What a Dealer Wants Sales Reps to Know
Ideal recently spoke with Bob Rodriguez, owner of George’s Mower Service & Sales in Riverview, FL, to get a better understanding of how dealers interact with manufacturer sales reps and what they expect when a rep walks into their business. Read on to learn what Bob’s advice is for anyone walking into his business…
Ideal: What is your position?
Bob: I am the owner of George’s Mower Sales and Service and involve myself in daily operations. I do a lot of everything, but mostly pay bills and do the financials.
Ideal: How long have you been in business and when did you implement Business Management Software?
Bob: We’ve been in business for 35 years. My father-in-law started the business and needed help, so I left my job as an auto mechanic to work for him and stayed. I ended up buying the business in 1979 when he retired. We started using business management software in 1989.
Ideal: As a dealer, how many different manufacturer sales reps do you work with?
Bob: I work with over 32 suppliers if you include all industries inside and outside. I work with 11 if you are talking about the OPE industry.
Ideal: How often do you meet with reps?
Bob: On average once a month and for good dealers that is plenty. When I first got started, I mostly did repairs. I would call reps twice a month at most.
Ideal: Do you need to prepare before a rep comes to see you? Do you expect a call ahead of time?
Bob: No, if they walk in we give them the time of day. We give them the courtesy of hearing what they have to say. I don’t like to tell someone to get out of my store; most people do not do that. I welcome all reps into our store.
The only time I need to prepare is if they come in to do a booking or need to run some history. With our Ideal system, it is quick to do. For example, when our Snapper rep came in last week, we ran history and did a minimum stock level using Ideal.
I appreciate it when reps call at least an hour ahead of time. I don’t like to set appointments and I prefer to go by the seat of my pants, but I want to know ahead of time so they can make sure I am here.
Ideal: What makes a good rep?
Bob: Understanding the dealer side of the business. There are reps that have been on our side of the business and they tend to make a much better rep than just another salesperson. That individual can identify with the dealer. One rep of mine used to work for me. I introduced him into the industry and he appreciated all the knowledge I shared with him.
I prefer reps that have power to make decisions and not ones that have to go through two or three people or managers to make a decision. For example, I had a mower come in with hidden damage found after the crate was opened. The rep should have called someone to come pick it up instantly. Instead, they had to call someone and go through a long tedious process that took time away from me and my business.
Ideal: What do you like about reps?
Bob: I like reps that are knowledgeable, good listeners, and well dressed. I have a first-class store, so I do not want a scruffy rep in my store giving a presentation.
Ideal: What are some areas that sales reps could improve on to become better reps?
Bob: Don’t be pushy and try to sell something you don’t need. There is no point in overbooking when you are paying finance charges. I also don’t want a rep telling me to do this or to do that. I will show reps my numbers and then ask them, “Would you do this if you were in my shoes?” You have to do what is best for you and I have to do what is best for me.
Ideal: If you could give reps one piece of advice, what would it be?
Bob: I would say, be understanding. Understand what the dealers are up against or our position in the industry and be knowledgeable to help us overcome our challenges. For example, last year with <a manufacturer>, we were overstocked. I started to accumulate $2,300 worth of finance charges.
As a rep, don’t give me lip service. If you say you are going to do something, do it, and do it in a timely fashion. If you promise to do something you better do it. I don’t like to waste time calling back or chasing around to figure out what is taking so long.