Zimmer Tractor’s acquisition of a lawn and garden dealership in 2012 resulted in a slight identity issue. The dealership had locations in Aurora and Brookville, Ind., and Monroe, Ohio, before adding the Greendale, Ind., store. Customers were calling the tractor locations for equipment and parts sold at the lawn and garden location.
Last year, the dealership renamed the newest store Zimmer Power Equipment and created a specific website for it. Customers can also access the power equipment website from the tractor site.
A new way to show off the lawn and garden location started with an unsolicited email from a marketing vendor, Instant360.
Instant360 helps businesses enhance their online presences with a virtual tour powered by Google’s Street View technology. The company asked Daniel Zimmer, general manager, if he would be interested in offering a virtual tour of the dealership.
“Lawn and garden dealerships are always complaining about box stores, but I asked my wife where she would go to buy a mower if we didn’t own a dealership. She said she would be intimidated to go into a lawn and garden store.
“We have a 5,000 square-foot showroom with tons of product and I wanted to find a good way for customers to get acquainted with us. So much research is being done online and we wanted to make these customers feel welcome and show off the products we had in stock,” says Zimmer.
Showing Off the Store
Zimmer says the process was simple and mainly involved readying the showroom and suggesting 4 or 5 areas to highlight. They chose not to have employees or customers in the photos and also decided to stay within the showroom and not show off other areas of the dealership.
Instant360 sent a photographer, who shot images for about 10 minutes or so. Within a few days, the company posted the images on Google and provided other functionality, including enhanced search results and integration with Street View and Google Maps. They also provided a link for Zimmer to embed on the dealership’s site. This particular package was a one-time fee of $399.
Daniel Zimmer is general manager of Zimmer Power Equipment. Photo Courtesy of Zimmer Power Equipment
“I can’t say I have any first-hand stories from customers who have seen it, but I know people are seeing it. We’ve been in this building for a year and I wanted to showcase it in an economical way. We keep getting preached to about how important it is to have a good online presence. Since this was a one-time fee, I didn’t see a downside to it,” says Zimmer.
Seeking Customer Testimonials
Zimmer turned to another marketing vendor, BirdEye, to help strengthen other aspects of the dealership’s online reputations of its power equipment and tractor locations, specifically online reviews.
BirdEye can integrate with a dealership’s existing customer relationship management system to access customer data. New customers can be checked in on a desktop or mobile device (a salesperson enters their mobile number, for instance) and BirdEye then sends a review request.
The dealership is pursuing reviews mainly through requests from the sales team. “Salesmen spend hours with the customer and they build a rapport. We’re hoping they have some obligation to help us out with a review,” says Zimmer. He’s working with the sales team to get them more comfortable in requesting reviews. The software does have an alert functionality if a negative review is posted, so Zimmer can address the situation.
“We wanted to make customers feel welcome...”
— Daniel Zimmer of Zimmer Power Equipment
He chose to ask one yes-or-no question: “Were you satisfied?” Then, the person can leave a rating, from 1-5 stars. The dealership gets a good number of reviews on Facebook, so they chose to display the reviews on Google and then have them shared on their Facebook page.
Zimmer says it may take awhile to build up reviews and get the impact they are looking for, but they plan to continue working to build up their reputation online. They’ve signed a year-long contract for their 4 locations.
“Tractor dealers are always a good 10 years behind car dealers and car dealers have been doing this kind of marketing for years. We’re trying to start this strategy early and beat the rush. When a customer is going to spend $30,000 on a tractor, we want to make sure they feel like they are making the right choice when choosing a dealership,” Zimmer says.