Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Quiller Caudill, Manager of Development Services

Anyone serving the construction industry knows the importance of preparing equipment dealers to better serve their customers and prospects. As an agency with construction as an area of focus, we’re frequently asked to step in and support dealers with our marketing expertise. That was the case with Vermeer.

Vermeer approached Swanson Russell with a unique challenge related to their extensive dealer network: since each dealer was an independently owned franchise, each dealer’s website was managed and funded individually. It caused an inconsistent brand experience between regions for Vermeer customers and prospects. We were asked to gather all of those varying web properties under a single umbrella. On a micro level, it would address dealers’ business, customer and marketing needs better. And in the bigger picture, it would improve Vermeer’s brand consistency among its dealers. Sure, it would be a challenge, but knowing the ins and outs of the equipment dealers’ unique challenges qualified us for the task.

We started by meeting with Vermeer and a small group of dealers — a pilot committee that could brainstorm a plan to address the needs of all dealers and stay on budget. The solution was a centralized website platform. It would allow each dealer to have a customized, yet uniform, web presence which would allow them to manage their content and marketing needs themselves, but still provide Vermeer with some level of control over sensitive content (e.g. new equipment product details) and the overall brand experience.

The Vermeer Dealer System supported multiple standalone websites with unique domain names. There was a single, shared design across all sites that enforced a consistent brand experience regardless of the internal capabilities of individual dealerships. While dealers had complete control over the content on their site, the centralized structure allowed Vermeer to provide a feed of new equipment data without worrying about outdated or inaccurate information spread out across many different dealer sites.

New dealers were guided through an onboarding process where they could choose which features are enabled and how they want to work with the website. Dealers were also trained on using the CMS and had access to additional documentation and support through the other dealers using the system.

The initial set of functionality and designs were established by working closely with the pilot dealers and Vermeer, but we knew from the beginning that this would be a system that would need to grow and adapt over time. Each year, the dealers worked together with Swanson Russell to prioritize which improvements, additions, or other changes that had accumulated over the past year should be implemented on the dealer system.

By sharing the initial and ongoing development costs, each dealer was able to launch a professional, comprehensive web presence that many of them would not be able to manage or afford without the dealer website system. Ultimately, the development of this system put Vermeer dealers in a much better position to share the Vermeer brand and serve their customers.