Sometimes you don’t need the whole world to know that you’ve got equipment for sale.
“When it comes to asset disposal, some companies are sensitive about who they want to market to, because they don’t want their competitors to know,” says Mark Turner, CEO and founder of Krank, an online business-to-business network equipment platform. For example, a rental company might not want to let the general market know that they are about to sell 50 aerial lifts.
More important, today’s equipment sellers are interested in reaching specific potential buyers, not the entire known universe.
And so instead of inviting the world to an online equipment marketplace, Krank takes a different approach: using the Krank platform, users – primarily dealers, rental companies and manufacturers at this point — create private networks of potential buyers.
Instead of putting an equipment listing on a platform that gets a million clicks per day, the idea is to rather “grow your networks and grow them organically,” Turner says.
“The whole point is to be able to choose your marketplace,” Turner, a Brit who has an extensive background in equipment sales, both in running his own equipment brokerage firm and working for a heavy equipment dealer in the states. “We’re trying to discourage the tire kickers. If a someone is seriously interested in your machine, they’ll be interested enough to send you a network request on Krank.”
Your piece of the world
Krank uses the theme “Network More, Trade More.”
With Krank, users are responsible for developing their own networks. The world doesn’t come to you; you develop your own piece of the world. You send the invites, you put up the listings and you control how often those listings appear in your network(s) newsfeed(s).
Each user also determines who will be in his or her individual networks. Network creators can organize their networks however they want. For example, an earthmoving-equipment-only buying network could be separate from a cranes-only buying network.
Unlike email blasts, network creators can use Krank to re-share their offers daily, putting it back into the platform’s Facebook-like newsfeed without spamming the inboxes of their network, Turner explains. The network creator controls what drops into the newsfeed of each network, including what’s for sale or rent, or even general equipment information. “You’re constantly reminding them you’re there and you’re constantly refreshing that relationship,” Turner says.
When a potential buyer makes an inquiry, network creators know the specific machine or item under question – handy if they are selling several machines — and they have the inquirer’s basic data. This lessens the risk of an improperly fielded phone call, Turner says.
Krank has two basic types of equipment marketplaces: the public marketplace — available for view by anyone on krank.com — and a user’s individual network marketplace(s). The public marketplace has one difference from most online platforms: the seller’s name is not revealed unless the seller wants it to be public. If you’re interested in a machine on the public marketplace, you’re invited to join Krank and send an inquiry to the seller.
Seeing the inquiry, the seller makes the decision whether or not he wants to invite that person into his network. From that point on, the seller can share what he wants to share with that person.
“Each company has its own criteria as to how they want to ideally shape the market for their equipment,” Turner says. Sometimes they don’t care who sees a listing. Other times, they only want to it to go to a specific end users.
Not part of the deal flow
Turner emphasizes that Krank is not part of the deal flow. “There’s no commission, no buyers or sellers fee, so there’s no questions concerning brokerage conflict of interest,” he says. “We don’t care if you’re selling a Cat D9 for a half a million dollars or a clutch assembly for $100.”
So how does Krank get paid?
Now free, the company will transition over to a tiered license structure sometime next year. As it’s now envisioned, each company will receive a free account to give users a feel for the platform. After an initial amount of listings, additional listings could be added via the tiered licensing.
Sherri Kayhoe, Manitowoc Cranes’ sales administration manager and a U.S. Krank beta tester, is looking forward to the Krank phone app, which will debut in December.
“Our people will be able to have everything right there in their hands and to quickly get information out to their connections,” she says. “I won’t have to worry about whether they’ve gotten my emails or not. Everyone in the company’s network has access.” (More on beta testers in the next section.)
Available on iOS and Android, the app will enable users to direct push notifications and use several sharing options across social media networks, including Whatsapp.
“When sales people are on the road, they’ll get push notifications so there’s no danger of them missing an inquiry,” Turner says. “They will literally have their inventory on their phone.”
The Krank platform, now poised to becoming a paying model, is currently being used for free by beta testers in the states, including Empire Crane, a worldwide crane dealer based in Syracuse, New York and manufacturer Manitowoc Cranes, Shady Grove, Pennsylvania.
For Jayna Labrie, marketing coordinator with Empire Crane, Krank has become a handy tool in communicating equipment needs within Empire’s network of dealers with whom it’s developed relationships with over the years. “If we’re searching for a particular crane for a customer, instead of going to each dealer’s individual website to find out what they have for sale, we can now go to one platform to know their inventory,” she says. “It’s a lot more time efficient.”
And dealers that have networked with Empire on Krank can also quickly view Empire’s inventory when searching for their own customer needs.
“The more dealers and customers who get on the platform, the more useful it will be,” Labrie says. To date, however, Empire has concentrated on using it as a dealer-to-dealer network rather than a customer-facing tool.
Krank “just seemed to make sense to us,” Labrie says. “It’s easy to use, navigate and upload listings.”
“This is a more interactive approach than just taking a machine and putting it on a website or advertising it in a publication and hoping that the right people see it,” says Joe Maslizek, senior business manager, Manitowoc Cranes. “This is a focused effort to get your equipment in front of people that you are interested in your products and that you are doing business with already. It’s not a passive marketing tool.”
Because Manitowoc is dealer focused in North America, “we look at Krank as a way to engage our dealers especially on the used equipment side,” Maslizek says. “It’s a unique approach to developing a used equipment network and platform.”
It’s also digital compared to the labor-intensive production of flyers, for instance. “This offered us a more consistent, concise way to communicate what we had for sale,” Maslizek says, adding: “Our dealers have strong connections to the used equipment marketplace. We want to use Krank to promote a regional sales approach.”
One example: promoting a coordinated communication between North, Latin and South America sales entities for all of Manitowoc’s products, including boom trucks, and tower, self-erecting and mobile cranes.
“It’s much easier to communicate updated inventory information to our dealer network on Krank,” Maslizek says.
As beta users, both Empire and Manitowoc have used Krank for free this year. Which begs the question: will they be as enthusiastic when it transitions to a paid model? “We’re going to monitor it going forward,” Maslizek says. “But a couple of dealers have told me that it’s been great to be involved as a sort of founding member because it’s allowed us to help develop this program, and we’ll have direct feedback in the cost-benefit analysis. We’re going to keep our eye on it.”