Construction-equipment distributors and dealers are stressed. To their credit, they're recognizing that they cannot build their future on new-equipment sales alone. Business advisors are telling distributors to look more seriously at the product-support side of the equation, to capture the business that exists long after the new machine leaves the lot.
Associated Equipment Distributors has published a tool to aid their members in this strategy, and it includes research showing how end-users view product-support issues. Construction Equipment aided AED in this research effort.
AED asked end-users to compare their use of manufacturers' dealers to independent mechanics for service work. More than one in four reported that they've turned to independents for more of their service work compared to five years ago. Then, and this had to be a tough question to ask, AED wanted to know what the No. 1 reason was for the switch. You can see the results in the accompanying chart.
Of course, AED members will apply this information to their product-support business, but their customers—the equipment users—should take this opportunity to open up some discussions with their current distributors. Smart dealers already listen to customers, but this research reinforces the importance of hearing what equipment users want and expect in the product-support area.
Since price was far and away the No. 1 reason for change, equipment users shouldn't hesitate to question dealers. Keep in mind, though, that price is never an easy comparison. Manufacturers' dealers have direct links to the original-equipment manufacturer, and they sell original parts. Those are solid benefits. In most cases, price should not be the sole reason for switching suppliers.
Equipment managers, whose primary goals are machine uptime and productivity, should grill dealers on the other three service areas: response time, convenience and quality. If your dealers aren't performing here, you should move your product-support business to a vendor who understands how important it is to repair machines quickly in a manner that's convenient to you.
Nearly half of the equipment managers surveyed by AED have moved their business, and that message will be moving through dealer ranks. It's a good time to fine-tune your dealer relationships on the product-support side.