When 2012 was brand new, I don’t think many would have predicted a year of such extremes. The drought of 2011, which mainly affected the southern U.S., spread to more than 60% of the country in 2012. The presidential election is always a time of divisiveness, but this past election seemed to reach a new level. And, the devastating, widespread effects of Hurricane Sandy, from floodwaters to record snowfalls, contributed even more to our concerns.

Those of us in the rural world are used to uncertainty, especially weather-related. Even a weekend or two without sun can impact dealership sales. With so many factors out of our control, the successful dealers I talked with this year stressed three top management strategies to remain strong:

     1. Know your numbers.
     2. Engage your employees.
     3. Fill product gaps.

Our 2012 Dealership of the Year, Mid-State Equipment, for instance, holds monthly management meetings to closely evaluate its financial performance.

“We make short-term decisions based on what we see happening. We review certain criteria and see if we’re meeting goals, and, if we’re not, discuss what we have to do to get there,” says Bryan Hanson, Mid-State president.

Jim Mayfield, president of Rainbow Ag, a successful California equipment dealership with three locations, also closely monitors his numbers — and shares them with his entire staff. It’s paid off.

“When your team understands your mission and strategic direction, they’re all engaged in the game and will bring you ideas,” Mayfield says. He says those numbers also help him identify which products can boost revenues. Read more of Mayfield’s story.

Our readership statistics show that dealers nationwide are on the look-out for ways to fill gaps in their product line. Our top-read story for 2012 is a perennial favorite, “Wood Burning Stoves: New Technologies Fuel Sales.”

This year, we highlighted other areas in which your dealership could expand. Our popular “How to Sell” series showed how to add animal feed, log splitters and trailers to your product line-up.

Smart management and merchandising strategies may be even more important in 2013. Early numbers in our annual Dealer Business Trends & Outlook survey showed that 45% of you expect little or no change in your total revenue. That compares with about 36% last year.

Maybe those numbers are good. Despite the uncertainty going into 2013, many dealers are holding steady.

We’ll be there with you in 2013, delivering news you can use and stories you can learn from. Before we close the door on 2012, check out our Top 10 most-read stories from the year.

Here’s to a successful 2013.