Main Street Mower first opened its doors in 1994, starting out as a small 1,200-square-foot shop in Winter Garden, Florida, selling only one brand of lawn mowers. The family-owned company quickly became known for its excellent customer service and has grown at a feverish clip, now occupying a 26,000-square-foot shop that sits on six acres. It is one of largest shops in central Florida, not only in terms of size, but also in sales.
Owner Stan Hawthorne says that superior support and service for its customers is the key to the company's success. The company boasts a 24-hour turnaround on service in a region that often sees wait times of several weeks. Main Street Mower also offers a same day option, for which it will service a machine while customers wait. It's a practice the company uses to draw in more customers, particularly those from further distances.
"We want every customer to feel well-taken care of," Hawthorne said. "We offer our full-attention and support to each customer and work on their individual needs at a rapid pace so they can get back out to work."
The company has faced some challenges over the years, but manages to overcome them with its dedication to customer service. It navigated the big box store revolution, which started about 15 to 20 years ago, by providing the kind of personal, dedicated support to customers that the chains can’t match.
More recently, Main Street Mower has been challenged by Amazon and Amazon Prime. The solution again: excellent service that the online sites can’t deliver. It has also diversified its product offering to include trailers, ladders, tires, hand tools, mulch and more. Hawthorne said people see the company as a destination and will drive from as far as one hour away to visit.
"There is always going to be competition, but the main thing to focus on is what your customers are telling you," Hawthorne said. "We’re always welcoming feedback and want to hear from our customers on what they need and how we can do more for them."
With so much success under its belt, the leadership at Main Street Mower was asked to join the AriensCo Dealer Advisory Council (DAC) in 2017 for a three-year term. It was an opportunity for the company to collaborate and consult with other equipment dealers and advise AriensCo on how it could improve operations to benefit its dealers.
Stu Hawthorne, the owner’s son and the company’s general manager who oversees much of its day-to-day business operations, pointed to specific benefits of joining the DAC.
"Being on the DAC has helped me learn a substantial amount from other dealers and it’s a great meeting of the minds when we get together,” said Hawthorne. "We've been able to address the need for speeding up production times to help better service our customers."
“Being on the DAC has helped me learn a substantial amount from other dealers, and it’s a great meeting of the minds when we get together,” he said. “All of the dealers on the council have been in business for many years. Their business knowledge is priceless.”
Stu Hawthorne also explained that one of the most essential components of the DAC is to provide open communication between AriensCo executives and its dealers so that AriensCo can continue to provide value to its dealer network.
"We've been able to address the need for speeding up production times to better service our customers," he said. "Our customers need to be able to get back out on the job site quickly and we’re proud that we can provide them quick turnaround."
With Gravely production boosted by its new lean manufacturing processes (see page 18), dealers are getting more products on their showroom floors at a faster rate. That means companies can focus their efforts on the competitive advantages that win them new business and keep long-time customers returning to the showroom floor. For Main Street Mower, that focus remains on off-the-charts customer services.