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Lessons from AED’s Small Dealers

A common mistake made by new executives is to underestimate the value of smaller dealerships. 
Sure, size matters. Success is often measured in units sold and annual revenue. But when the rubber meets the road, dealers of all sizes are primarily concerned with the satisfaction of their customers. Small dealers thrive on offering their customers diverse solutions with a personal touch that is often unrivaled by the bigs. 

AED has recently begun developing a Small Dealers Committee and will hold their second annual Small Dealer Conference in  November. AED’s small dealers have similar challenges to their larger counterparts, but they often do so without the resources or the specialist to get the job done. As a result, it is very common for small dealer executives to wear many hats throughout any given day. In recognition of those unique challenges, AED started tailoring content for these small dealers and presenting them with a forum for networking and collective action. 

In collaborating with their smaller dealers, AED has observed many valuable traits that can be applied to larger dealerships. Here are a few:

Stay Nimble

Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, gave a talk at a recent Forum on Leadership. Commenting on the success of his company and his own leadership strategy, Bezos said, “It is great to have the scale of Amazon. We have financial resources, we have lots of brilliant people, we can accomplish great things, we have global scope, but the down side of that is you can lose your nimbleness, you can lose your entrepreneurial spirit and the heart that small companies often have. 

“A big boxer can take a punch to the head, but you want to be able to dodge those punches, so you have to stay nimble, “ he said. 

Increase Access to You

Customers instinctually know when a company is trying to brush them off. It’s the difference between not being able to find anyone to help you in a big box store versus an owner greeting you at the door of their mom-and-pop store. Of course, the inherent truth is that executives of bigger dealerships do not have the time to speak with many, if any, of their customers. Running a company with hundreds of employees and appeasing the customer’s appetite for facetime can often be a balancing act. Not only do customers want to interact with you; they want to know that you want to interact with them. Have real people answer every call to every department of a dealership. Break the habit of using voicemail during business hours and be more accessible than the competition. 

Being approachable to a customer will create more personal interactions. We have all had experiences dealing with customer service of big companies and being bounced around from one department to another. Nothing will anger your customers more than having to explain their problem over and over. Instead, when a customer contacts your dealership with a question or problem, do like the small dealers and get them one point of contact that will walk them through to a solution. 

Become Specialized

Small dealers do not have the luxury of keeping a large stable of equipment options, but they know that quantity does not always mean quality. Allocating limited resources when choosing inventory requires judiciousness and a close eye to what the customers are buying. Offering fewer options means less when a dealer offers the right equipment. Customers will then come to you knowing that they will find the right equipment for the job. 

Maximizing Resources

In order to make the impact on the construction equipment industry that small dealers have, they must maximize the resources available to them. One such resource, Associated Equipment Distributors has been helping small dealers organize and weather market trends. Some small dealers have been taking advantage of AED’s services for over 75 years. AED’s educational seminars, webinars, and certified manager/technician programs help small dealers all over Canada and the United States make a larger impact on the industry. 

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