By April Hirsh / Published September 2016
Win-win is cliché. Still, it sums up the value of add-ons, which most certainly do benefit both the buyer and the seller. Four industry experts share some of their insight into add-ons: Rob Zimmerman, general manager of Scaltrol Inc., Sewanee, GA; Karl Loeffelholz, dealer division manager with Mi-T-M Corporation, Peosta, IA; Edgar Kron, industrial sales with Bozeman Distributors & Cat Pumps, Baton Rouge, LA; and Mike Waldum, sales manager with Hydro Tek Systems Inc., Redlands, CA.
Cleaner Times (CT): How do add-ons (to what the customer originally intended to purchase) work to the advantage of the customer as well as the seller?
Zimmerman: Generally, an add-on item to a sale provides some sort of benefit for the consumer in the form of additional features, maintenance and service protection, or extended product life. The benefit to the sellers is additional sales revenue and increasing the opportunity of gaining a repeat customer.
Loeffelholz: Add-ons are a very important part of the sale. They create extra profits for the dealers as well as getting the end customer maximum performance and user-friendly items. Items such as hose reels, rotating nozzles, and rotating floor cleaners are very nice accessories.
Kron: Add-on items, such as surface cleaners, turbo nozzles, extend range chemical tips, telescoping wands, etc., help the customer complete his job safer, faster, and more efficiently. They also demonstrate to the customer that we, the seller, are trying to educate the customer in the optional equipment available. This helps to build customer loyalty as well as vendor loyalty. It is a two-way street.
It is not always about making a sale. Offering the customer the best options and educating them to make the best decision based on the job or the budget has proven to be most effective and profitable. If the customer is not satisfied with the accessory item or it does not perform to their liking, we will usually take it back if the equipment is in re-sellable condition.
At Bozeman, we prefer the try-before-you-buy method by letting the customer try the equipment in our shop before making a purchase. We invite them to bring in their power washer unit to test accessories, or we can have them use one of ours in our test/demo area.
Waldum: Add-ons often save the end user time and money and can result in him/her making more money. They can also result in a superior finish. A high-speed surface cleaner, for instance, can clean a flat surface five to 10 times faster than a user with a gun/wand assembly. The fixed nozzle distance cleans faster with a more uniform finish and without zebra-striping if sized properly to the pressure washer. The seller benefits by selling the add-on, and if matched properly, the end-user will have a great cleaning package that may result in future business for the seller.
CT: How does a customer benefit from purchasing a pressure washer with ancillaries that will be used most often at the same time as the main unit? Or, is there no benefit to doing so?
Zimmerman: In regards to our products, the benefits the pressure washer customer purchases when adding one of our units are less maintenance, reduced equipment downtime due to failures and repairs, improved equipment performance, and longer equipment life. So add-on purchases can be a huge benefit to a customer buying a pressure washer.
Loeffelholz: The customer benefits greatly depending on what he is cleaning. For example, a hose reel is handy to keep things wrapped up nice and neat after each use. The turbo nozzle can cut cleaning times in half, and rotating surface cleaners will save not only time and money but will assure the flat surface is cleaned in a uniform matter.
Kron: It’s always best to get the customer to purchase the accessories at the time of the power washer purchase to make sure everything is sized correctly and will work together. It saves the customer time and travel, not to mention frustration. Many times, the customer is not familiar with the unit they purchased and has no idea that the nozzle size and/or flow rate is critical to the performance of his equipment. This is the case when customers have made purchases from the box stores or online. At our company, we try to educate the customer before they make any investment in power washing equipment by asking questions, making suggestions and recommendations based on past experience and knowledge.
Waldum: Again, with properly sized ancillaries, and if used properly, the user becomes more efficient and can make the same profit in less time with superior results.
It can also differentiate their cleaning capabilities and benefits versus competitors.
CT: If you were recommending an add-on to an end user, something that would make life easier at jobsites but that is often overlooked, what would it be?
Zimmerman: A Scaltrol product. One of the most expensive factors causing damage to pressure washing equipment are problems caused by hard water. Scale buildup can cause reduced spray pressure due to clogging, engine failure due to back pressure, and reduced heating efficiency and damaged coils on hot water models, all causing equipment downtime for repairs.
Loeffelholz: The three items most purchased are hose reels, turbo nozzles, and rotating surface cleaners.
Kron: Turbo nozzles and surface cleaners would be the two items most recommended. It all depends on the customer and what they are trying to clean. Home owners and commercial operators are different. Both have the same needs, usually, but require different grades or types of equipment to accomplish the same job.
It comes down to the quality of the equipment and the best tools to make the job safe, efficient, and cost effective. We offer a good, better, and best option on all of our equipment and accessories. We educate the customer and then let them decide on how best to invest in the equipment needed.
Waldum: It depends on the application: flat work—high-speed surface cleaner; de-watering or high-volume water transfer—RPV high volume water transfer/vacuum system; paint removal—wet sandblast assembly; de-watering, high volume, on a budget—ANS04/05 Venturi pump; hose stowage—wall mount or machine/trailer mount hose reel; budget add-on soap—down-stream injector system; second story washing—high-reach wash pole; adhesives or caked-on mud removal—turbo nozzle; algae/mildew removal on rooftops—high-reach 12VDC spray system, soft-wash AC110.
CT: How can distributors be certain that they serve as a strong link between end users and manufacturers in the realm of being ready to recommend state-of-the-art add-ons?
Zimmerman: I believe it is our responsibility, as manufacturers of add-on products, to ensure distributors are aware of our products through proper marketing.
Kron: Offer and stock quality products. Educate the customer and the sales staff on the products. Have the sales staff attend trade shows to see new products and technology. Subscribe to trade journals, take advantage of manufacturer training, and get firsthand use of the products that you are trying to sell. Be knowledgeable.
Offer free demonstrations on new products or invite customers to get hands-on use of new equipment and accessories. Try to keep an open line of communication between the manufacturers and distributors by letting them know what the customers want and what is needed in the marketplace.
Waldum: Attend technical training meetings and webinars. Have internal sales meetings to present new products to sales teams.
• Be the expert—the better you know the product, the easier it is to sell. Send mass e-mails to current customers and prospects showcasing new items. Repeat end-user business would prove they are doing it right.
• Branding—leverage key brands and content online, such as your website and social media.
• Display marketing—the more you show, the more you sell. Keep showroom stock of key add-ons and new releases. This gives end users the ‘wow’ factor and you are the expert.
CT: What should we have asked you about how add-ons figure in the needs of the end user and the business plans of manufacturers and distributors?
Zimmerman: All of the above.
Kron: Some add-ons are included in the original equipment package, like gauges, safety relief/pop-off valves, thermal relief valves, etc. We try to offer the best package for the customer based on their needs and budget. We offer power washers with standard equipment and offer to customize any unit with the wants and needs of the customer.
Waldum: The how—teaching distributors some key sales and marketing tactics on how to increase add-on sales. Here are a few examples: bundling add-ons commonly used with specific machines and jobs makes it easier for end user and sales to communicate and will increase add-on sales; incentivize/spiff key add-ons you want the sales team to focus on; recognize excelling salesmen at sales meetings; develop a checklist of key add-ons most common with machines.