I was cleaning the windows of the combine cab at the farm last week when 3 young kids out on fall break came by on bikes. "Mr., do you have a bottle of water to drink? We're thirsty!", the largest of the three ask. I replied, "Sorry but I have nothing." Then being the borderline genius I am, I offered them a drink from the water hose from the farm well (don't think my cognitive processes are slipping in old age). They collectively looked at each other and the young lass with the two boys gagged. I thought it was an attempt at humor until the "leader" asked if I even had a Coke. Again, at the negative reply with a "sorry," they turned to leave in a trail of dust.

I watched as the lead bike stopped, then turned around and came back. "Sir, did you say you had water from a 'hose'?" I assured him it was cold and safe and offered a visual example as I kinked the hose to a dribble and took a long drink myself. Hesitantly the kid took the hose and figured out the kinking thing, himself took a long drink, then offered it to the other two. After several rounds they thanked me and again headed off in a trail of dust.

The reality of what just happed hit me in a stroke of up-to-date social status, in which we live in the good old U.S. of A. We have become so pristine that we can't handle water from a well or garden hose. The fact we have lost our agrarian roots escapes me daily. Memories from the youth were put in words from former Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, Cotton Ivy, who in a speech stated we have lost a lot of immunity in our society as we used to vaccinate ourselves every time we took a drink from the well bucket with a dipper or the common cup at the water cooler in the fields. But I digress.

The point here is those of us who have businesses which depend on selling items and interacting with our customers in a business relationship must realize the future is or will be in the younger generation. Do we relate well with them well? Do we have staff that does? Do our ways make them comfortable or make them want to gag"? Are our business displays relating to their needs and purchasing decisions? Do our facilities relate to an ever-younger clientele and their expectations? We must be aware they are coming of age of "to be" customers in ever increasing numbers or at least influencing those decisions.

Many years ago, "rural lifestyle" used to be farmers who downsized and/or retired, keeping a small portion of their former occupation as a comfortable way of living away from the city they despised. Today, it is becoming those city folk who are coming to us for the equipment and service to make their new-to-country living a realization of their dreamed life. 

Every generation has been deemed to be "going to the dogs" by the older gens, even dating back to B.C. days. But guess what? Each of the dog-gone generations has done just fine and will continue to do so despite our head wagging. 

So, embrace the newbies and find out a way not to make them gag in the process. Keep it in the back of the mind anyway. Remember, many times we pay more for a bottle of water than a gallon of diesel. Maybe we are not so smart. 'Til next time, wishing you miles of smiles and profitability.     

Told from the perspective of an in-the-trenches owner/operator — Tim Brannon of B&G Equipment, Paris, Tenn. —  Equipment Dealer Tips, Tales & Takeaways shares knowledge, experiences and tips/lessons with fellow rural equipment dealerships throughout North America. Covering all aspects required of an equipment dealership general manager, Brannon will inform, entertain and provide a teachable moment for current — and future — leaders within equipment dealerships.



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