Lessiter Publications recently published the first "Hall of Fame" of dealers. These giants in the industry were masters in this farm equipment dealership game. They won and set standards that all struggle to meet.

Last week was also The Masters golf tournament taking place in Augusta, Ga. There are many similarities in the two. The analogies are, the game must be entered by those who possess the skill sets needed to compete and make the "cut." Dealers and golfers must bring their A game and select their brand to be successfully promoted in these highly competitive fields. The drive has to be consistent and controlled to push the game to the level needed to be successful. The ability to draw the shots from one's arsenal or sometimes fade the effort to avoid the obstacles that always make their presence known, is a mandatory talent.

The golfers always have their caddies at their side to help them call the shots and advise the options of play. Dealers have their caddies as well in their bankers and manufacturers' representatives to help them place their efforts the right distance and direction. No one I have seen can go it alone on the course.

There will always be traps and hazards that stand in our way to coming in under par. Good advice helps us avoid these and when we do fall in, we need the help raking the sand back smoothly when we blast out. Golfers win by putting the ball in the cup with the least number of strokes possible. We dealers score by closing the sales with the least amount of effort and expense. Puttering around without the focus and efficiencies needed will result in waste, missed sales and allowing the other competitors to pull ahead.

Speaking of putters, both dealers and golfers must have the equipment needed to score. Let us digress a minute. Many an avid golfer spends way too much on clubs. A pro could play with a set of Wal-Mart clubs and beat us embarrassingly. We hackers think we can spend our way to birdies.

True story. I have a set of Ping Eye 3's custom bent (that haven't been used in years). Years ago, I happened by our utility room and saw somethings shiny in my bag. It was new clubs: from Wal-Mart. The box was still there: $99.

My wife, who is not a golfer, had bought them for me for our anniversary unbeknownst to me. What was I to do? My $1000+ set of old non-shiny, custom clubs were gone, but, alas, the golf gods had shown down upon me. The 3 iron was missing.

I walked into the kitchen and gave Deb a big hug, kiss, then told her how I appreciated the gift she bought that would further keep me away from her in time spent together. I said it didn't matter that the club was missing. "What, one is missing ? I will exchange them!"  

"Oh no Hun, what would please me more is that if you would just get the money back and give it to our kids."


"Yes, really, you have touched my heart and brought a tear, and, uh, my old clubs?"  

"Oh, they are in the shed."

Whew, saved that par. Anyway, we have to have equipment to run the dealerships, but how we use it is more important than the objects themselves. Just like the evolution of golf shoes from the old loud metal spikes of decades ago to the softer gentler grips that are mandated today.

Our walks must be gentler and more considerate than in the past. When we do get those trophies there is a payday. Now our paychecks may not be in the millions like the Masters winners, but it will pay some green fees. Let's keep our eye on the ball, our drives in the fairway, and learn to read the "greens" like the pros.

'Til next time, may your game be good and may you play through the slower ones on the course with grace and become a Masters dealer.

To read about the inaugural Farm Equipment Dealer Hall of Fame (HOF), click here.

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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