Before you read this article, please be assured that the content is not aimed at an individual organisation and is made up purely of my views and observations on today’s supply and support network.
When we buy a vehicle, machine or piece of equipment we expect that we will receive a level of follow up support which ensures that we go back to the supplier or manufacturer, and that this service will help sell more for the supplier and ultimately the manufacturer. Although smaller, independent suppliers often fall over themselves to follow up a sale with a phone call, or drop into a site just to check everything is alright, over the last year or so I have noticed a distinct lack of this support from larger operations. It seems that big businesses move on from you as soon as your order is placed, forgetting that in many cases the equipment actually sells itself, and it’s the back-up support that secures future deals.
I’m sure we all do our homework before committing to spending tens of thousands of pounds on a piece of equipment, meaning that a good part of their sales job has done itself. Once they have the order it should be a simple case of supplying the equipment – but this is unfortunately where some suppliers fall at the first hurdle. This might be by failing to deliver on time, not reading the specification (which can cost them money) or just coming up with every excuse available (including blaming the manufacturer) to hide their shortcomings.
Very inviting but is the product support so well organised?
I can fully appreciate that there are not stock piles of vehicles and machinery ready for distribution across the country. However, when you order well in advance – to an agreed specification for delivery on a certain date – why then is the dealer surprised that you cancel when told your vehicles are still 3 months away? When equipment is readily available and specifications are agreed with both manufacturer and supplier, is it any wonder your blood boils when it is delivered with £1,000 worth of options you didn’t want – and worse still, untaxed and with no number plates so you can’t use it!
On the plus side, there are organisations of all sizes who are happy to go the extra mile to make things happen, no matter how bizarre the request. This could be down to contract idiosyncrasies; an unforeseen problem which requires a piece of equipment to be altered, a last minute change in specification or human error. In many cases it is the individuals within these organisations and their understanding of your business that make things happen. Without this personal touch we’d all struggle, so don’t take them for granted and remember to say thank you, it goes a long way in today’s world.
So what am I trying to say with this article? Well it’s simply that if you find a good supplier, stick with them and ensure you get the support you’re paying for. Equipment is becoming increasingly expensive to buy and maintain, so make sure you get value for money. If a spare part is not available then ask ‘why not?’ and ‘how long will it take?’ Remember that every day your machine is off the road it’s costing you money. If your vehicle or machine does suffer a major failure, find out why and get to the bottom of it, so you can try to avoid it happening again. Suppliers and manufacturers have a tough time with customers who are, allegedly – always right. We’re not, so establish and maintain a good relationship and when a problem does arise try to resolve it amicably as no matter whose fault it is, it helps in the long run.
Group Head of Assets and Fleet
Angus writes a monthly column for Pro Landscaper Magazine