We have seen a major shift in tractor and equipment dealers’ service policies and attitudes.
I often receive phone calls for help from those who purchased a Lawn mower on-line or drove several hours away to purchase a tractor a little cheaper. NOW….they need warranty repair service and the local dealer in their town tells them “If you didn’t buy it here.. DON’T bring it here“
So, what’s going on? What good is a warranty if you can’t get any service help, right? Doesn’t the local dealer want the warranty work? Unfortunately many of them don’t.
Recently, I made a few phone calls and spent some time talking to independent dealers and manufacturers’ reps. to find out what is going on. The dealers say they feel the manufacturers have created an environment where “everyone wins except for the service dealers” Several equipment MFG’s told me that they “expect the dealers to make their profit on the sale, not on warranty repairs.”
The story below will help explain what the independent dealers have expressed.
Customer ‘X‘ purchases a Lawn Mower on-line from an Internet store 200 miles away (they were able to sell it $300 cheaper then the local servicing dealer because they don’t have the overhead of a service department) Now it won’t start. So he calls the local dealer (that he didn’t buy from) This dealer now has 2 options…
1. Accept the repair job. Which will mean, for most major brands…
A) NO diagnostic time will be paid.
B) NO time is paid for researching parts needed to perform the repair.
C) COST ONLY will be reimbursed on parts.
D) If parts must be ordered, shipping costs are NOT reimbursed.
E) the repair time allowed is set to a “FLAT RATE“
F) In many cases, any reimbursement gets applied to the dealers “parts account” instead of actually reimbursing them money.
2. Decline the repair job.
All of the dealers I spoke to, stated that, Absolutely, they will always repair a mower that they sold. Most reported though, that after…
- paying a technician to diagnose the problem
- a parts person to research & order parts
- The actually repair time and the time spent communicating with the customer,
The average warranty repair job actually looses .5% – 1% of their original profit!
So…In option 1, The customer is happy because the machine was fixed under warranty. The manufacturer is happy because the customer is happy, and as I said earlier..”everyone wins except for the dealer” (especially this guy who didn’t even get the original sale and now he’s expected to loose money)
In option 2 above, the local dealer was not willing to loose money repairing a machine that he didn’t even sell. This becomes a looser for everyone.
First. The customer feels the dealer was being mean and combative, Taking away the opportunity for future business.
Second. Many customers don’t realize that buying local from a servicing dealer is worth more than the money they may have saved… Instead of hearing, “next time, I’ll buy local” I’ve heard owners say “I’m NEVER buying that brand again. I can’t get it worked on”
Unfortunately, unless equipment manufacturers put a stop to the stores that sell on-line and out of their territory, because they can’t & don’t offer parts and service. AND until the manufacturers address the needs of the servicing dealers to be profitable, The only advice I can offer is….
Think before you buy. Look past the price tag when shopping for your next machine.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to share any personal experience as well.