In a digital age, survey shows contractors still value personal interactions with equipment dealers

Marcia Doyle Headshot
Updated Aug 23, 2016

construction handshakeSo how do contractors want to interact with equipment dealers today?

A joint Associated Equipment Distributors/Randall-Reilly research project, conducted by our Equipment Data Associates division and tapping the opinions of Equipment World readers, delves into this topic. While technology advances and societal changes are pushing certain approaches to the fore, there are plenty of indications this is still a high-touch industry.

Take, for example, contractor survey responses to how they prefer to learn about new offers from their dealers. The number one answer is no surprise: 64 percent said by email. But the number two answer? “Informed by a dealer representative” was chosen by 48 percent of respondents (multiple answers were allowed).

Direct contact also has a strong play when you choose to buy or rent from a new dealer. When we asked contractor respondents how they found out about a new dealer, using an online search was the top answer (44 percent). But “word of mouth” and “direct contact by a dealer representative” came in at 37 percent and 34 percent, respectively.

This need for human interaction is also reflected on the dealer side. While dealer respondents — by far — view their websites as the most effective way to market (50 percent saying they were “very effective,” with the remainder saying they were “somewhat effective”), open houses and events came in second, with 38 percent of dealer respondents saying they were very effective. And they’re putting dollars behind this belief: 35 percent say their event spending will increase this year.

Delving into end-user beliefs about dealers and the information they provide, 74 percent of contractor respondents say they either “agree” or “somewhat agree” that dealers keep them well informed about new products and technology.

Another 63 percent say the same is true with dealers giving them equipment safety information. But contractors do have a wish list: 68 percent of respondents say they wish dealers would give them more education on new technologies. Another 43 percent would like more technician training on equipment maintenance.

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Whatever approach dealers use to get your attention, the trusty dealer sales representative doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. When asked to respond to the statement “I don’t have time to see a dealer sales rep,” 32 percent of contractor respondents said they either “somewhat disagree” or “disagree,” with 41 percent remaining neutral.