When any two rural lifestyle customers arrive at your dealership, it's very possible that the only similarities they share are the front door they entered through. Recognizing this, say the dealers enjoying success in this segment of the equipment market, is an important step. While production farmer customers allow a certain profile of experience, knowledge and resources on which to design a sale approach, each rural lifestyle customer may represent an entirely different set of circumstances than the one you just dealt with.
Because of this, there's no cookie-cutter approach for the rural lifestyle customer, no magic bullet for succeeding with this segment. Instead, successful dealers hone up on welcoming them in, making them feel comfortable enough to talk and then truly listening to what they really need — not necessarily what they came in to look at.
"I'd caution any retailer dealing with folks like us to not take anything for granted," says George Dearborn, a Florida rural lifestyler profiled in the pages that follow. "Show a real interest in our goals. Some rural lifestylers are in it just for fun and want to buy everything on the lot. But it'll be a mistake to assume we all have the same long-term objectives."
This article, featuring our interviews with two rural lifestylers, illustrates just how wide the rural lifestyle spectrum can be. Despite very different ideas of what constitutes their unique rural lifestyle dreams, these buyers do share three common denominators when it comes to their expectations for dealers:
1. Make them feel welcome and not like second-class citizens to your traditional ag customers.
2. Don't oversell them with things they don't need.
3. Back them up with good customer service — defined by their own expectations, and not anyone else's.