VP SEF Making a Difference at Family Center Farm & Home
VP: So Jeff, what can share with us about what you’ve seen in Family Center Farm & Home stores since you started stocking our products?
JR: We’ve really seen the customer gravitate toward it and grab it. They buy it without question. The shocking one for us was the five-gallon container of 50:1. Last year we only sold 17 of [TruFuel] and that was one of our best years. So far this year [thru nearly the first three quarters] we’ve sold 62 of [the VP brand]. That’s a number that’s just shocking to us . . . We’re seeing good numbers with a lot of positive things.
What we’re also seeing with the VP [brand] is the professional guy starting to come in and get it because if he has crews out there, he doesn’t have to worry about them messing up the mix on the fuel or messing up the equipment. He can just give them a five-gallon pail and say, ‘here you go.’ I’m sure they’ve done the cost-benefit and can see that it’s more beneficial to run it that way.
VP: You guys currently stock our [VP] fuel . . . it looks like TruFuel and Stihl. Is that right?
JR: Well, we’re out of TruFuel . . . we started closing it out around November/December last year . . . we carried [Smitty’s] on the promotional buys that we did . . . I know we don’t carry that one anymore, either. . . . we only did the 50:1 . . . that’s all we were really moving in the TruFuel, which is completely different now with VP . . . I mean, we’re moving 40:1 now bigger than expected. So, yea it’s all a bit of a shocker for us.
VP: Have you had any customer feedback about our [small engine fuels]?
JR: We’ll occasionally hear something from a store where they’ll have a customer come in and they’re so excited, really on the VP line, to see that. . . . They like the VP product line.
VP: What have you seen as the biggest benefit of VP Small Engine Fuel as it maybe relates to both your business and customer base?
JR: It really goes in line with what we do. We pride ourselves in pairing with premium brands and we want to carry quality products. That’s the biggest thing. We carry Cub Cadet, Stihl, Ferris, Honda equipment. Customers see that VP SEF goes right along with that. The customer perception about VP is that it’s a better quality, high-quality product, and they’re wanting to gravitate towards it.
Like I said, we’re starting to see more of those professional guys picking it up and using it for that reason, too. They understand that ‘hey, if I use this, it’s a simple thing and the quality of my equipment . . . it’ll last longer.’
Blake [Mills, corporate manager of FCFarm & Home] spoke to one lawn mowing guy. . . . Every year he knew he had to buy five new string trimmers for his guys. Basically, every one of his crews needed a new string trimmer. Now . . . they should last longer and won’t get gummed up. He has to have equipment running all the time and they can’t afford to be fixing stuff all the time. . . . You can’t say, ‘I don’t have a piece of equipment for you to use.’ Then, [the crew] is off trying to find a job somewhere else, but they’re actually a good employee.
VP: Do you know if your customer base is more homeowner or professional? Maybe a pretty even mix?
JR: Our customer base is slanted more toward the homeowner and the five-acre farmer. . . . but even the small homeowner guy who might mow a half-acre or an acre, they’re still valuing their time and that fits right up the alley of some of these products that we’re talking about. You don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to worry about things.
VP: Were your customers already familiar with the VP brand?
JR: I think they were familiar with it. They weren’t familiar with it with us, I know that. They’ve seen the brand out there on the racing car shows, the banner in the back of the shop. So, I think they’ve associated that with that high-quality racing.
VP: Have the stores had to educate some of the customers on the [VP SEF] lines since they were introduced?
JR: If somebody comes in and they’ve got a string trimmer and the spark plug is all gummed up, it’s like, ‘here’s what’s going on. You’re not going through your fuel fast enough, so your fuel is going bad, and . . . it’s gumming up your engine. You want to take care of that, so buy a quart of this [VP SEF].’
But we get a lot of self-service customers who understand and know what they want . . . we’re expecting a big turn as fall rolls around and people start getting out the fall yard clean-ups.