“Bottom line, working with Chief Outsiders has reinvigorated our entire company. We’re getting a tremendous amount of value from what they bring to the table.”
Jeff Plotka, President, Precision Work, Inc.
Precision Work, Inc. (PWI), a lawn care equipment distributor, focuses on managing relationships with 120 dealers in the northeastern United States. Jeff Plotka, President, felt dissatisfied by manufacturers’ traditional marketing efforts, including cumbersome and underused dealer co-op marketing funds. Seeking marketing depth and innovation, PWI engaged Chief Outsiders CMO, Dennis Bailen. Early results include a new integrated marketing strategy, accountability-based marketing infrastructure and the reinvigoration of the entire company.
Precision Work, Inc. (PWI), a second generation, family-owned distribution business, provides professional lawn care equipment sales, product support and parts to 120 dealers in the northeastern United States. PWI stands out for its customer-first approach that treats independent dealers like members of the family.
Factory Marketing Gap
As the company grew, the gap between its primary manufacturer’s marketing efforts and PWI’s needs also increased. A cumbersome, dealer co-op program failed to generate excitement and brand awareness, with only 10% of co-op funds utilized.
PWI sought a cost-effective marketing partner to highlight their unique customer service, create a targeted approach, establish long-term market positioning and generate quantifiable results.
Search for Expertise
Initial search efforts failed to produce results. Jeff Plotka, President of PWI, explains, “We tried to hire a local marketing company but they didn’t have the depth that we wanted or the ability to get us where we needed to go.”
Upon hearing of Chief Outsiders at an industry meeting, researching the website and inquiring further, Plotka realized that Chief Outsiders’ responsive, experienced and accessible business consultants could clarify PWI’s strategy and execution, resulting in a win for both his company and clients.
The depth of experience that he saw at Chief Outsiders confirmed his decision to move forward with the engagement. “They have a whole team of people to help strategize and work with our staff to realize our sales and marketing goals,” he related.
Enter partner and Chief Outsiders CMO, Dennis Bailen, whose professionalism and preparation put PWI in the right mood, ready to collaborate, right away. “At our second meeting, Dennis came with ideas, potential brochures, and a new logo,” shared Plotka. “I’ve never seen someone so prepared.”
Bailen had begun by visiting PWI’s Port Washington, NY, headquarters to conduct in-person interviews. He traveled with staff to sales meetings and spoke with potential clients at trade shows to learn their pain points. “We had a lot of conversation with various dealers about the issues they face,” he stated.
He then put together a marketing matrix to illustrate how well the company met customers' key requirements. “We’re a smaller company and this kind of assistance from Chief Outsiders helped us tremendously,” related Plotka.
Collaboration with leadership at annual dealer meetings and on-site helped to determine future market direction and identify key growth factors. County by county research and a review of dealer lists brought customer and prospect databases up to speed.
With Walker Mowers’ products, the most expensive in the industry, accounting for 80% of sales, Bailen and the team decided that positioning based on productivity and payback would make PWI more attractive to potential dealers.
Bailen worked with leadership to strategize 2016 goals and also functioned as a liaison to communicate strategy and objectives to team members.
The coordinated effort sought to align marketing to sales goals and evolve the culture of the company to be a market-focused organization. “PWI excels as a sales-and-service-driven company, but they’re experiencing a transition to have marketing come to the fore and support the other legs of the stool,” he explained.
Moving forward with the new strategy, Bailen worked with PWI leadership to develop an integrated marketing plan and budget with a proactive co-op program and goals to support 120 dealers. Seeking to strengthen PWI’s marketing organization, he also counselled with Plotka to onboard a marketing coordinator.
Under Bailen’s direction, the marketing team implemented an impressive program of marketing activities and metrics, including:
After implementing a CallRail system that assigns different phone numbers to each marketing activity and tracks the most profitable channels, new messaging invited dealers and commercial landscaping companies to “take the Walker challenge.”
The interactive promotion supported the new positioning by comparing the performance, increased productivity and payback of Walker mowers to competing brands. “We built a campaign using QR codes to bring people right to that page on the website,” explained Bailen.
Going way beyond marketing strategy and advice, Bailen’s work built a solid foundation for the company’s ongoing marketing function. “We helped them build the required marketing infrastructure, in terms of process and dealer performance metrics,” he said.
PWI now enjoys increased control and predictable outcomes with the targeted marketing programs created by Chief Outsiders. “Now we have a marketing direction with a program that’s measureable,” stated Plotka.
PWI sales staff focus less on unit sales and more on dealer-by-dealer assessment and performance metrics. “The sales people are reaching out to the dealers,” explained Bailen. “We're well on our way to executing some key dealer support programs, dealer by dealer.”
The shift towards a focus on dealer performance with a well-managed co-op program, led to PWI’s goal to double the utilization of dealer co-op funds in 2016. The new marketing coordinator provides ongoing direction and support for the program.
Enthusiasm and Confidence
The marketing vision of Bailen and Chief Outsiders produced renewed enthusiasm and confidence in the future among PWI employees. Plotka explains, “When staff can see a direction, it builds their sense of security and makes for a happy workplace.”
Staff members fully support the new direction and programs. The infusion of creativity and expertise, coupled with an on-site presence where sales staff and Chief Outsiders work together, have built a solid foundation for growth.
“Collaborating with Chief Outsiders has put all my people in a great place mentally,” exudes Plotka. “Employees see where we are going and they are excited. It’s been contagious to everyone here.”
Within five months of engaging Chief Outsiders, PWI has an integrated marketing strategy for key markets and desired growth supported by metrics. Coming new dealer support programs and an updated pricing structure aim to further increase dealer commitment.
Momentum has increased steadily as dealers notice PWI’s new materials and channels. The productivity and payback positioning makes PWI more attractive to potential dealers as well. The renewed dealer excitement is expected to pay off in future sales growth.
A Growth Partnership
Plotka strongly recommends Chief Outsiders to colleagues in the industry. “When people see what’s going on, they get excited and start asking questions,” he notes. “In short, I tell them, ‘Don’t hesitate to hire Chief Outsiders.’”
For Bailen, it’s a rewarding partnership. “They're great people and it's fun to work with them because they are embracing change,” he concludes.