Interview with Engine Masters Outdoor Power Equipment on How to Leverage Information to Grow a Business
Staying informed is crucial for any business, particularly if that business intends to grow at a rapid rate. Unfortunately, not every business is good at retrieving or managing important information, which often results in costly mistakes and customer dissatisfaction.
That’s why Phillip Hight, the owner of Engine Masters Outdoor Power Equipment, prioritizes good information above everything else. Because of this, his business was able to expand beyond its first store just a few years after its inception – and will continue to grow at this pace in the foreseeable future.
Hight’s secret is to use information to make calculated business decisions, while delivering superb customer service at all times. He’s shared the specifics of his methods in our recent interview with him. Check out what he had to say.
How did you get involved in this business?
Phillip: “I started out in law enforcement, then transitioned into the landscape industry, and from there, I went into the power equipment industry.
I founded the dealership in 2013 with the goal of delivering top-notch customer service – the kind of customer service you don’t see very often today. When I was growing up, you would go to a local hardware store, and the people there would take time with you to go over the equipment. After you’ve selected the equipment, they would make sure that you got it home safely and you’re happy with everything. We’re missing that in today’s market.
Once we kicked things off in 2013 with our first store, we quickly started seeing impressive growth results, and that’s because of our outstanding customer service. In April of 2016, we acquired a large facility in Wake Forest, North Carolina, that is now supporting our Internet division at myenginemasters.com, which went live in June of 2016.
We’re growing rapidly. In fact, we’re already 120% above last year, and we’re forecasting 300% growth at the end of the year. We can probably grow faster, but I want to make sure that we are strong. Our logistics is the key to that – you want to make sure that your people are trained, the software you use to communicate with your customers is the best there is and you take care of your customers. That’s the winning combination.”
What are some of the challenges of running a website and keeping it up to date?
Phillip: “Managing your e-commerce is completely different from managing your store. Instead of having 30 to 40 people walking in the door, you have hundreds of thousands of people looking at you. So, you better make sure that logistically you have everything in order, especially when it comes to your inventory – you need to know exactly what you have in stock and you need to have enough for all your potential customers.”
Does Ideal help you with inventory management?
Phillip: “Absolutely! We wouldn’t be on top of our inventory if it wasn’t for Ideal. Ideal tells us when we’re out of stock and what our stock levels are. This allows me to know when to get more products and forecast our stock levels based on historical data with just a push of a button.”
What is the biggest challenge when it comes to managing multiple locations?
Phillip: “Communication. You need to be able to stay in touch with the other location, so that we can all exchange accurate information and deliver the same level of customer service at all times.
My goal is to have 35 stores in 10 years. With Ideal, I can connect every one of these stores and ensure unity across all of them. That is something you couldn’t pull off back in the day, so it’s a huge deal.”
How do you make sure that all of your locations deliver the same level of customer service and quality of work in general?
Phillip: “You have to have your senior leadership on the same page. And senior leadership has to make sure that it’ constantly working on its teams – not once a year, not every six months, but every day. And I have to make sure that the quality of our service is where it needs to be, which is why every now and then, I use secret shoppers to see if everything is in order.”
When did you implement Ideal and what was the initial reason for that?
Phillip: “I believe that accurate information and making sure that everyone is on the same page are both extremely important. I reviewed a lot of Ideal’s competitors before deciding that it was the best option for us.
I’m the kind of person who isn’t going to commit to something unless I believe in it. Once I saw all the advantages that Ideal offers, there was no question that it would be the company for our servers and service centers, and parts and inventory, and so on – 20 years from now, Ideal would be the company servicing us.
With that in mind, we implemented Ideal at our first store in 2013.”
What was the process of implementing Ideal?
Phillip: “It was very simple. We had a phenomenal trainer come in, who reviewed the way we had the system set up and sat with us to make sure it was operational. And then, he did the training with our staff. If we still had questions afterwards, we could pick up the phone and call the support team to get the answers right away. What else could you want?”
What is your favorite feature of Ideal right now?
Phillip: “I like everything about it. The inventory is great – we can track a piece of equipment from the moment it comes into our facility until the moment it leaves, so we know exactly where it is, what’s going on with it and who the customers are. I really like that.
The same applies to parts – we always know what we have on the floor. After all, you don’t want to sell something you don’t have.”
Do you use the Ideal mobile app?
Phillip: “We do. It provides us with all the information we need to interact with customers in the palm of our hand – whether we are at the counter or outside looking at the actual equipment. And that’s pretty cool.”
How do you think Ideal will help you meet the business goals you’ve set for yourself?
Phillip: “By providing us with top-rate, accurate information that we can communicate internally to our team to make sure that we truly understand what we have to assist our customers.
Overall, Ideal has made a world of difference for us, and I cannot imagine managing our business without it.”