The Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) is coming up next month. This conference and exhibition is the premier event for the fire service where firefighters come to receive the best training available and follow it up with a chance to see product introductions from apparatus and equipment manufacturers.
But, we all can’t get out to FDIC unfortunately. There are myriad regional shows, but they are on a smaller scale and don’t always present attendees with the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the tools or fire apparatus they are looking at.
This is where dealers come into play.
Many don’t look forward to walking into a car dealership to purchase a new car. From out of nowhere come salespeople trying to provide buyers with the deal they need to drive off the lot in a new car. Then the pressure starts to make a decision. It’s not any easier when you sit down to try to spec out apparatus or buy new tools.
When we call our local dealer, a salesperson arrives with catalogs and samples in hand. Open up a catalog, and suddenly we are confronted with more options than we knew existed with so many part numbers that our heads start to swim, and we haven’t even made it to the price list yet. Salespeople worth their salt will simplify it all for you. And, if they’ve been watching what their vendors have been showing off at shows like FDIC, they’ll come prepared to give you a good education on what is new in the market, what they can offer to make your job safer and easier, and what their expert recommendations are.
Dealers are the vital link between purchasers and the manufacturers or suppliers. More than that, they know more about what is going on in the industry than most. Why? They are in it every day. They know what fire departments are demanding better than anyone else because they are the ones taking the calls. And, if they know what fire departments are demanding, they also know what they are buying and are in an excellent position to fill us in on what is hot and what the more innovative departments are doing.
Do you have a dealer that has gone above and beyond? Does it provide training for and service what it sells? Let us know. Are you a dealer representative with a story to tell? Let us know.
The Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) held its 24th annual Apparatus Symposium recently. The Symposium is always a good opportunity for me to meet up with some of the higher-ups from various manufacturers and sit in on sessions to learn what is available and what is coming down the pike in terms of standard revisions, new Department of Transportation regulations, and so on.
One presentation that covered the construction process for fire apparatus made me stop and think. The presenter said that 90 percent of vehicle construction is planning. He then asked how many in the room actually spend 90 percent of the construction of a new vehicle planning. How many said yes isn’t important. But, all of us need to think about it.
Part of a dealer representative’s frustration is when a department hasn’t properly planned for its new apparatus. Planning doesn’t only mean putting together a 20-item wish list that must be incorporated into the design of a vehicle. It means looking at that list, determining the feasibility of its contents, and deciding if it contributes to a usable piece of apparatus. It means defining what the department wants the truck to do. Making use of every square inch of space on the truck doesn’t work if no one can get to the equipment.
So, to our dealer readers, pay attention to what goes on at FDIC this year. Don’t just look at what comes out as more products to sell. Look at them as ways to help fire departments operate more safely and explain them that way. Look at them as ways to help your customers build practical, usable apparatus. And don’t be afraid to tell departments when they’re going a little crazy with their specs. Yes, they want you to tell them their wish list is doable, but if what they’re proposing doesn’t make sense, they need to know.