Sell Your Dealership, Not a Brand

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Today’s dealerships are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Many have found themselves pigeon-holed into becoming synonymous with whatever brand they are affiliated with. Whether you’re a dealer in the agriculture or construction industry, you need to make sure that your customers know they’re buying more than just a name and color of paint.
What do I mean by that? In short you need to sell your dealership, not a name brand. After all, it’s your customer service, your technicians, and your team that a customer is buying into when they choose to do business with you. If you drop the ball and can’t come through for a farmer when his combine goes down and he needs you most, John Deere won’t be losing a customer. You will.
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Sell More Than a Name Brand

Don’t misunderstand me, brand loyalty is still important and is something you can use to your advantage, but in the end it’s a customer’s loyalty to you and your dealership that matters most of all. There are lots of brand choices out there for heavy equipment and there are even more options available when it comes to dealers.
Whether you focus on selling one brand exclusively or have a mix of makes and models, you need to do all you can to ensure all of your customers can count on you to be there when they need you most. If their equipment has issues you’ll have a tech out on the job ASAP. If you can’t fix it immediately you’ll have a loaner for them to make sure they don’t fall behind.
Everything comes down to the quality of your brand, your dealership. If a customer can’t count on you there’s plenty of other dealers out there (probably not that far away) they can go to and get the same machinery. Your success depends on how you handle your business and take care of your customers. Sure, a brand name may be what gets them in the door, but it’s your care, service, and professionalism that will keep them coming back.
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Become Highly Targeted with Your Marketing

Getting yourself out of the mindset of being the local “insert brand name here” dealer and shifting the focus to your dealership brand is difficult. But once you do, you can begin to take a different tone and approach with your marketing efforts. And remember, just because I’m saying you should sell your dealership first and foremost doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of brand loyalty.

Capitalize on Brand Loyalty

Make no mistake, brand loyalty can still make a difference, and you can use that with your marketing. Just make sure it’s not the only thing you build your business around. Kind of like putting all your eggs in one basket, you know? That being said, agriculture and construction equipment brands do develop loyal user bases.
Construction Equipment
In construction for instance, Caterpillar has now been the best-selling construction brand in the world for a decade and a half. In 2017 alone they controlled over 16% of the construction market share.
In the agriculture realm, there’s actually been an upwards trend in brand loyalty over the past few years.
Farmer Brand Loyalty
I know what you’re thinking. I just told you to focus your efforts on selling your dealership and not a brand. Well that still applies. Your dealership and your service should be the most important thing you can offer to customers. However, you can use brand loyalty to find prospects who would be the best fit for you.
Using a database like EDA you can find and target specific customer audiences based off equipment brands, ages, and buying cycles. So if you happen to be a Kubota dealer you can target those buyers in your AOR who are Kubota loyal because you have what they’re looking for. Make sure to feature the brand they’re loyal to, but build your messaging around why your dealership is the place to buy that brand of equipment.
Emphasize your service, your technicians, your customer satisfaction, whatever it is that you do best, make sure to highlight it. If a brand is large enough to have developed a loyal following, the chances are that you are not the only place in your area that can offer them that particular brand. That’s when it comes back to selling more than just an equipment brand name. Sell your dealership. They can buy the equipment at any number of dealerships. What they can’t buy anywhere else is the service, support, and overall experience that your dealership has to offer.

Target Swayables

On the flip side of that situation are the customers who care absolutely nothing about brand. Or at least not to a point that it has an overriding effect in the equipment purchasing process. The trick is to pinpoint and target this segment with the right messaging. Using the same information offered through EDA you can know exactly which prospective customers are swayable and may be open to buying the brand you have to offer.
How can you know who may be considered swayable? Take a look at the equipment they own. If they own 15 pieces of equipment and 11 of them are the same brand, you can consider them a brand loyal prospect. If you sell that particular brand you can approach it just as we discussed before. However, if they’re loyal to a brand you don’t offer, it may be best to just move on.
When you’re looking for swayables what you’re really looking for are those owners who don’t really seem to favor one manufacturer over the other. That leaves the door open for you. Based off of equipment age and buying cycles (data points available in EDA) you can target the prospect at the right time and build messaging around the kind of equipment they’ll be in the market for.
Because they’ve shown no overwhelming loyalty to any one particular brand, your dealership and your quality of service matter even more here. They’ve already shown a propensity to buy whatever brand suits their purpose, which means your dealership and the specific things you offer and do differently will be what makes the difference and sets you apart from the competition.
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Reach the Right Prospects

Everyone knows all the big name brands. Whether it’s John Deere, Caterpillar, Kubota, or any other well-known brand, there are always going to be buyers that are die-hard and loyal. Just like there are always going to be those who couldn’t care less about brand names.
By selling the quality of your dealership and services offered first and foremost you set yourself up for success with both of these sets of prospects. Use data to dig deep and become very targeted and specific with the messaging you use. For those who show affinity to the brand you sell, you already know you have exactly what they want. So let them know how you are going to take care of them and all the services you have that will benefit them.
For those who are more swayable it truly is all about your particular dealership. Why should they choose you and the equipment you offer over everyone else? Now you’re not just competing with other dealers who sell the same brand as you, but every other dealer who sells any brand. You have to be able to show exactly why you should be their choice. Every business excels at something. You need to find what it is you excel at and build around it.
Regardless of which type of prospects you are going after, your dealership and your brand (not the equipment brand) needs to be prominent. When a customer buys from you they’re buying into your business and putting their trust in you, not an equipment brand. Remember that with your marketing efforts. Your dealership is your brand, not the equipment you sell.
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