The 30 years Terry Jordan spent fixing and selling cars prepared him for a difficult task he’d face one day: Getting a tractor dealership off the ground amid serious competition.

Jordan and four other trusted employees, including son Brian and daughter Brenda, have done just that, building Jordan Sales & Service — Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s 2009 Dealership of the Year — into a thriving operation that sells tractors and a variety of implements alongside used cars.

In 2008, in just its third year of operation, the dealership in Post Falls, Idaho, sold $2.8 million worth of tractors and implements — up by more than $1 million from ’07.

Below is an excerpt from the Fall 2009 issue of Rural Lifestyle Dealer, discussing Jordan Sales & Service's unique approach to selling tractors. To see the full article, click here. The 2011 Rural Lifestyle Dealer Dealership of the Year will be anounced in the Fall 2011 issue.

Branding the Tractors

Advertising decisions are important for any dealership, and even more so for a business spreading the word about a new brand in the market.

Jordan’s approach to advertising is a little unconventional. The dealership’s bread-and-butter strategy is placing full-page ads in magazines that sell hot rods, which are a favorite past time in the Spokane, Wash. region. It’s a market segment that the Jordan family knows well, and they’ve capitalized on it.

“Many of our customers have a hot rod in their garage, they have a nice place, they love cars, and they pick those magazines up every week for entertainment, whether they’re buying cars or not,” Jordan says. “I’m in there with a full-page ad with tractors, and a side-by-side full page with hot rods. They’re seeing me consistently, and when they’re ready to come in they remember seeing my ad.”

with a full-page ad with tractors, and a side-by-side full page with hot rods. They’re seeing me consistently, and when they’re ready to come in they remember seeing my ad.”

Jordan’s goal is to build business through local relationships. Sometimes he puts a tractor on the lawn of a local bank or business he has working relationships with, or he displays a tractor at car auctions so his dealer friends can see them. Those approaches seem to get better results than random, broad advertisements that customers may or may not read.

“You can’t rely on the people driving past your dealership because that’s just a small part of your customer base,” Jordan says. “And you can’t rely on word-of-mouth because you’re new. You need to be out in the public eye consistently. The fastest way to get the word out is to get the product into the public’s hands.”

Jordan also does things that most dealerships won’t to move tractors. Customers in the dealership’s market area are big on buying toys like motorcycles and boats, but they don’t always create as much happiness as their owner expected.

When those feelings surface, Jordan turns them into sales. He’s taken in camping trailers, boats, used cars and horse or stock trailers on trade. He once took in a 1931 Ford Model A for a small tractor, and more recently he took in a 4-year-old Harley-Davidson motorcycle with only 1,800 miles on it.

Why does he take those chances?

“Taking trades makes deals come together,” Jordan explains. “You need to have enough cash to take trades, but it gives you a big advantage over the competition. Open a door for a customer and give them a reason to deal with you.”