The tendency for parts and service staff is often to work with the familiar. It takes a certain assertiveness and perhaps, even incentive, to think outside the box.

This is especially true when looking at attracting customers who are traditionally loyal to other brands than yours, to find the opportunities amidst the obstacles. One of the pathways to progress in this area, dealers say, is to force parts and sales managers to get out of their comfort zones.

“Basically, it means getting them out from behind the parts counter or their desk and out of the store,” says Stan Vardell with Greenway Equipment. “One idea is to have a gift bag with water, snacks and a business card, and place that in the tractor door. If you don’t catch a customer, let them know that you’ve been out on their farm, or just a door hanger. Something that lets the customer to know you’ve been there and in most cases parts and service people are not considered a threat when they come out to a farm.”

  Another option is for management to establish an aftermarket committee with the intention of discussing and reporting opportunities to attract new business. One dealer shared their experience setting up an aftermarket committee, working in conjunction with the marketing department to establish a promotional calendar offering service and parts discounts or services on a variety of brands.

The committee meets every 6 months to evaluate the success of each monthly promotion and consider changes or to continue the promotion the following year.

“It boils down to 2 things. Everybody understands that it’s all about the customer experience,” Vardell says. “Base your plan for attracting customers of different brands off the relationship that you’re building with that customer. Get them in the door. Sometimes that does require a monetary piece. Second, good service, whether it’s parts and service, brings customers back for more business in the future.”