Riverstone Mower World

The team at Riverstone Mower World, ably led by owner John Stewart, has made it their mission to provide quality products and service to their community, reports JACKIE JOY

BUSINESS: Riverstone Mower World
PRINCIPALS: John Stewart
LOCATION: Riverstone, NSW
WEBSITE: www.riverstonemowerworld.com.au

Riverstone Mower World

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end said the Roman philosopher Seneca. Riverstone Mower World started out as John Stewart Mowers – a one man operation – in 1993. In 2008, John Stewart realised the need to expand and offer their customers a better shopping experience as well as more diverse range of products. The move to larger premises came with a new business name, one that truly reflects their commitment to the local area. A new beginning was made.

Today, whether it is sales, repairs or spares, Riverstone Mower World is a one-stop shop. The Riverstone-based dealership offers a wide range of outdoor power equipment to suit everyone, from the home gardener to the professional contractor. Some of the brands Riverstone Mower World stocks include Honda, Rover, MTD, Cub Cadet, Shindaiwa, Echo, Victa, and Scag, to name a few. 

THE BEGINNING

“I always tinkered with mowers as a kid growing up, often finding them on the side of the road. I would get them going and then sell them,” reminisces John who started as a sole trader in a small shop. “I reconditioned second hand mowers and sold those until I was able to open accounts with suppliers.”

Trying to get suppliers to trade with him, shares John was the first challenge in his business. “Not many wanted to give accounts to a young man starting out in business. I managed to get a couple of accounts open with a fairly small credit limit but this was soon increased as I showed them I was capable of paying for the goods,” he says.

TEAM EFFORT

Mr Stewart has been ably supported by his wife Erin who has been working in the business for 20 years. “She does everything from customer service, parts interpretation to account keeping,” he informs as he introduces the rest of the team. “Wal comes from a hardware background and has been with us for 15 years, working in sales. Then we have 2 mechanics – Jamie and Peter. Running this business is a team effort and all our staff gives 100 per cent effort.”

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IS KEY

Riverstone, informs John, has a “small town, community feel”. Although, he does admit that’s changing somewhat with the housing development going on. “There are people who have lived here all their lives. Doing the right thing by our customers has kept us in business for almost 30 years. There is nothing that makes us happier than when a customer returns after having bought a quality product from us, raving about how good it is, how easy it is to start, how much time they save by using it, how quiet it is and how happy they are about having made their purchase. It is for this reason that we have made our mission statement one that motivates us to sell quality products and see our customers happy at the end of the day.”

USING EFFICIENT BUSINESS SOFTWARE

Helping him run an efficient business is Biscount Software. A premier dealer management system, Biscount offers complete software solution covering Point of Sale, Accounting, Stock Control, Service Workshop and Marketing. It has been developed specifically keeping retailers in power equipment in mind. “We have been using Biscount Software for over 20 years,” informs John. “We use it in the daily running of our business as the point of sale software. It keeps track of our stock levels and margins and allows price files from our suppliers to be updated, alerting us if we are selling items at a loss due to a supplier price rise.”

He points out how they can also log in as a salesperson for each sale and produce reports to see salesperson performance. “We train our mechanics to use the workshop feature, where they can put parts straight on the job, record how long they spend on each job for accurate time billing and keep a record of the work they do for the customer to keep on hand as the history of maintenance.”

“The team at Biscount are so helpful. If we have a suggestion that we feel would be helpful in our business and others like ours, they take it on board, work out how to make it happen and produce an update with the added feature.”

“The two features we particularly love are the auto input of invoices and the SMS function. We used to manually enter invoices line by line which could take a considerable length of time. The auto input feature means Biscount can read the invoice and input each part number, price, mark up, retail price and calculate the end total.”

“Most mornings would consist of trying to contact customers by phone regarding their repairs. With the SMS function we are able to send a text message letting them know their machine, or parts, are ready to be collected.”

BUSINESS DURING A PANDEMIC 

With regular lockdowns, restrictions and irregular supplies, COVID-19 made the year a challenging one for many. “We were incredibly lucky to be considered an essential business and that means we are able to continue working,” says John. “With the government handing out job keeper payments and people being stuck at home working on their yards, we were very busy, especially during winter when we would have otherwise been quiet,” he adds. 

And, looks like it’s only going to get busier. “Yes, with land around us being developed, a lot more people are moving into our area, so there are more customers to help,” says John.

So what does it take to have satisfied customers, we ask him? “Treating others how we would like to be treated has been a key to building the business client list. We have customers coming from far outside our neighbourhood, including the northern beaches, South Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Lithgow,” he explains.

CHALLENGES AHEAD

While dealerships across the country have faced stock shortages, John says finding reliable staff remains a constant challenge. “Most young people getting out of high school want to work on motor bikes or cars. It’s very hard to find anyone who wants to work in this industry,” he tells us.

VIRTUAL SHOPPING 

While John admits it is important to have online presence in the form of a website, he is yet to warm up to the idea of selling online “An online presence is important but as far as an online shop goes, I don’t think it’s vital in this industry. Many of our suppliers have as a requirement of selling their machines that we assemble and fuel and oil up the equipment and teach the customer how to use it. That makes selling them online difficult. Also, with big ticket items, people generally want to see it before purchasing.”

LOOKING AHEAD

When it comes to future of the OPE industry, John believes battery-powered equipment will garner interest. “The Stihl battery range has been surprising for us and has really taken off. Our range has grown over the last few years to cater for both residential and commercial customers,” he sums up.