By Kent Peddie, CSP
There are dozens of influencers that affect people when making a purchase, and there are very few purchases more important than heavy equipment to a snow removal professional.
When it was time to update our skid-steer loader fleet a few years ago, we brainstormed about each item that was important to us and put those lists into a concise spreadsheet.
In the following weeks, we visited equipment dealers that we had dealt with previously or ones we had met at the SIMA Symposium and brought our newly created spreadsheet with us to our meetings.
This simple task resulted in:
- Increased professionalism
- Keeping the conversation to our agenda
- Sharper pencils from the dealers
- Ensuring we wore blinders and weren’t swayed by bells and whistles
- Maintaining great relations with our suppliers
It was very empowering to sit down with a vendor and have a well laid-out agenda and pre-set list of our requirements. By coming to the meetings prepared, it showed that we were serious about the purchase and were not just kicking tires.
Our spreadsheet kept us on topic and allowed us to control the conversation. Good salespeople are happy to showcase their product’s strengths; however, those strengths may have very little bearing in the snow and ice management world. Coming prepared allowed us to ask the right questions and identify not only the strengths of each piece of equipment but also their weaknesses.
Being straightforward and letting them know that we were visiting several dealers helped to keep their pencils sharp. We also wanted them to know that we were meticulously reviewing the equipment and were not simply looking at the superficial look of the equipment.
After our purchasing process was complete we contacted the dealers that did not win our business and thanked them for their time and effort. They should not have taken the loss of the sale personally since we referenced the methodical process that was used. All of them appreciated our honest and direct approach, and we have continued to have positive relations with them moving forward.
We conducted a brainstorming exercise to create a list of the key features in a skid-steer loader that would be important to our winter business. This same list could be modified for wheel loader, truck, or other purchases.
This spreadsheet was divided into general categories and allowed for the review of different brands. At the end of each category we ranked the equipment and then ultimately picked a winner based on the rankings.
Kent Peddie, CSP, is president of Precision Snow Removal in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a member of the SIMA Board of Directors and the Snow Business Editorial Advisory Committee. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.