By Mike Davey
I must admit that this is a bittersweet time of year for me.
By Mike Davey
I must admit that this is a bittersweet time of year for me. It’s bitter because the rental trade show season is finally over, and I won’t be flying across the country on a regular basis to meet with all of you. On the other hand, it’s sweet, because the rental trade show season is finally over, and I can become reacquainted with what my children look like.
All kidding aside, the last few months have been an intense and extremely enriching experience for me. I’ve had a chance to meet and talk with many of you in British Columbia, in Florida, in Saskatoon, and in Ontario. To our readers in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, I’m sorry I didn’t get to come to your shows. I understand that I missed some really great stuff, and I look forward to heading out your way in 2011.
As the editor of your magazine, I think it’s important for me to meet as many of you as possible, and visit as many trade shows and exhibitions as possible. But I think it’s important for you to do so as well.
Trade shows are great places to see new equipment, but there’s more. Much more. For some of the smaller independent rental stores, the local trade show is the best – and sometimes only – place to get up-to-date equipment knowledge, as well as make and renew key supplier contacts. You can also get some fantastic deals as well.
Regular visits from suppliers and manufacturers’ reps can help, but it is depressingly common how often a small independent is overlooked. This may be understandable, as sales reps are under as much travel budget constraint as anybody. Focusing on big accounts from national chains looks like a smart move, but is it really the best way for a rep to go?
According to one rep I spoke with in Saskatoon, it’s not. He pointed out that, although he may be able to sell a larger number of pieces to a big chain or franchise operation, the deal may come at the cost of giving in to demands for deep discounts. In other words, it’s penny wise and pound foolish.
He prefers to target the independents, and over the years he’s built up a large and loyal customer base. We can only hope that other sales reps look to his example.
Part of the reason I’m bringing this up is that I believe it contains an important lesson for anyone involved in this business. A large contractor customer may place big orders, but at the same time try to finagle special deals and take up a lot of your time and energy.
In the same amount of time, you may be able to give three smaller customers such excellent customer service that they tell everyone they know how great your store is, and how you and your staff go above and beyond in making sure that customers get what they need. Word of mouth advertising is worth far more than what you pay for it.
That’s not to say, of course, that you can simply ignore that big contractor. However, there’s also no reason at all not to adopt multiple sales strategies. It’s been proven time and again that a very effective way to find out what works best is to try everything that you can think of. The strategies that are most successful will survive, while the least successful fall by the wayside.