to develop new dealers in markets that are currently underserved. By continually helping to elevate our products, services and — perhaps most importantly — the dealers who represent Toro, we can make sure everyone has access to top-quality Toro equipment through a vast network of trusted dealers.