It can be a difficult feat to succeed and sustain a profitable business in the material handling industry, but it can be done with the right programs and products in place. With that in mind, a few members of UniCarriers Americas’ (UCA) dealer network recently shed light on what it takes to prepare and set up their businesses for success.
The first step to a successful dealership begins with properly training employees. Sunbelt Industrial Trucks, a UCA authorized dealer located in Dallas, Texas, has a robust training method when onboarding new sales representatives. “We have a roughly 90-day rotation-style training that all sales reps complete before entering the field,” said Randell Hiltbrunner, territory manager for Sunbelt Industrial Trucks. “Depending on the candidate’s experience, we have them spend a week each in the shop, in a service van, and then in each department of the office, which gives them a better grasp on the operation and the many jobs that support them in the field.”
And don’t discount UniCarriers Americas’ JumpStart training as being a vital step in the training process. “JumpStart training is helpful for salespeople who are committed to learning the industry and the philosophy behind the product design,” said Duane Hardy, president of Forklift Systems, Inc.
Hiltbrunner echoes Hardy by saying JumpStart is an integral part of the training process. “With the equipment and technical knowledge received at JumpStart training, the new sales reps are well prepared to jump into our rotational training plan.”
“We try to send our employees to Marengo every time we have the opportunity. People feel pride and loyalty toward the brand,” added Luis Pons, general director of Vegusa Maquinaria.
No matter how sound training methods are, offering quality products is also important for a business to succeed. Don Myers, general sales manager for J.M. Equipment Company, Inc., said UniCarriers forklifts are clean burning and longer lasting, which has been appealing to the dealer’s customers over the years. For UCA’s Latin American market, Pons adds uptime and reliability to the list of features that have stood out to Vegusa Maquinaria’s customer base, and Hardy attributes long-term quality, value and lower cost of ownership as having an effect on customers’ buying decisions.
With the right training and products in place, what exactly does it take to motivate dealers and drive sales? Factors like offering incentives and setting internal sales goals are very important. “We have a team meeting each December to plan for the upcoming year and discuss how we can achieve them. We monitor and track our goals that are displayed on scorecards across the office,” said Hiltbrunner.
Encouraging employees by offering rewards can have an effect on securing deals. “Forklift Systems offers several stock unit cash incentives, and we hold quarterly contests and award annual trips for exceeding goals,” Hardy said.
Relentless customer service is also an important component for a business to flourish in a competitive industry. “We have outstanding customer service and a strong sense of loyalty to our people. They know they can count on us to be honest and do business with integrity,” said Gary Hansen, general manager for Capital Equipment & Handling, Inc.
Adrian Gonzalez, general manager for Montacargas Galeria, adds, “We always establish strong working relations with our customers. We know we don’t only sell the equipment, but we sell material handling solutions and optimal uptime, and we do this with our strong commitment to our customers.”
Jeff Fuller, vice president of sales and operations for Lift Solutions, Inc., said another way of reaching and engaging customers is opening its doors through organized open houses. “We take a lot of pride in the appearance and functionality of our facilities, and we invite customers to the open houses, where they not only see examples of the products and services that we provide, but the capabilities of our facilities such as steam clean and paint booths,” said Fuller.
“We also have employees attend from the local facility as well as from neighboring locations. We have found that this has been very beneficial for morale and helps to make our employees proud of the company that they are a part of,” added Fuller.
How to position your business has also changed, and as sales tactics continue to evolve, all seven UCA dealers are seeing the value of looking at digital media, such as email marketing, to attract new customers. But, old-school referrals have also proven effective. “The best way to get new customers is with the recommendation of our existing customers. We receive many calls from potential customers stating they heard about us through their network,” said Pons.
Lastly, promoting company culture also helps drive motivation and success within the workplace. For instance, Lift Solutions puts a great deal of effort into identifying and reinforcing its company culture with its employees.
“We use our company culture extensively when interviewing potential candidates and performing employee performance reviews,” said Fuller. “We believe our success is attributable to our culture of 5 main principles: customer service, teamwork, professionalism, communication and being employee focused. By focusing on these principles, it helps us attract the best talent, achieve incredible growth and build a reputation as the best dealership within our markets.”
By putting proper training in place, offering incentives, setting reasonable goals, providing the best in customer service and putting an emphasis on a healthy company culture, dealers in the material handling industry can continue to prosper in the years to come.
Capital Equipment & Handling, Inc., a UCA dealer located in Hartland, Wisconsin, serves most of Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, northern Illinois and far western Indiana and has been in business since 1984.
Forklift Systems, Inc., a dealer with headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, serves middle Tennessee, central and northern Alabama, central Kentucky and southern Indiana.
J.M. Equipment Company, Inc. is headquartered in Manteca, California, and serves the state’s central valley. The company has been in business for 82 years.
Lift Solutions, Inc. is located in Omaha, Nebraska and has been in business for 37 years. The company opened its eighth location in 2018.
Montacargas Galeria, located in San Nicolas de los Garza in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, was established in 2007 and has an additional four branches.
Sunbelt Industrial Trucks is located in Dallas, Texas, and has been in business for almost 31 years. The company serves north Texas, southern Oklahoma and the Waco/Temple area of Texas.
Vegusa Maquinaria, headquartered in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, has been in the forklift business since 1996 and has five locations in the central region of the country.