Dealer Spotlight: Central States Bus Sales
Interviewee: Jeff Reitz
Title: President and CEO
Q. How do you introduce propane-fueled buses to prospective customers?
A. At the first meeting, we gauge the customer’s interest in alternative fuels. Some of our customers have done all their research and are way ahead of the game. They are open to options and we bring up propane to see if there is a fit. Other customers are not as interested in alternative fuel options. But, we do bring it up to see if they are open to it and go from there. Our goal is to make the discussion, and ultimately the purchase, as easy as possible for our customers.
Q. Have you seen a lot of interest in gasoline and / or propane?
A. We talk both propane and gasoline with our customers to see what fits their comfort level. We have seen a lot of interest in gasoline-fueled buses, especially among school districts with smaller fleets. It’s not as risky in their minds and from their board’s standpoint.
With propane, most everyone is interested in the quick heating and cold start benefits, which gives us an opportunity to review other benefits, too.
Q. Who do you meet with when trying to sell a district on propane?
A. We will meet with anyone and everyone throughout the district! We’ve spoken to school boards, transportation directors and technicians. Whatever it takes. The key is to have a demo propane or gasoline bus there to let them drive it, see it and be comfortable with it.
Q. What convinced you to sell alt fuels?
A. We started with a couple small customers on the propane side and took the time to do testing. Once we were comfortable with the data we collected and the performance of the buses, we were ready to sell propane buses on a larger scale. Our data collection also helps us calculate the total cost of ownership for customers. We can outline their total costs to adopt propane so they can budget.
Q. What advice would you give to other dealers to increase alt fuel sales?
A. It comes down to believing in the product yourself. When you believe in it, your customers will, too. If you’re not personally sold, I’d suggest you learn the benefits and how it can help your customers. Find the solution that is worthwhile for them, whether it’s propane or gasoline.