With all the mods on the rig we’ve had to work with a number of 4×4 off-road shops and after market vendors. And as you know, some of them are better than others. So what makes one vendor better than another?
Certainly some vendors produce higher quality gear than others, but not everyone wants or needs the top of the line equipment. Some shops have lower prices than others. But what is it that really separates the great vendors for the not so good and down right awful.
For us, its service. There are all kinds of ways to define service but ultimately we break it down into two categories:
- Service before and after the sale
- Service when things go bad
But working with a good shop or vendor is a two way street. We have responsibility in all this as well:
- Support a good shop with your loyalty
- Don’t expect something for nothing
Any time someone asks me a question my usual response is “It depends”. A good shop will happily talk to you about your project, get to know your needs and what type of wheeling you enjoy so they can give you the right information and help you make good choices. Good shops and vendors know a well informed customer will make better choices, be much happier with any purchase and hopefully will become a loyal customer. Don’t take advantage of this by asking for truck loads of information, advice or install support only to turn around and surf the Internet for the lowest price on all the parts they have helped you select for your project.
No matter how tight the quality controls, once in awhile a bad supply of raw materials sneaks in and a bad product gets out the door. Whats important is how the vendor or shop deals with it. Good vendors and shops want to make it right. Sometimes it means replacing or fixing a part. Sometimes it means working with you to try other options. Work with your vendor honestly when things go sideways and be open to options. Good shops want to make it right and you have to work with them so they can.
Most of the really great shops and vendors I know are small business owned by individuals who have a real love for what they do and believe in their product. They are small enough to know each of their good customers (good doesn’t mean spends a lot) personally. They care about their business’ reputation and want to do what is right for their customers. But they don’t have deep pockets and can’t give away the store. These are folks trying to put out a good product or service at a fair price.
So why am I feeling the love for vendors? The last couple of weeks I been trying to run down parts for a project I started and I turned to Baja Designs, Fourtreks and Plus 1 Accessories for help. They all were great! They worked with me to understand what I needed and did what they could to help.
Luke over at Fourtreks had a few custom parts made up so that my original designs would still work. This, while he was trying to get his house, family and business packed up to move. I’ve moved… a lot! And Helping others during that time was not my first priority. I could take a lesson there… the man deserves a medal.
Plus 1 Accessories found some raw tubing they could send my way that is going to work out and Baja Designs didn’t hesitate to toss in some extra clips, connectors and light buckets I needed.
We’ve all dealt with bad vendors (lord knows I’ve had my share) and the hassles they cause you can feel like nails on a blackboard. But I’ve been lucky to work with a number of good ones too. These days when I need help I know I have a good base to turn too. Even when they can not help, they usually know who can and send me to someone they trust and that says a lot.