When you’re ready to buy a new machine for your operation, you have a lot of options to choose from. Not only should you think about what company to buy from and what model or size to buy, but you should also consider whether to buy from a company with a dealer network or from a company that operates directly from a factory. It can be a lot to consider.
To help make your decision a little easier, let’s define each one and then break down the differences.
Working with a factory directly means that you’re working with representatives of the factory that provide parts and service support. Usually, these representatives are either working from their home and traveling around the region they’re responsible for, or they’re coordinating directly with the factory on a regular basis.
A dealer network is what it sounds like: a connected network of dealers in every region of the country, and in other countries, that are closely tied to the manufacturer. Think of it like a car dealership taken to the next level. Each Vermeer dealership is independent and entrepreneurial, but they communicate with Vermeer headquarters on a daily basis. There are hundreds of dealer locations worldwide that provide local support across the world.
Local parts and support
Working with a local company gives you an increased level of support. Here’s why: having a local shop and parts depot to lean on gives you fast responsiveness when parts are suddenly needed. Issues can happen when you least expect it and when you need your machine to run the most, so being able to fix the issue is key.
If you work with a factory directly, they have a single source of parts, but it’s all based in the factory. So, if you don’t live close to the factory, it may take a while to get the part you need. At the same time, most factory-direct representatives are covering a much broader region.
If you work with a dealer network, they can be a local partner that helps stock the parts you need. For example, a Vermeer dealership can see other dealerships’ parts inventory and work across dealer lines to help with parts availability.
“We recommend customers work with their local dealer to come up with a parts stocking list,” said Ted Dirkx, recycling and forestry sales manager at Vermeer. “Those parts can be a catalyst to an operation because they can help minimize repair times.”
To come up with a list, think about those parts you know you’ll be using on a 30-, 60- and 90-day basis. Those are your wear parts and it’s helpful to have those on hand. However, some parts that you might need on a six-month or yearly basis, your local dealer will most likely have in stock. It’s helpful to have those nearby when you need them and dealers can anticipate that need for you.
It’s one thing to have the parts and support nearby, but it’s even more important to have quality service. For example, having a qualified technician in close vicinity to your operation that knows your piece of equipment can make a big difference to your repair time and help maximize your efficiency.
“A local, qualified technician is exactly what you get when you’re working with a dealer,” explained Dirkx. “But from a factory perspective, you have a single source of service from the factory itself.”
Because of that difference in local service versus factory service, you may have longer wait times from the factory.
Another perk of having the support and service from a local dealership is the opportunity to leverage warranty and extended service programs. The Vermeer Confidence Plus® asset protection program provides maintenance intervals to have a service technician come out and do a multipoint inspection. Many factories do not offer this level of inspection directly, which can put the responsibility on the customer.
One of the main areas of improvement happens when you maximize your productivity. How can a dealer network or a factory help with that?
It happens through local market experts from the dealer. “Our local application specialists, especially on the recycling and forestry side, provide the market and application expertise that our customers often need,” said Dirkx.
Dirkx went on to say that factory-direct dealerships may have this too, but it may not be as localized or specific to each application or market. “For instance, say you’re working with Florida palm trees,” said Dirkx. “Having someone local come and give you specific advice and input on how to properly and efficiently recycle those trees can be really helpful to your overall operation.”
Tom Ruegemer, a recycling and forestry specialist at Vermeer RDO says it this way when describing his role in the customer’s operation: “I’m not a salesman, I’m really a business partner. If I can help them grow that business and that network of marketing their product and help many of them connect with another buyer or another outlet, that’s what really matters.”
Ryan Andry, another recycling and forestry specialist at Vermeer Texas-Louisiana, tells a similar story: “We know all the people in the field and we’re able to help them network, and that really brings value to the customer. At the end of the day, it’s not just about selling machines, it’s bringing value and that’s what we really try to do and be a partner to their business.”
Andry goes on to talk more about his role and relationship with his customers: “My role in my customer’s business is being a consultant to them. Advising them on how to run the machine more efficiently or advising them on something they may be missing from a maintenance standpoint.”
From a customer standpoint, this makes a big difference in how they operate. “The nice thing about having a specialist is that I have a face of who I’m talking to on the phone,” said Antony Konefat, owner of Yosemite Ag Solutions LLC. “On other equipment I’ve owned, I’ve called the main factory and every time I talk to somebody, it’s a new person, and then I have to re-explain to them the type of machinery I have and the types of issues I’m having with their machinery, and then they’ll give me their thoughts on how to get it fixed.”
One last benefit that a dealer network can provide is the option for rental machines. Some dealers offer these when customers are having their piece of equipment serviced.
“Having equipment to rent or loan is a big value that a local dealership can offer,” said Dirkx. “Unfortunately, factories can’t always offer this.”
Many dealers have an inventory of new and used equipment available to loan or rent. It’s a luxury that dealers can do well.
Overall, the benefits of working with a dealer network instead of a factory are many, but the most important one is the relationship that’s built with a specialist that knows your operation and machines and can offer customized and personal support and service whenever you need it.
Dave Steege, a recycling and forestry specialist at Vermeer RDO, says it well: “I don’t think there’s another brand on the market that’s as well integrated with their customers and the dealerships. There’s a lot of salespersons out there that just want to put something through the door and move on to the next deal, and we’re just not like that.”
This article contains third-party observations, advice or experiences that do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Vermeer Corporation, its affiliates or its dealers. Testimonials and/or endorsements by customers in specific circumstances may not be representative of normal circumstances experienced by all customers.
Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region. Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications.
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