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The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.
Kevin Forestell is the CEO and Co-Founder of DOZR. He talks with Beth and Zach about how to build better relationships with contractors.
Meet Kevin Forestell
Kevin is a contractor by trade. After going to school for landscape architecture, he started what would become one of the larger landscaping businesses in Canada — and what would be the seed for DOZR.
“DOZR is a company that's obsessed with bringing e-commerce to the heavy equipment rental space that started as a peer-to-peer platform kind of like an Airbnb for heavy equipment rentals, and over the years, we have transitioned into more of an aggregator for professional supply of heavy equipment rentals. So you can think of us kind of like Hotels.com for the rental of bulldozers, excavators, skid steers and all area of work platforms,” explains Kevin.
When it comes to heavy machinery, buyers/users generally have two options: buy used and worry it’ll break down quickly, or loan to lease instead of owning it outright. That’s because buying heavy machinery is extremely capital-intensive.
In Kevin’s landscaping business, he owned hundreds of pieces of heavy equipment. But like most growing businesses, he had to protect his debt-to-equity ratio. At any given time, at least half of Kevin’s equipment fleet would be rented out.
But it was a landscaping company, not a rental company. “We were really great at doing landscape maintenance and building world-class landscape construction projects and winning awards for them but we weren't a rental company. And this is what rental companies really specialize in is owning equipment and servicing it and having it rental-ready,” says Kevin.
However, renting your equipment requires a lot of people, resources, processes and expenses. When renting is a side part of your main business, it pulls focus from what you should be focusing on. It did, however, teach Kevin a lot of good lessons for the creation of DOZR, including the industry need for rental equipment: “Rental is a very, very important piece of the equipment lifecycle in the construction industry.”
Solving Contractor’s Problems
DOZR originally referred to themselves as the Airbnb of heavy machinery, but they’ve since pivoted to being “more like Hotels.com for heavy equipment rentals.”
Kevin used to rent equipment through his landscape company when it wasn’t being used, such as snow tractors in summer. However, he didn’t know how to keep his equipment rental-ready. For example, when renting a snow tractor in summer, a farmer would call because the air conditioner didn’t work, and Kevin wouldn’t even know it had an air conditioner. This was a challenge with the Airbnb model.
DOZR has evolved to the Hotels.com experience because contractors want to rent equipment online. “And the suppliers, the United Rentals of the world, all of the independent suppliers … they're all trying to figure out how to connect with contractors who are online searching for the equipment — and that's really where DOZR comes in. We're saying, ‘Hey, look, we can help facilitate this transaction.’”
Contractors don’t want to waste time setting up accounts with multiple different rental agencies. But setting up one account with a company that can access 10,000 rental companies is easy. That’s the problem DOZR solves.
However, there are hurdles for DOZR to overcome with contractors. The first is universal to all building industry companies. “It takes a lot of time and effort and money to be able to get out in front of contractors…getting that brand recognition out there is a very important but a challenging hurdle that we have to get past.”
The second is also universal: building trust. When it comes to renting heavy equipment, contractors are asked to pay anywhere from $200 a day to $15,000 a month. That’s a lot of money for a contractor to put on their company card, and that decision relies on trust. To earn that trust, Kevin says it “takes a really focused iterative approach to really have to pay attention to the customer to be able to solve that challenge.”
Getting In Front of Contractors
So how does DOZR get in front of contractors? By using a multifaceted approach.
“We have a really strong email communication strategy. We have a social strategy. We do a lot of SEM, Google thing ads, but probably our most important is organic. We spend a lot of time working on optimizing — from a technical perspective — our website to optimize for search engine optimization. And then, we also spend a lot of time building quality content and making sure that they show up on the site, and they see exactly what they wanted and then they engage with it.”
Once they’re in front of contractors, they use their messaging to begin building trust. One way they do this is by talking about topics that are relevant to contractors. With a contractor past, Kevin is able to talk about pain points with a true perspective on those pains.
Want Even More Insight?
What advice would Kevin give manufacturers who are trying to go after a contractor market? First, look at where you can find good data. DOZR, for example, has a lot of data on where equipment is needed, where there’s not enough supply and where demand is high. Second, build a platform that’s friendly to everyone and that solves multiple audiences’ problems.
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