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Staying Ahead of the Curve and Adapting to Change

For Dale Brackman, business is personal. That’s because his power equipment retailer has been family owned and operated for more than 50 years. But with this ever-changing industry, Brackman’s has had to adapt the way it does business – a common theme for the company.

Starting in the 1960s, Brackman’s began as a retail operation started by Dale’s grandfather. It soon became a family affair as Dale’s father got into the distribution business, and Brackman’s began to take off. The company quickly became a very successful distributor for large brands throughout the area.

The operation originally had two locations; retail in Jackson, Miss., and distribution in Baton Rouge, La. But as the times changed and margins became tighter, the family had a decision to make. Brackman’s had to adapt, so they set up shop in Hattiesburg, Miss., and the rest is history.

Soon, Dale took over, and the company shifted its focus to retail. Dale brought washers and dryers into stock to help diversify the store throughout the different seasons – once again adapting to the changing business environment. Over time Brackman’s became a Hattiesburg staple. According to Dale, “Being a family business does give [us] an advantage, and having had the name around for so long offers instant credibility.” The phrase, “If you want a lawnmower, you need to go to Brackman’s,” is commonly heard around the area.

Today, there are two Brackman’s locations in Hattiesburg. Some consider the main warehouse on Highway 49 off the beaten path, but loyal customers don’t seem to mind. “It’s established,” said Dale. “People come here because their parents already took them here.” Both facilities have large warehouse spaces with nice sales floors. Back when they were a distributor, Brackman’s needed to stock hundreds of pieces of equipment. Now they have the space to offer customers any specific part or equipment they need. Dale has ensured Brackman’s is one of the best dealers around. His philosophy is centered on the customer, and the business has adapted to many people purchasing products at big box stores. “I don’t care if you bought a machine at Lowe’s, I won’t get my feelings hurt like others do. I’m happy to make anyone my customer, and help them with parts or service.”

Brackman’s is always looking out for its customers. With the volume of equipment they sell, Brackman’s qualifies for Husqvarna’s Fleet Program. This program offers a discount up to 20 percent to commercial customers.

“Husqvarna is the only brand I have that can work that kind of program and package something like that because they make everything from wheeled to handheld,” Dale said.

The dealership always tries to treat customers like family. Dale added, “Our sales floor is intentionally not high pressure, and we don’t try to convert anyone to specific brands. We have reasonably priced parts and well trained mechanics. The service portion is crucial to our business.”

One thing Dale says has drastically changed over the years is marketing. “We’re 60 years old, and just getting into digital marketing. I’m open minded, and know the younger guys use the Internet to find certain products now, so we’re once again adapting to the market.”

Although Dale recommends a mix of all media forms as the best practice for dealer marketing, digital and social media have clearly stuck out as the most effective for Brackman’s. “TV used to be it, and with only one station in town we had a captive audience,” he explained. “Even print and billboards are not nearly as effective as they once were.”

Brackman’s has started to allocate more of its money toward digital advertisements. Manufacturers help them with this through social media training and tools for dealers.

“I appreciate when manufactures offer these programs, because it helps us connect further with our customers. Husqvarna seems to be forward thinking when it comes to this,” he added.

Brackman’s has been around for 50-plus years and hopes to be around for 50 more. The company has followed the same three-pronged recipe since its inception: 1) Stay loyal to family, 2) always treat the customer with respect, and 3) learn to adapt with the times. This formula has led Dale and his dealership to new heights – even in the digital age.

 

Article provided by Husqvarna.

 

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