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Dealer Profile


Jeff’s Small Engine


“I like keeping parts on hand because sometimes it’s a $1 part that can mess up a whole repair job,” he says. “And when somebody comes in with money in hand, I hate to turn them away.”


Word-of-Mouth


Marketing Brings Results Dealers have many options for


advertising today, including print, radio, television and online. Kruse says word-of-mouth recommendations have always worked the best for him but he also relies on other traditional and low-tech approaches: a highway bill- board and shirts and caps.


The billboard is on a busy state highway where he says many custom- ers see the sign as they are heading


to area cabins and lakes. They then call him when their recreational equip- ment breaks down during their vaca- tions. Commuters to St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn., also see the sign. Kruse shares this story about how a T-shirt led to a sale. An employee from the state’s department of natural resources was fishing and saw anoth- er fisherman wearing a Jeff’s Small Engine T-shirt with the Exmark logo. “He had really wanted to buy an Exmark mower. He read my phone number off the back of the guy’s shirt and called me,” he says.


Become a Trusted


Source of Information Kruse says that in the service and parts business, trustworthiness and reliability are as important as equip- ment expertise. “We always try to evaluate what the customers’ needs are. Sometimes, they come in and say they need a carbure- tor and I tell them all they really need is a part like a gasket,” he says. Andy Kruse (Jeff’s son) says parts and service involves customer relation- ships and some education, too. “It’s about explaining why the breakdown happened, what may have caused the issue and how to avoid it in the future,” he says. “We try to explain and relate to the customer rather than just saying, ‘You need this part.’ In my mind, that’s a huge difference. “It comes down to our experience to tell them if the equipment is worth fixing or if we feel it’s not worth it. Ultimately, it’s the customer’s decision, but we want to be honest and not seem as if we’re try- ing to push new equipment,” Andy says. Good customer service skills are


especially important when selling parts. Customers may come into the dealership frustrated because of bro- ken-down equipment.


“I try to teach the younger peo- ple that you can’t get angry. Ninety percent of all people are decent, but everyone can have a bad day. Try to work through it. Be nice to them or you’ll never get any business from them,” Kruse says.


Visit RuralLifestyleDealer.com/RS and indicate No. 109 28 RURAL LIFESTYLE DEALER  SPRING 2013


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