You set yourself apart from the big chains — and from dealer competitors — by the service you provide your rural lifestyle customers. In this issue, we examine the topic of service from two viewpoints: a long-time dealer and a rural lifestyler. The dealer, Rodgers and Sons of Cherry Creek, N.Y., has remained viable in a changing ag industry because of its commitment to service and a willingness to expand into the rural lifestyle sector.

“We decided to stick with providing good service. They can’t compete with us there,” dealership owner Clyde Rodgers says about competition from big box stores.

We also feature rural lifestyler Rob Miles from Logan County, Okla. Miles stopped in at four dealerships, ready to buy. He also walked out of four dealerships before finding one who wanted his business and understood his need for service.

“Nothing is more important than service,” Miles says.

This issue’s other features look at ways to serve customers before the sale, with a focus on horse owners and feed customers, in particular. Those who are new to rural life rely on a dealer’s advice — and integrity. Dealers acting as a trusted information source can guide rural lifestylers into the right purchase for the task.

Service for me, as a rural lifestyle consumer, is about saving time and money. If I can find the part or get a repair done right the first time, I can get back outside and get to work. Unfortunately, dealers can’t get it right every time. On a recent trip to a dealer, the service counter sat empty despite the receptionist’s two pages over the loudspeaker. Maybe the dealership was short-handed that day, but it didn’t leave a great impression, especially when a wall sign touted the dealership’s service philosophy.

The good news is that the parts person got the job done when he returned to the desk. I left with some parts, with others on order. And, the ordered parts arrived just when he promised.

Another trip to a chain store left quite a different impression. When I asked a store employee about a part, the employee said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Then, he walked away. He wasn’t a newbie, but a long-time employee. Serving me was not top of mind for him that day. So, I walked away, too, out the door to another shop. It wasn’t so much about making a statement. I drove 30 miles to find a part. I wasn’t going to drive 30 miles back home without it.

Here at Rural Lifestyle Dealer, we don’t just write about service. We strive to practice our own service philosophy: Give you the information, tools and new ideas to help you be more efficient, increase revenue and grow your dealership. It’s my job as the new managing editor to continue the magazine’s long-time commitment to bring you value on every page. We also bring that same valuable information to our electronic formats — our website, newsletter, Facebook page and through Twitter and YouTube.

Let me know how we’re doing and what you need from us. Call, email or share your thoughts 24/7 on social media.

I look forward to the chance to meet you along the way.